'Nightmares on top of nightmares': survivor describes tanker fire
A man who survived inferno-like conditions during an explosion aboard an oil tanker says he is alive because his first thoughts were of his grandchildren.
"I was caught around the rib cage, and I was stuck, and I was pushing and pushing to get out, and I said, 'I'm seeing my grandkids grow up,'" Pat Stamp said. "And, after that, I came out of the tank."
Stamp was welding a bracket aboard the MV Kometik while it was docked in April 2006 Conception Bay, near St. John's, when fumes ignited in a tank.
Deckhand Wayne Dalton, 38, died of smoke inhalation in the subsequent flash fire. Stamp was able to escape, but not before searing heat burned off much of the skin on his body, disfiguring his face and causing unbearable pain.
"It was just pure heat. I haven't felt heat like it— 750 degrees on the barbecue is nothing," Stamp said, speaking publicly about the explosion for the first time.
Hesaid he is tormented by the ordeal— physically and emotionally.
"I'm here, but it's not me. I don't have the energy to get up," he said. "I'm upset. I don't sleep right— nightmares on top of nightmares. It's crazy. I wake up tired because of everything that's happening while I'm asleep."
Stamp said he is comforted by keeping a plaque with Dalton's photograph under his pillow.
Apart from recovering from his injuries— he lost 50 per cent of his lung capacity— Stamp is also living with the harsh reality of a disfigured face that is almost completely covered by scars.
"I don't want to go to the malls, anywhere, because of the stares that I get," he said. "I was never like that. I liked going to those places, but now it's very difficult."
His wife, Madonna, said the stress from the ordeal has been coupled with losing a source of income. However, she said there has been a silver lining for their marriage.
"It's made us a little closer, actually," she said. "In one way, that's sad to say, because he was never around very much.
"He was always at work— always. He was a workaholic. Now it's lovely to have him around, but it's sad."
She is also deeply sympathetic to her husband's pain, including the physical transformation that came from severe burns.
"He's still Pat, underneath all that," Madonna Stamp said.
"He doesn't look the same, and I miss the other Pat— I miss that face— but I still love that Pat."
An investigation into the explosion has led to dozens of charges against Canship Ugland Ltd. and several of its employees.