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PLBs: Taking the ‘search’ out of ‘search and rescue’

Published on 3 June 2024

Jason Willis Krell was the youngest member of his crew and was just one week from celebrating his 27th birthday when he disappeared in the Seacor Power disaster. Jason’s loss has had a huge impact on all who loved him, but none more so than his mother, father, and sister.

I want to take this opportunity to tell Jason’s story because that’s why we’re here. He was born on 21 April 1994, and grew up in Plano, Texas. As a child he loved nature and animals and, at school, while history and English weren’t his favourites, he excelled at science subjects.

After high school, Jason attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, graduating with a major in Geophysics and a minor in Mathematics. The family were so proud of him and the opportunities that would now be available.

In April 2019, Jason was hired by Fugro, where he surveyed the ocean floor on various vessels for two years. His assignments were primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, but he also had the opportunity to work in the Northeast. Like many who join the offshore industry, he was looking forward to one day traveling the world with his work.

IMCA Contact

Debbie Burt
President, Jason’s Beacon

Jason loved the beach, the ocean or just being on the water and it was no surprise to anyone when he chose a career which took him out to the depths. To my mind he was the perfect example of someone working hard to achieve their dreams.

In his spare time, he enjoyed hiking, camping, boating, and beach trips – staying true to his love of nature and science – he even helped his mother foster and rescue stray dogs.

As an adult he grew to enjoy craft beer and became quite the connoisseur! He had the most amazing sense of humour, and even though he tended to be a bit reserved, once he opened-up, he was a delight to be around. One of his most favourite things to do was build a bonfire and poke at it for hours. Some of our best times as a family were spent around Jason’s bonfires.

Jason grew into a confident and successful young man, with a bright future, but he left us far too soon.

Photo of Jason Krell at university.
Photo of Jason Krell at University

Seacor Power Disaster

At approximately 3:30pm (CST) on 13 April 2021, the biggest maritime disaster in Louisiana’s history took place with more people losing their lives than in the Deep Water Horizon disaster.

The Seacor Power liftboat, with 19 crewmen onboard, flipped on its side in just 55ft of seawater, a few miles from the mouth of Port Fourchon, around 100 miles south west of New Orleans, in hurricane force winds.

Only six were rescued on the night of the capsize. Six others were found deceased over eight days of intense air, water-surface, and diver vessel search. Seven more were never found – including our precious Jason.

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)

The ocean is a vast wilderness, both below and on the surface. We learned through the Seacor Power disaster that finding individuals who are lost at sea is extremely difficult and often unsuccessful.

Survivors will share stories about how in broad daylight, boats passed right by them, or helicopters flew over them before they were finally rescued. My heart hurts to think of how many other men and women have had a similar experience but were never rescued.

There is a solution. Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), a relatively cost-effective device which emits a GPS signal which will alert local rescue teams within minutes of activation. In its report on the Seacor Power Disaster, the National Transportation Safety Board highlighted how PLBs could save lives and, in their words, “take the search out of search and rescue.”

We don’t know if having a PLB on him would have saved Jason’s life. We don’t know because he’s never been found. We do know that he and others on the Seacor Power weren’t provided one and I think it is a serious gap in US offshore worker safety.

Honouring Jason’s life

As a family we decided to try and do something to help, and the idea for Jason’s Beacon was born.

We’re a Texas based non-profit which, thanks to kind donations such as the recent $12,500 / £10,000 contribution from IMCA, provides PLBs to US offshore workers for free on a first come, first served basis.

Thanks to our collective purchasing power, we can buy PLBs at reduced rates, allowing donations to go even further. Until the day PLBs are mandated in law, we will continue to offer this to the best of our ability. If just one life is saved because of our work, it will have been worth it, and the avoidable loss of 13 crewmen’s lives will not have been in vain.

We’re delighted to be working with IMCA, which has such a long and proud history of bringing the industry together to meet our shared goals of improving offshore safety. We’re also pleased to be able to tell Jason’s story to your Members.

Thank you.

Debbie Burt is President of Jason’s Beacon and Jason Krell’s aunt.
Please note that all views expressed are her own, and do not necessarily represent those of IMCA.

Get involved! Donate to Jason’s Beacon today.

Jason’s Beacon relies on generous donations for its work in providing PLBs to its growing waiting list.

Individuals and organisations interested in supporting the nonprofit can donate online via Paypal, or the charity’s Facebook page.

Alternatively, donations can be paid via bank transfer/wired:

Bank: Comerica
Address: 1717 Main Street, Dallas, TX, 75201
Account name: Jasons Beacon
Registered address: 3835 Azure Ln, Addison, TX 75001
Mailing address: 4900 Airport Pkwy #2113, Addison, TX, 75001
Account number: 1883337303
Routing Number: 111000753

US checks can be sent to:
Jasons Beacon, 4900 Airport Parkway #2113, Addison, Texas, 75001, USA.

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