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Hebron man dies in oilfield accident

Reports are swirling that a tenured employee of a Dickinson oil services company may have saved another life shortly before being killed in an oilfield near Killdeer on Monday afternoon.

A member of management at Casper, Wyo.-based Black Hills Trucking Inc., who wished to remain unnamed, said Larry Due, 64, of Hebron, was working as a Black Hills truck pusher on the site of a Nabors Industries Ltd., oil rig.

Larry Due's wife Kathryne Due, said while she hasn't yet been provided much information regarding the accident, she has heard reports from several people indicating her husband pushed another worker out of harm's way shortly before he was fatally injured.

"This was simply a fluke accident," Due said from the couple's Hebron home Tuesday evening. "It wasn't really anybody's fault from what I understand."

Because of the sensitivity of the situation, several people who were near the incident declined comment.

It is unclear what caused the accident or Due's death.

Dunn County Sheriff Don Rockvoy said the fatality occurred at an oil rig site where the rig was not yet operational, as the oil company was "rigging up."

Blacks Hills provides rig moving and oilfield equipment hauling services, and the member of Black Hills management said the rig was "going back up."

Terminal superintendent at Black Hills in Dickinson, Mike Bertelsen, and an attorney declined comment.

"We've got too much happening here, so I can't say nothing right now," Bertelsen said.

A call to Ray Novotny, safety supervisor at Black Hills in Dickinson, went unreturned.

Officials are staying mum on the situation.

"I'm not going to disclose much until this gets investigated," Rockvoy said. "It's being investigated at this time by outside agencies, just kind of going through the process. We don't want to release any unnecessary information until that stuff gets all done."

John Young, a compliance safety and health officer for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Bismarck, said OSHA investigators were on site Tuesday.

"The accident is under investigation by us and by Nabors and by OSHA and that's it," the unnamed Black Hills Trucking employee said.

A representative of North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance confirmed a claim had been filed for Due as an employee of Black Hills Trucking.

Scott Reid, district manager for Nabors Drilling in Williston and a member of the North Dakota Petroleum Council's Board of Directors, was unavailable for comment.

The accident involving Due was the second oilfield-related fatality in the area in about a month after Christopher Whalen, 22, of Havre, Mont., died March 6 from injuries sustained while drilling holes for seismograph lines near Beach.

Funeral services for Due are pending with Spangelo-Stevenson Funeral Home in Hebron.