Psychologist: Silver Eagle explosion caused PTSD

Mar 30 2012 - 5:52am

FARMINGTON -- The Silver Eagle refinery explosion did more damage to Brian Horne's mental state than the dive he took into Lake Powell that paralyzed him when he was 18, a forensic psychologist says.

"This event threw (Horne) for a loop emotionally," Mark Zelig said Thursday in 2nd District Court.

Zelig was hired by Russell Cline, the attorney for Brian and Kristi Horne, to evaluate the psychological damage that may have occurred to the couple and their children after the Silver Eagle Refining explosion Nov. 4, 2009, in Woods Cross.

The Hornes are suing the refinery, saying the home they own has been stigmatized because of the damage caused by the refinery explosion and the fear that another explosion or worse could occur in the future.

The Hornes are seeking an unspecified amount in damages, claiming the refinery was negligent and has had a history of industrial accidents, according to court documents.

The six-day jury trial is expected to last until Wednesday before Judge David Connors in 2nd District Court.

Zelig testified that Brian Horne, who is an engineer, is the type of person who wants to protect his family and take care of himself. That is why he had the house built to accommodate his wheelchair.

But the explosion told Brian Horne that "he was still a quadriplegic," Zelig said.

Right after the explosion, Brian Horne and his wife, Kristi Horne, decided they needed to leave their home. He got inside the van with their children, who were in car seats, and his wheelchair was placed where he couldn't reach it. His wife, Kristi Horne, had gone back inside the home to get some items, Zelig said. That is when Brian Horne realized "he was as incapacitated as his daughter in her car seat," Zelig said.

Brian Horne and Kristi Horne both have some form of post-traumatic stress syndrome, as well as depression, which were caused by the explosion, he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Brian Horne finished up his testimony. During cross-examination by Silver Eagle's attorney, Roger Bullock, asked Brian Horne why he had not moved his family out of their rental home and back into the home that had been damaged in the blast, but had been repaired. The repairs were finished in November 2010.

Brian Horne said, "I was not willing to gamble the lives of my family" and move back into their home that borders the refinery.

Horne admitted that when he and his wife bought the property in 2005 they had signed a disclosure that said they would be living next to an industrial area that may have some unpleasant odors, noise and lights.

"We can handle the noise and lights," Horne said.

Horne said he and his wife had put the house up for sale, but they had not received any "serious" offers for the home.

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