September 12, 2007
Four years ago, on this day, a man named James Spotts got killed in an explosion at Untied Technologies San Jose plant (also known as Pratt and Whitney, Chemical Systems Division). Spotts, 47 at that time, was father of two children and lived an average life. I was hardly ten feet away from Spotts when he got killed—I was the last person to see him alive.
Right after the accident the news was all over in the media, and there was tremendous interest in the story.
[For example, you can read the news here:
“The second explosion in five weeks at a South Bay rocket fuel plant killed a construction worker Friday.
The unidentified male contract worker died about 11 a.m. in what was described as a small explosion while doing maintenance modifications on a solid rocket fuel mixing facility. ……”
Four years later everything has been forgotten about James Spotts’s death.
Did Spotts really die in an industrial accident, or was it a cold-blooded murder? Perhaps we will never know because all legal cases related to that explosion were settled outside the court by United Technologies' high-powered defense team.
I have been very lucky throughout my life, but September 12, 2003 was unquestionably the luckiest day of my life. The day when the stage was set for Jim Spotts to get killed, I was in the same building where Jim was. I miraculously survived when Spotts got blown up in the explosion because moments ago I had decided to sit on the floor to take measurement of a low-height flange. I heard James cutting a pipe with an electric saw. Unknowingly to himself, he was working with a pipe bomb. There was explosive material in the pipe he was cutting. The pipe burst in his face, shrapnel with bullet speed went in all directions. I was saved because I was shielded by a piece of machinery.
Because I worked there for several years I have an intimate knowledge of the United Technologies San Jose plant, its work culture, and the personnel. The purpose of this blog and the associated Wikispace is multifold: to keep the memory of James Spotts alive, to gather facts and information related to the September 12 explosion, and to provide an online space to ex-employees of United Technologies San Jose to gather and share their stories.