Rig victim’s widow says Gulf disaster caused ‘inferno of grief’

Shelley Anderson wants her life back, the life she had with her husband. And she wants a federal judge considering whether to approve a plea deal for BP in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico rig explosion and oil spill to know that not being able to have that has caused her a “tortuous inferno of grief.”

In a nine-page victim impact statement sent to U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance this week, the widow of toolpusher Jason Anderson wrote that activities with her two children, wedding receptions she attends or listening to the couple’s favorite song on the radio will never be the same.

“I’d like the life back that I had when Jason was home and I could smile at reminders of him instead of feeling the lump in my gut that just makes me cry again,” the widow wrote in the letter to the court, a copy of which she sent to the Chronicle.

Eleven rig workers were killed when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in the Gulf about 50 miles off Louisiana after an undersea well owned by BP blew out. The resulting oil spill was the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

In a deal with the Justice Department, BP has agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including manslaughter and obstruction of Congress, and pay a $4 billion criminal penalty. Vance will decide whether to accept or reject the plea and its terms at a hearing in New Orleans on Jan. 29.

Relatives of several of the victims oppose the deal, saying the fine and admissions don’t go far enough, and they are sending statements to the court.

Shelley Anderson Impact Statement

Anderson didn’t specifically say in her statement what she thinks the judge should do, but she clearly wanted the judge to know the magnitude of what her family has lost. Along the right rail of the statement she embedded three-dozen family pictures. They show the couple dancing, at the hospital when their children were born, building a snowman outside their home and smiling at various celebrations.

She offered harsh words for British oil giant BP.

“We have seen the commercials on TV that say BP is going to ‘make this right,’” Anderson wrote. “If anything, they have made things worse and serve as a constant reminder that they are not doing ‘whatever it takes’ to ‘make this right.’ They don’t care about me or my children. They just ‘want their life back.’”

The statement contains several apparent references to former BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward’s much-maligned comment at the height of the disaster, “I’d like my life back.”

Anderson wrote that the hardest part for her is not having her life companion.

“Jason is the love of my life,” she wrote. “He is the air that I breathe, the beat of my heart, my reason for living. We planned for our future together. It just does not work without him.”

BP, in response to Anderson’s comments, issued a similar statement as it has in the past, saying it “regrets the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident.”