Plant worker known for hard work, loyalty 

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD  -- The plant after an explosion at CF Industries in Donaldsonville on Friday, June 14 Show caption
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- The plant after an explosion at CF Industries in Donaldsonville on Friday, June 14

Friends of Ronald “Rocky” Morris Jr. described him Saturday as a fun-loving family man, the epitome of a loyal friend, and a man who could always be counted on in a time of need.

Morris, who died Friday at the age of 56 from injuries sustained after an over-pressurized vessel ruptured at the CF Industries chemical plant in Donaldsonville, will certainly be missed by those who knew him best.

“He was probably my best friend,” said Chuck Montero, chief of the Donaldsonville Fire Department and a friend of Morris’ dating back to their early childhood years in Paincourtville, an Assumption Parish town of fewer than 1,000 people.

“When you talk about a family guy, you’re talking about him,” Montero said of the 34-year plant veteran who leaves behind three daughters and his wife, Jeannie.

The rupture ­— which came less than 36 hours after an a chemical plant explosion in Geismar killed two people and injured dozens of others — occurred while nitrogen was being unloaded from a tank truck and did not produce any flames, officials said.

Seven other people also were injured during the incident, including plant workers Courtney Julien, Melvin Singleton, Jeramy Worsham and Kade Yarbrough, according to a company news release.

Three of the seven injured were taken to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, where two had already been sent home as of Saturday night, said Nicole Terry, a hospital spokeswoman.

The one remaining patient was in fair condition, Terry said.

At least three other people were taken to other hospitals with relatively minor injuries, hospital spokespeople said Friday night.

State Police emergency crews finished cleaning up the incident area Saturday morning and turned it over to plant personnel for any further developments, said Jared Sandifer, a Louisiana State Police Troop A spokesman.

Morris’ relatives respectfully declined to comment on his untimely death, but Montero, along with Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan, who knew Morris for more than 35 years, described him as a man who always put others before himself.

“He was a good person. Fun to be around, always made me laugh,” said Sullivan, who first met Morris when he worked at CF Industries decades ago.

Sullivan called Morris a hard-worker who recently told him that he never planned on retiring.

“I just pray that God will be able to heal their wounds,” Sullivan said of Morris’ family members.