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Dickinson man dies in fall from rig

Terry Metcalf, 52, died after falling from a rig basket Monday. The Dickinson man, shown March 2003, worked in the Oil Patch since he graduated from high school.

A Dickinson man died Monday following a fall at an oil field site outside of Killdeer in Dunn County, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed Wednesday.

Terry Metcalf, 52, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Metcalf was a derrick hand with Big Sky Well Service, Belfield. Owner Charles Fulton said Wednesday that he and Metcalf go "way back" as they both have resided in the Beach area.

"I'm sorry it happened but we don't know what happened," he said.

The incident occurred at about 7:30 a.m., according to OSHA. There were no other injuries.

"The report was that an employee fell from the drilling rig basket about 50 feet," said Eric Brooks, Bismarck Area OSHA Office assistant director.

Big Sky was like family to Metcalf, his mother, Barbara Allen said, adding he was with the company for 12 years. Allen said it is unclear what happened but he was "so safety conscious, even at home."

Allen also said he fell from a worker service rig rod basket.

"He was not reckless," she said. "He drove around like he was 90 years old."

That may be because he was fond of the 2012 Chevy that he only had for about six months.

"He liked to drive his new pickup -- he loved that, he loved to target practice and basically, he was a home-body," Allen said. "He'd drive, just go out in the country and drive around."

Metcalf was born in Glendive, Mont., and moved with the family to the Sentinel Butte area. After Metcalf graduated from Beach High School, he went to the Oil Patch and stayed.

"He liked it. It's the only thing he liked to do and it was good money," she said. "He made a lot of friends."

Metcalf broke his leg in an oil field accident in Baker, Mont., about 13 years ago and came to Dickinson to live with Barbara and his stepfather, Bruce Allen.

"He had his ups and downs, and days he wished he had done something else but we all have days like that, you know," Barbara said.

Bruce said Metcalf started on drilling rigs and switched to workover rigs.

"He was pleasant, kind of stayed to himself," he said. "He sometimes cussed the oil field but he sure enjoyed working for Big Sky.

"It ain't nothing on nobody's part. Twelve years -- my heavens, they liked him and he liked them."

Oil field accidents

Fulton said the Big Sky crews go through a lot of safety training, and there has not been a fatality in the 31 years the Belfield business has existed.

OSHA was notified of the incident and dispatched a two-person inspection team from Bismarck on Monday.

All seven oil-field related fatalities, which includes Monday's, reported to OSHA since its fiscal year began Oct. 1, have been in the Bakken Formation in western North Dakota, Brooks said. The Bismarck office covers North and South Dakota.

"Some are struck-by hazards, some are fall hazards and sometimes it was found to not be work related -- say if someone had a heart attack out there," he said.

Brooks said he does not know how long the investigation will take, "it depends on how it unfolds."

Due to computer database issues Wednesday, OSHA could not give Big Sky's safety history, Brooks said.

Metcalf's funeral service is 10 a.m. Tuesday at Ladbury Funeral Service, Dickinson, with Rev. James Hessler officiating. Interment will follow at the Sentinel Butte Cemetery.