Coast : 2 Die as Pipe Breaks at Long Beach Oil Island

Two county men were killed when a high-pressure, nitrogen-filled pipe twisted and broke off, slinging pieces of pipe around a man-made oil island in Long Beach Harbor on Tuesday, a spokesman for an oil consortium said.

Stephen Lowe, 22, of Huntington Beach was killed instantly when the pipe broke, said spokesman Steve Marsh. Steven Linn, 29, of Anaheim died later from severe head injuries after being flown by helicopter to St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, hospital spokesman Barbara Ogle said.

Long Beach Fire Department paramedic Barney Rice said: “It was a nitrogen pipeline under 2,900 pounds of pressure. When it went, it was whipped around like a garden hose.”

The accident occurred on Island Freeman, one of the four harbor oil islands supported by consortium stockholders--Texaco, Exxon, Union, Mobil and Shell oil companies, Marsh said.


Mike Colman, 28, of Lakewood was treated and released for bruises, Ogle said. Colman and the two men killed in the explosion were employed by Poole Well Service Corp., a company that subcontracts drilling work from the consortium.

Also injured in the explosion was Harold Smith, 34, of Westminster, a Baker Tool Co. employee, who was treated for a broken right leg and released, Ogle said.

Marsh said the men were performing a drill-stem test to a newly completed oil well when the broken pipe “slung pieces of pipe around and that’s what hit the men.” He said this type of accident is “very uncommon.”