Coroner identifies victim killed in gas pipeline explosion

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

Shelby County Coroner Diana New identified the man who was killed in an Oct. 31 gas pipeline explosion that occurred when a nine-person contract crew working on Colonial’s gasoline pipeline Line 1 experienced an incident when the trackhoe it was using hit the line.

Willingham

The man killed in the accident was 48-year-old Anthony Lee Willingham of Heflin.

“Willingham was pronounced dead at the scene and was positively identified by forensics,” said New.

The explosion resulted in one fatality and five other individuals were injured and transported to the hospital. Of the five people injured, only one has been released from the hospital.

Officials with Colonial Pipeline said the cause of the explosion is currently under investigation as this is the second major incident that occurred in Shelby County since Sept. 9.

“The contractors that we have are like family and the first report I heard was that we had people that were critically hurt and in the hospital,” said Colonial Pipeline Incident Commander Gerald Beck at a Nov. 1 press conference. “Nobody at Colonial and none of our contractors ever want to hear that or go through that. We spend a lot of time, money and effort to make sure that never happens, so when you asked me what I felt, I felt bad and I still feel bad. This is something that is not a routine thing for us and it’s a tragic accident. We’re going to try to learn from it and figure out how to keep it from happening again.”