Energy pioneer McClendon dies in fiery car crash, a day after indictment

Thu Mar 3, 2016 9:45am EST
 
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By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Former Chesapeake Energy Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon, a brash risk-taker who helped transform the U.S. energy industry with shale gas, died when his car slammed into an overpass on Wednesday, one day after being charged with breaking federal antitrust laws, police said. He was 56.

McClendon was alone in his 2013 Chevy Tahoe when it sped into an embankment along a remote two-lane road in Oklahoma City, where it burst into flames, a police spokesman said. The cause of death will be determined later by a medical examiner, the spokesman said.

The crash occurred less than 24 hours after the U.S. Department of Justice announced that McClendon had been indicted for allegedly colluding to rig bids for oil and gas acreage while he was at Chesapeake. He had denied the charges.

At a press briefing in Oklahoma City, Captain Paco Balderrama said McClendon was traveling at “well above” the 40 mile per hour speed limit before he "pretty much drove straight into the wall." He was not wearing a seat belt.

“There was plenty of opportunity for him to correct or get back on the roadway and that didn't occur," Balderrama said.

Industry executives and state officials remembered McClendon as a "visionary" who ushered in a new era of U.S. energy abundance by pursuing the hydraulic fracturing technology that would unlock decades' worth of domestic natural gas and oil resources.

Over more than two decades, he built Chesapeake from a small wildcatter into one of the world's biggest natural gas producers before resigning in 2013, after a corporate governance crisis and investor concerns over his heavy spending

It may take one to two weeks to complete an investigation into the accident, which occurred about 8 miles (13 km) from offices of American Energy Partners, the company that McClendon founded shortly after leaving Chesapeake.   Continued...

 
A vehicle, in which Oklahoma City Police Department said former Chesapeake Energy co-founder Aubrey McClendon died one day after a federal indictment, burns in Jones, Oklahoma March 2, 2016 in a picture courtesy of Cris Yelton.     REUTERS/Cris Yelton/Handout via Reuters