The Delta Western barge was christened in October after employee Antril Sanguinetti, who died in 2014
By Hilary Reeves
On a wet and gusty morning last October in Tacoma, Washington, Delta Western personnel gathered to christen the company’s new 326’ barge built to serve Western Alaska the “Antril S.” The ceremony was bittersweet.
“I remember the first time Antril and I met,” said Leon Dwiggins, the company’s Director of Safety, who was asked to speak at the event. “He asked what I did for the company, and I said I was the ‘safety guy.’ Antril rolled his eyes and laughed. He explained that most safety guys came from a book and had no experience in the field. We talked some more and I explained…what I was about, and all Antril said to me was, ‘prove it.’”
By all accounts, Antril Sanguinetti was a man who believed safety and efficiency were not mutually exclusive. Careful and deliberate, Sanguinetti grew up in Alaska and knew firsthand the dangers living and working in a land of such extremes could pose. It’s one of the many reasons his death in a head-on collision on the Parks Highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks on Dec. 22, 2014 was such a painful shock to his family, friends, and coworkers.
“One of Antril’s best strengths was that he was a do-er,” Dwiggins said. “He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He was always busy making things happen…but he would always make sure he and his crew were doing it the right way – the safest way. And that’s why Antril and I clicked.”
’Safety is life-changing’
Dwiggins also grew up in Alaska, describing his fellow Alaskans as “family who don’t yet know each other.”
“One of my true beliefs is that friends are the family you choose,” he explained.
He joined Delta Western six years ago after leaving a large oil support company with interests on the Slope.
“Honestly, I wanted to get out of that volatile oil-field market. At my last company, I was a number. I was just ‘11023.’ I wanted something smaller, something more intimate. I wanted to go somewhere where I could implement my ideas.”
“A lot of times, the safety guys aren’t well-liked,” he said. “A lot of times they have the title of ‘safety officer,’ and I never liked that. I’m not an officer, or a dictator. I’m more of an educator. My role and responsibility is health and safety.”
Sanguinetti’s job, said Dwiggins, most often involved traveling into the field and troubleshooting system failures. Frequently, his work meant making sure trigger systems pumped the fuel.
“I believe you can either be the guy that no one likes, or you can be the guy that goes in there and asks how the guys that have been out there on the job everyday think it should be done,” he said. “I knew right away that I wanted to utilize Antril. He knew the systems inside and out, and we worked to build our programs and policies of that. He understood that we needed to give ownership to the employees.”
Dwiggins said he still thinks about Antril every day. An “in loving memory” button with Antril’s photo sits on his bathroom counter.
“It motivates me,” he said. “Everyday I get a little reminder of Antril. I’ve definitely changed my ways a little bit. I used to be a bit more hard-nosed sometimes. Now my attitude is more service-oriented.”
Dwiggins said that he might have helped to build the company’s improved emphasis on safety, but it was Antril who gave it legs.
“When I was designing our safety manual, I would reach out to Antril and pick his brain. I would tell him what I was trying to do and tell him my ideas, and some would be good and to others he would say ‘that ain’t going to work.’ But he would tell me why, how it would work, and walk me through the solution.”
He said the naming of the barge for Sanguinetti meant a lot to him and to others across Alaska.
“To me, safety is life-changing. The reward is that people get home safe. And naming the barge after Antril, the story behind it – that helps get the word out even more.”
’I had the best husband in the world’
At the October christening, Sanguinetti’s widow, Benita, stood up to smash the celebratory bottle on the hull of the barge named for her husband.
“It’s something Antril would have loved,” she said. “He would have been so honored. When I was told about the barge, I was at a loss for words.”
According to Benita, whom Sanguinetti nicknamed “Beda,” he put all his heart into his work.
“When his name was left on a job, he made sure it was done correctly. Like everything in his life, he made sure it was top-notch.”
Benita said she never envisioned herself having a storybook marriage when she was a little girl – but that’s exactly what life with Sanguinetti was like. They met at a friend’s house. Benita, thinking he spoke Spanish due to his dark good looks, asked “Cómo estás” – to which Sanguinetti laughingly replied, “Yo quiero Taco Bell!”
“I had the best husband in the world,” she said. “It truly was the love story that little girls wish for. He used to tell me God first, then me, then his mother, then my mother, then on down the line of family and friends. He held everyone in his heart. I have nothing but good memories from the 23 years we spent together.”
Every November, the couple traveled to Maui for their anniversary. On their second anniversary, they spent three weeks there, prompting Benita to ask her new husband if they could move from cold, snowy Alaska to Hawaii.
“I remember him saying, ‘No, you don’t really want that. Alaska is home.’ He never wanted to live anywhere else.”
Though it’s still painful to talk about, Benita said she remembers speaking to Sanguinetti on the morning of his death two years ago.
“We used to pray together every day,” she said. “That morning, I remember saying, ‘I’m going to go read my scripture now.’ And he replied, ‘I already read mine today, dear.’ And then I said, ‘Well, I love you,’ and he said, ‘I love you too, Beda.’ And that afternoon, he was gone.”
Benita said she knows God doesn’t make mistakes. What she didn’t know, and found out on that cold morning in October, was just how much her husband meant to those he worked with. She chuckled as she recalled how Sanguinetti often affectionately called Dwiggins “Captain Careful.”
“I still sometimes can’t believe he was that important to the company that it chose to name a barge for him,” she said. “It’s a great honor. It’s a legacy that will go on and on.”
’You should be here!’
Dwiggins concluded his remarks at the christening with a story. Two days before Antril passed, he was working on a project, building and installing parts and equipment. He texted Dwiggins “you should be here!” Dwiggins thought something might be wrong.
“I called him immediately and asked him whether something was wrong,” said Dwiggins. “He said, ‘No, just the opposite.’ Antril said that I would be a ‘proud Papa’ if I was there. He told me that he could see firsthand evidence of the culture I was building: all the crew were wearing the proper equipment, using the proper tools for the job, and pre-planning their work. Antril said to me, ‘Leon, do you realize that a few years back, that wouldn’t have happened?’ So after a bit of bantering back and forth, he said, ‘You’re doing it! Keep it up, no matter how tough it gets, ‘cause it’s working!’ Antril was so respected and so well-liked, he had such a grasp on life and safety, for him to accept me as his ‘safety guy’ was really meaningful for me.
“Antril’s ideas and experiences live in the procedures built and still followed to this day by the teams at Delta Western…with his christening, and his name on the side of this barge, Antril’s legacy will always ‘sail on.’”