Oklahomans turn crash site into uplifting memorial for Aubrey McClendon

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Described as an oil tycoon and an Oklahoma visionary, Aubrey McClendon's death still hangs heavy over many in the state.

"I was watching TV, and they broke in on a report," said one man, who lives near the scene of the crash. "Gosh, my wife and I were just shocked."

Little more than a day after a Chevy Tahoe smashed a turnpike overpass, all that remains are shattered glass, charred cement and the smell of smoke in the air.

But, many have chosen to turn the area into a makeshift memorial.

Dozens have since dropped by, leaving behind mementos and prayers.

"Just kind of got to me the way it happened," said one onlooker.

McClendon's death came just one day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of conspiring to rig bids on oil and gas leases in northwest Oklahoma while working as CEO of Chesapeake Energy.

"I was driving into work yesterday and saw the accident scene," said Karen Albornoz, former Chesapeake employee. "I just had chills that ran down my spine."

Albornoz worked for McClendon for more than a decade.

The two have since left the company, with McClendon retiring amidst controversy in 2013 and Albornoz laid off with hundreds of colleagues last fall.

Her reviews of the company remain glowing, though, as are her memories of its former CEO.

"I couldn't believe it was him," she said. "For someone so great and so talented to have his life end in that way is just sad."

Following his retirement from Chesapeake, McClendon founded American Energy Partners.

The group released the following statement Thursday:

"AELP would like to thank EMG, its numerous investors and industry friends for the tremendous outpouring of support for the company and for the McClendon family. While all of the employees of AELP are deeply saddened by this tragic event, we are firm in our conviction that Aubrey would want us to persevere and continue his extraordinary legacy of innovation and creativity.

Scott R. Mueller, Ryan A. Turner and Thomas J. Blalock, McClendon’s leadership team at AELP, added:

“We are proud to have worked for Aubrey and to have been a part of starting seven institutionally-funded businesses under his leadership. One of Aubrey’s many skills was recruiting, motivating and retaining the industry’s strongest talent and each of the businesses that Aubrey created with EMG is led by a dedicated management team that is positioned for success in the years to come. While Aubrey’s absence will leave a tremendous void on the AELP platform, we employ a talented team of individuals that will be available to support, if needed, the existing businesses and it will carry on the new business development tradition established by our founder, friend and mentor, Aubrey K. McClendon.”

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