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Communities mourn loss of gas well explosion victims

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 20:54:54-05

QUINTON, Okla. - Communities are mourning the loss of the five men killed in a gas well explosion in Quinton, OK. 

The explosion happened just before 9 a.m. Monday morning.

Authorities say 17 men were working near the well when it erupted. One of the men was taken to the hospital and five remained unaccounted for throughout the day as crews battled secondary fires and blasts.

The bodies of those five men were located Tuesday. One of them was Matt Smith, 29, of McAlester - a community devastated by the loss.

2 Works for You visited Savanna High School in Savanna, OK where Smith went to school and where his mother is currently a teacher. 

Savanna Public Schools Superintendent Gary Reeder said, “It was pretty early in the morning. The local police came by and went and talked to Miss Smith, his mother. Of course, she immediately left. I believe her daughter-in-law came and got her and they went over to the site.”

It was news that sent a shock wave through the community and through the school. 

Reeder recalled, “Matt played football. He never was in trouble. I was high school principal, so I never saw him.”

Football Coach Brian Brown said, “I coached Matt for three years in football . . . Always done what was asked of him. He was just a great kid.”

Former teachers, coaches and teammates remember Matt fondly.

Matthew Murdaugh said, “One of the nicest and most genuine people you’d ever meet in your life. He was really just super good dude.”

Matt Murdaugh, whose now a coach at Savanna High School, was a freshman when Matt Smith was a senior.

He went on, “Matt was always a guy with a smile on his face, always offered everybody a handshake, real friendly, real polite. He was one of the guys a lot of us young guys looked up to.”

We are told Smith leaves behind a son who is not yet 2 years old. But through the pain and tears, there’s a rally of support

Murdaugh said, “It draws people together. It makes you go home and hug your wife and hug your baby a little bit tighter at night. It really opens up your eyes and puts things into perspective for you.”

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