Andrea Fleytas: Where is the Deepwater Horizon Position Operator Now?

‘Deepwater Horizon,’ the 2016 film, brings to the screen the tragic real-life tale of an explosion on the eponymous drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010. In dramatizing the lead-up to the malfunctions that resulted in the explosion, the narrative equips Mike Williams, Chief Technician, as the protagonist. In doing so, the story delivers judgment upon the greedy corporate wheels that run behind the scenes, which significantly contributes to the disaster. Simultaneously, the story empathizes with the event’s survivors and pays tribute to the lives lost.

In achieving the same, Mark Wahlberg’s Mike Williams is joined by a team of other characters, including Jimmy Harrell, Caleb Holloway, and Andrea Fleytas — each of whom stems from real-life counterparts involved in the 2010 disaster. Consequently, given the memorable role assigned to Andrea Fleytas within the narrative, viewers must be curious to learn about the actual woman and her current life.

Who is Andrea Fleytas?

Andrea Fleytas of West Covina, California, attended Vallejo’s California Maritime Academy and studied marine transportation. She graduated in 2008— the same year she started working on Deepwater Horizon. By 2010, at 23, she had been working at the same rig in the Gulf of Mexico for only 18 months. When things went south aboard the rig, many of the crewmates only found out about the same with the first waves of the blowout’s explosions. However, since Flyetas was a Bridge Operator, she learned about the deadly gas leaks earlier as she saw mud— a heavy drilling fluid— pour into the ocean.

The alarms that blared on Fleytas’ computer screen alerted her about the rapid spread of the gas all over the rig. In fact, the alarming light lit up a bright magenta, signaling one of the worst scenarios possible. Highly combustible gas was spreading across the rig. Still, as Fleytas underwent the first ever “well control” complication in her career, she didn’t set off the general master alarm, which had to be manually activated.

“It was a lot to take in,” Fleytas later went on to say during her testimony at the court trial. “There was a lot going on.” Her boss, Yancy Keplinger, who was beside her during the trying time, seemed to agree with her as he also neglected to alert others or deploy the emergency shutdown system in time. As a result, the moment of hesitation led the crew to activate the alarm six to nine minutes after the mud’s appearance and two minutes after the gas leak alarms. Even so, an explosion had already taken over the rig in those precious minutes.

Around the same time, Keplinger made emergency announcements— which he alleged Fleytas failed to do as a possible result of nerves. Nevertheless, Fleytas contested this claim. Either way, a short while after the announcements, survivors began piling onto lifeboats as the rig burned behind them. Yet, ten survivors, including Chief Technician Williams, Captain Kuchta, and Fleytas, were marooned behind as the last of the two lifeboats left.

Consequently, the survivors tried to compile on an inflatable raft— a daunting task since it was never covered in evacuation drills. Nonetheless, once inflated, the raft slipped before everyone could board, leading some to descend with it. Williams— perhaps mistakenly— recalled Fleytas as one of the survivors left behind on deck with him, compelled to jump into the ocean. In comparison, the New York Times’ well-researched article, ‘Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours,’ confirms Fleytas was on the raft and flung into the ocean on impact. Ultimately, Fleytas was able to survive the tragedy aboard the rig and escaped with her life.

Andrea Fleytas Now Runs a Bakery in California

In the aftermath of the April 2010 explosions, Andrea Fleytas was a part of the court trials, wherein her attorney, Tim Johnson, defended her position. The lawyer asserted the situation was out of his client’s hands and she couldn’t have done much to change the situation once the lethal amounts of gas leaked. Likewise, Fleytas shared that she couldn’t have used the emergency shutdown system, given she had no training in it. Afterward, Fleytas was left to deal with the significant trauma of surviving as well as losing 11 crew members — many of whom she knew personally.

In fact, the woman developed PTSD after the event and had to undergo several therapy sessions to work through her experiences. Thus, recovering from the past, she returned to California and began studying civil engineering at Huntington Beach’s community college. Nevertheless, Fleytas soon realized her passion lay elsewhere. As a result, November 2012 brought a whirlwind decision to her, compelling her to drop her classes. Instead of civil engineering, the woman turned her sights on creating a career out of baking. Consequently, she moved to New York, where she learned to bake at the International Culinary Center.

“I didn’t want to be just a number. When I was working for Transocean [the company that operated Deepwater Horizon], I felt like a number,” Fleytas told The Orange County Register. “I love to bake and create something that people appreciate as much as I did.” Thus, Fleytas went on to establish her small business bakery, Bricklane Bread, in Long Beach, California. Even though the brand maintained a few social channels, there haven’t been any recent updates. Similarly, Fleytas herself remains out of the public eye. Consequently, with the available information, we can only infer she continues to live in California as a Baker.

Read More: Jimmy Harrell: Where is the Deepwater Horizon Installation Manager Now?