Gulf oil rig's survivors struggle one year later

EAST GRAND TERRE, La. - Gordon Jones made people laugh. He brought smiles to the faces of his son Stafford, as well as his crewmates aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Exactly one year ago, a horrific explosion sank the rig. Jones -- a mud engineer -- was one of 11 workers killed. Dozens more were hurt when Deepwater blew up. As CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, they were the first victims of the BP oil disaster.

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"Some of us are pretty forgettable," says Jones' father, Keith Jones, "but not him."

Keith Jones savors the picture of Stafford's first golf lesson with his dad, the last photo ever taken of Gordon.

"I used to call his cell phone just to listen to the message," Keith Jones says as he chokes up at the memory.

One-hundred fifteen crew members survived the doomed rig. Some of them jumped seven stories into the Gulf of Mexico.

"I really thought I was going to die," recalls Matt Jacobs, who lives with nightmares of that night and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He was a roustabout -- a general laborer -- working for Transocean, the Horizon's owner. Like many crew members, he now complains that the rig operators put profits first.

"They're always preaching safety first," says Jacobs, "but I haven't seen nothing safe about, you know, how they had been operating."

Chris Choy, another roustabout, now also has post-traumatic stress disorder. Choy takes an even harder line with the Deepwater Horizon's operators.

"I think they should be in jail,"  Choy says. "They gambled with people's lives out there, and they lost this one."

But a year later, the Gulf's back open for business, with 10 new drilling wells all approved in the last six weeks.

And since BP's disaster, Congress has passed no new safety regulations for deepwater drillers.

Both Choy and Jacobs have had it with the oil business.

"There's no way I could ever go back to work offshore on a rig," Jacobs says.

A week before Gordon Jones was killed, he led a birthday party for little Stafford Jones. Two weeks after the rig exploded, Maxwell Gordon Jones was born, the son Gordon Jones never met.

Keith Jones says BP never contacted him about any regrets.

"Not a card, nothing," Keith Jones says. "They don't care about Gordon. They care about their money."

Out in the Gulf, here's what grieving families say changed in the last year: Everything and nothing.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.

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