Second Houston-area man confirmed dead in Algeria

By Harry R. Weber and Dan Wallach

The State Department on Monday identified a second Houston-area resident as among the Americans killed during the hostage siege at an Algerian oil field.

A spokewoman said Victor Lynn Lovelady was killed in the siege — dashing the hopes of family members who said last week they were told Lovelady, 57, was alive but still being held  hostage.

His brother, Michael Lovelady of Nederland near Beaumont, told the Beaumont Enterprise  Monday morning that the family received preliminary notification on Saturday that Victor Lovelady was dead.

“I can wrap my arms around a car wreck, I can wrap my arms around cancer. I can’t grasp terrorism and Nederland, Texas,” Michael Lovelady said. “Those words just don’t go together.”

He said the family will have a formal statement on Tuesday. Michael Lovelady said he last saw his brother in November.

Victor Lovelady  was a 1973 graduate of Nederland High School, his brother said. His wife, Maureen, graduated from there in 1975.

Last week the State Department said that Frederick Buttaccio, 58, of Katy, also was among those killed during the siege, which ended in a raid on the site by the Algerian military.

The State Department says a third American also was killed, Gordon Lee Rowan of Sumpter, Ore.

It did not describe the circumstance of the men’s  deaths or list their home towns, although others confirmed the residences of Lovelady and Buttaccio last week.

Michael Lovelady  told the Chronicle on Thursday that the family understood Victor Lovelady was alive at that point.

Militants who attacked the Ain Amenas gas field in the Sahara had offered to release the hostages  in exchange for the freedom of two prominent terror suspects jailed in the United States: Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind sheik convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks and considered the spiritual leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Read more: Four BP employees missing after Algeria attack

The Obama administration rejected the offer outright.

Last week’s desert siege began Wednesday when Mali-based, al-Qaida-linked militants attempted to hijack two buses at the plant, were repelled, and then seized the gas refinery. They said the attack was retaliation for France’s recent military intervention against Islamist rebels in neighboring Mali, but security experts argue it must have taken weeks of planning to hit the remote site.

Algeria says 38 hostages of all nationalities and 29 militants died in the standoff. Five foreign workers remain unaccounted for.

In its announcement Monday, the State Department said at least seven U.S. citizens  survived the attack.