One year since gas rig explosion claimed 5 lives in SE Oklahoma

 

Tuesday marked the one year anniversary since five men died when a natural gas drilling rig exploded in Pittsburg County. Three of the victims were from Oklahoma and the other two came from Colorado and Texas.

The rig caught fire near Quinton and has since resulted in lawsuits filed in McAlester against the rig operator.

News on 6 recently visited with the widow of one of the men.

 The family of Matthew Smith says their lives were changed eternally that day.

“I just can’t process that it’s been a year, but then at then, it seems like a lifetime ago that I seen him [last],” Matthew’s widow Julie said.

One home video shows Matthew Smith as most knew him, kind and quiet feeding his son Rhett as he sat by his side. But other videos show Matthew being silly, making his little boy laugh. That’s the Matthew his family remembers best.

“He had this goofy side to him that people just never got to see,” said Julie.

The videos and hundreds of pictures freeze time for his wife, mom, and sister, like the day he took Rhett on his first fishing trip when he was about 12 months old.

“He sends me selfies of him and Rhett. Rhett’s in his walker and Matthew’s got the fish,” Julie said. “It didn’t matter that Rhett was too little fish, he just couldn’t wait to get him out there.”

Family came first for Matthew, he did everything for them.

“He was the nicest, kindest guy that you would ever meet in your life,” said his sister, Emily Parker.

He “checked all the boxes” as Julie puts it. The two met when they were 19, they married six months later and in 2016, they welcomed Rhett into the world.

“It just seemed like when Rhett was born, it just seemed like that love just amplified,” said Julie. “We were always together.”

Now together means trips to the cemetery for Father’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas.

 “I have been shattered, been completely shattered and broken. Never again will I be whole in the way that I was… there may be places that are mended, but it will never look the same,” Julie said.

But there is hope for a happier tomorrow; the family sees it every time they look into Rhett’s eyes and see his dad.

“It’s a comfort. I have a little piece of Matthew no matter what,” Julie said.

“I can snuggle with him and I just feel like I kind of has a part of Matthew,” said Matthew’s mom, Edie.

And they’ll also always have the stories about Matthew that make them laugh and help him live on, always.

“I want to talk about him. That’s just my way of comfort because I want him to still exist,’ his mom said.

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