HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)– 28-year-old Dustin Payne of Hazel Green died in the hospital, days after a tank he was working on exploded in North Dakota.
Payne worked as a welder for Nabors Completion and Production Services in Williston, the hub of the bustling North Dakota oil patch. He was hurt in an explosion on October 3. Payne’s family and friends in Alabama have been monitoring his situation from afar.
After his passing came the shock.
“I mean, you expect something like that when you go off to war but when you fight in two wars and come back and then, an accident like this?” said his friend and fellow Marine, Seth Crunk.
Crunk recalls some of his favorite memories of Payne, who enlisted in the Marines in 2004 and voluntarily served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“His laugh was a very distinguished laugh. You always knew who he was, when he was laughing,” said Crunk.
Payne was nicknamed “Flame” by his friends. Crunk explained why, “He said ‘flame on’ one day and, he flamed on. From then on he was just ‘The Flame’,” he said, smiling.
Payne was a special part of the Hazel Green community, even though he lived far away.
“That’s a testament to the guy he was,” said Crunk. “Everyone who knew him, loved him. And we’ll do anything we can to help this family out.”
Monday, his fellow Marines– including Crunk– met Payne’s body at the airport. They planned to escort him to the funeral home.
“It’s one of my brothers. He’s a great friend, a great man, and he deserves the best,” said Crunk.
Huntsville businesses are also helping out Payne’s family, because they know all of this can get expensive.
Mickey Summerford, owner of Fubar in downtown Huntsville, is waiving the cover charge at the nightclub this Friday night. Instead, that money will be donated to Payne’s memorial fund.
“Our heart goes out to him and his family, and we just want to do something for him,” said Summerford.
Inside, a memorial will stand in the VIP section of the club.
“[It will be] different memorabilia from friends and family, because I know a lot of people would want to tell him bye,” said Summerford.
You can view Payne’s fundraising page at this link.