Crime - Sacto 911

Crane operator charged in deaths of son, second worker at construction site

Three men hug near where the bodies of two workers were recovered after they died Friday morning when their crane-hoisted lift basket fell 80 feet at a bridge construction site on Putah Creek in Winters. The basket landed on timbers covering a 30-foot hole dug for footings for the new span. The 10-worker crew included the father of one of the men killed, said Richard Disney, president of Burlingame-based Disney Construction, which was building the bridge.
Three men hug near where the bodies of two workers were recovered after they died Friday morning when their crane-hoisted lift basket fell 80 feet at a bridge construction site on Putah Creek in Winters. The basket landed on timbers covering a 30-foot hole dug for footings for the new span. The 10-worker crew included the father of one of the men killed, said Richard Disney, president of Burlingame-based Disney Construction, which was building the bridge. hamezcua@sacbee.com

A crane operator faces involuntary manslaughter charges in a 2014 incident in which his son and another construction worker plummeted to their deaths from above a Winters bridge construction site.

Mark Powell operated the crane that lifted the basket carrying son and operator Marcus Zane Powell and pile driver Glenn Allen Hodgson early May 30, 2014, according to a Cal-OSHA citation.

The hoisted basket they rode aboard broke free, plunging the pair eight stories to their deaths.

Cal-OSHA assessed $106,110 in fines and found that the crane Powell used was not certified for lifting and the safety latch on the hook that held the basket did not lock.

Powell was arraigned in Yolo Superior Court on the charges Dec. 21 and is scheduled to return to a Woodland courtroom Feb. 28 for a trial-setting conference.

Yolo County district attorney’s prosecutors filed the manslaughter allegations against Mark Powell as well as two felony counts of violating occupational safety or health standards causing death in a 14-page complaint in April, and Powell was held to answer to the charges on Dec. 6, according to Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.

The root cause of the accident was the failure to survey and inspect the equipment being used and the equipment being repaired

Cal-OSHA

Yolo County district attorney’s officials would not comment because the case is pending.

Powell was one of three supervisors on the site of the new Winters Road Bridge being built by Burlingame-based Disney Construction. The Powells and Hodgson were part of a crew repairing a crane that was being used as a drill rig at the site of the bridge, which spans Putah Creek and connects Yolo and Solano County.

Mark Powell’s crane lifted the younger Powell and Hodgson skyward in the basket to repair and reattach a wire line atop the second drilling crane. Powell then used his crane to lower the men and pull the wire line out of the second crane. But the wire line became stuck in the drilling crane, causing a chain of events that dropped the men and their basket 80 feet to the ground, the Cal-OSHA citation read.

The criminal charges followed more than $100,000 in fines levied against Disney Construction filed after the fatal incident. Cal-OSHA officials assessed $106,110 in fines in November 2014, citing serious violations. Among them, the crane Powell used to lift the younger Powell and Hodgson was not certified for lifting and the safety latch on the hook that held the personnel basket was defective and did not lock.

A “long list of mechanical deficiencies” with the nearly 40-year-old crane used to lift the two men were also found by third-party inspectors following the incident, Cal-OSHA said in its report.

“Since the decision was made to use a crane and a personnel platform, the root cause of the accident was the failure to survey and inspect the equipment being used and the equipment being repaired,” the agency’s inspectors concluded.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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