2 workers killed in La Porte chemical leak were 'true family men'

Erica Simon Image
Friday, July 30, 2021
Family of 2 killed in La Porte acid leak left heartbroken
Families of two contractors are left heartbroken after the LyondellBasell acid spill. Now, surrounding neighbors and workers are raising concerns to keep this from happening again.

LA PORTE, Texas (KTRK) -- Dusty Day was a small-town guy from Davidson, Oklahoma who loved the outdoors and loved his country. He was an Army veteran, a husband, son, brother, uncle, friend and dog dad.

His wife Jennifer told ABC13 he also loved working in the refining and petrochemical industry and did most of his work in the Houston area.

What happened to Dusty at the LyondellBasell plant in La Porte Tuesday still has the community shaken up.

SEE ALSO: 2 LyondellBasell contractors killed in La Porte leak identified

"My husband works in the plants, my sons work in the plants, my son-in-law works in the plants. It's scary," resident Christine Betancourt said. "One day it could be us getting the news that our loved one is gone. Somebody has to do something. It has to be regulated better. Something has to be done."

Surviving workers agree. In total, 42 people were hurt when 100,000 pounds of acetic acid leaked at the facility, and 30 had to be taken to the hospital. Two are still receiving care.

As a result of the incident, one has filed a lawsuit through Abraham, Watkins, Nichols Agosto, Aziz, and Stogner partner Benny Agosto, Jr. Ten and counting have filed a lawsuit through Arnold & Itkin.

"We're tired of these types of events. And we should not be having these events over and over and over again. Month after month it seems like at this point. And it's because of lackadaisical actions and decisions being made when it comes to safety," attorney Adam Lewis explained.

In the lawsuit, Arnold & Itkin's clients describe having to run for their lives from the acid and are still dealing with ailments.

SEE ALSO: La Porte chemical release leaves residents worried: 'They're going to push everyone out of here'

"From orthopedic injuries to chemical-related exposures, (and) respiratory complications. A lot of clients are still throwing up, even though we're days after the fact. They're having excessive nose bleeds, days after the fact, for ingesting all these dangerous vapors," Lewis continued.

Shawn Kuhleman, a 32-year-old from Arlington, was the second contractor killed. The attorney representing his family shared photos of him with ABC13, saying he was a husband and father of two boys.

Dusty's family said they want to remember their funny, caring, soft-hearted family guy as just that. They've set up a GoFundMe to help bury him in his town of 300 people.

People who live near the LyondellBasell plant said they hope a tragedy like this never ever happens again.

"Something needs to be done, but what can we do? We live around plants," Betancourt said.

When ABC13 reached out to LyondellBasell regarding the lawsuits, the company said they are aware but can't comment on pending litigation.