News of the Gulf Oil Disaster has dominated the news for almost two months. Currently there is no solution. Lost so often in tragedies like this is the emotional toll that is endured by those impacted. This story illustrates that reality. Allan
Allen Kruse beside his boat.
FOLEY, Ala. — Allen Kruse tenderly kissed his wife goodbye just after sunrise Wednesday and headed to the docks in Gulf Shores, Ala., where his boat, The Rookie, was moored.
A charter boat captain for 25 years, Kruse had signed on as a BP contractor to spot oil, deploy boom and eventually learn how to skim oil. His business had come to a screeching halt after the April 20 oil spill.
About an hour later, Kruse was dead. He was 55, the father of 11- and 12-year-old boys, Cory and Ryan, and daughter Kelli, 26.
About 7 a.m., after a BP training meeting, he climbed into the wheelhouse of his 46-foot charter boat and ended his worry, his frustration and his anger with a single bullet to the head.
“Nothing was easy working with BP. Everything was hard, and it consumed him. He wasn’t crazy,” said his wife, Tracy, 41, sitting outside the couple’s home in Foley on Thursday.
“He’d been a charter boat captain for 25 years, and all of the sudden he had people barking orders at him who didn’t know how to tie up a boat to a pier. I think he thought, ‘I’ve got to get out of this. I can’t take it.’ ”
The spill also left Kruse emotionally devastated. It robbed him of his passion for taking customers out to the Gulf to fish for red snapper and grouper, his wife said.
“Our whole lives surround this, this oil, everything is oil,” he told her a few days ago.
Consumed by worry
From the beginning, Kruse was unhappy with the glacially slow process of working for BP.
“He couldn’t believe they were sitting there at Zeke’s Marina doing nothing,” Tracy said. “He wanted to get out there and work and help clean up the oil.”
But once the work finally began, Kruse was overwhelmed with the paperwork to get an assignment and get paid.
In particular, one invoice required 52 pages to fill out, and there were problems getting the paperwork to BP, Tracy said.
Several days ago, Kruse finally completed the invoice and sent it to BP, but he still was unsettled.
“Things changed in our marriage,” Tracy said. “Usually, I was the worrier, but now Allen worried. He worried that BP wouldn’t get the invoices. He worried about the whole situation.”
Tuesday morning, black skies loomed over The Rookie, but Kruse and his crew of three still went out to look for oil.
“They went out, but Allen called me and said, ‘This is bad. Someone’s going to get hurt,’ ” Tracy said. “So they came in at the request of the task force leader.”
With the ominous weather and rain, Kruse’s mood turned darker.
By Tuesday night, he again was focused on the 52-page invoice.
“I said, ‘Allen, honey, please let’s just give this a break,’ ” Tracy said. “He said to me, ‘I just got this fog in my head I can’t shake, and it’s driving me crazy.’ ”
Kruse took a bath. He felt better. He ate. At 9 p.m., he and his wife went to bed.
‘Last time I saw him’
Wednesday morning, Kruse rose first and dressed. Tracy got up for a few minutes, meeting her husband in the kitchen.
“He was just standing there, bent over the counter with his face in his hands,” she said. “He was just leaning on the counter, and I could see the wheels of worry turning in his head.”
Tracy said little, then returned to bed to catch up on sleep. Minutes later, her husband was at her bedside.
“He was just patting my head, and he said, ‘I’m about to leave,’ and then Allen said, ‘It’s just all madness, Tracy.'”
Those were the last words she’d hear him say.
“I told him everything would be all right. I said, ‘Don’t worry, Allen. It will all work out, honey.’ ”
Kruse kissed his wife, looked in on the boys, and climbed into his Ford F-250.
“That was the last time I saw him,” she said.
She had no thought that he would take his own life.
A few minutes later, Kruse picked up Ronnie Doyle, a loyal deckhand, at the Burger King at Gulf Shores Parkway and Fort Morgan Road in Gulf Shores.
They drove to Gulf Shores Yacht and Marina and the BP staging area and went about their normal duties of fueling up The Rookie.
Then, the captains met with BP officials at a nearby building. It was hot inside, and many of the captains were angry and frustrated.
Deckhand Joe Resmondo said something happened to Kruse at the meeting. What, he didn’t know, but Kruse had a look of horror on his face.
The co-owner of the marina, Billy Parks, passed Kruse and playfully punched him in the shoulder. Using his nickname, Parks cajoled him, “Cheer up, Rookie. It’ll be OK.”
But something was very wrong. Then Kruse went missing.
“It was a normal morning, but at one point, we couldn’t find Rookie,” Resmondo said. “I asked around if anyone had seen him.”
No one had.
Then, there was a clap, what Resmondo assumed was a backfire or firecracker.
“I didn’t give it any thought,” he said. “It was a muffled sort of crack. Then, I climbed the ladder to the wheelhouse and saw Allen on the floor, sitting in the corner. He had shot himself. I turned, screamed for help and dialed 911.”
‘He wanted out’
Tracy got the call from Parks. There had been an accident, Parks said.
“What kind of accident?” Tracy frantically asked. “Is it Allen? Did he fall off the boat?” Her husband was notoriously clumsy.
“You need to come to the marina,” Parks said. “Don’t speed. Just come right now. Right now.”
“And I was just screaming ‘Tell me, tell me, tell me,’ ” Tracy said.
So Tracy called Resmondo. He wouldn’t say either.
She hung up and called her sister, who’d found out about the shooting just minutes before and told her.
“You know, I don’t think he was even thinking about his family,” Tracy said. “I think he wanted out of the chaos and what he called ‘madness’ of the whole thing.”