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Pipe company and owner guilty of manslaughter for drowning deaths of two workers in South End trench

Mattocks and Higgins. Photos from Suffolk County DA.

A Suffolk Superior Court judge today found Atlantic Drain Service of Roslindale and owner Kevin Otto guilty of two counts of manslaughter for the 2016 deaths of two of his workers in a trench at Dartmouth and Tremont streets in the South End, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.

Otto had asked for a jury waived trial and argued that BWSC was to blame for the deaths because it failed to properly maintain a hydrant supply line while Robert Higgins and Kevin Mattocks worked 14 feet down in a trench. But prosecutors pointed to past OSHA violations levied against Otto and said he failed to take mandated steps for trench work, such as shoring up deep trenches before workers went down into them.

According to the DA's office:

The evidence proved that Otto and Atlantic Drain Service knowingly and willfully place the victims in extreme danger by failing to utilize cave-in protection, and that Otto lied and produced false documentation to investigators in the wake of the men’s deaths.

The victims were working in a trench at 12 Dartmouth St. in the South End, where Atlantic Drain Services had been hired to install water and sewer lines. The company was not utilizing cave-in prevention measures. Otto and Atlantic Drain Services were aware of the grave danger this created for workers; the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration had cited the company in 2007 and again in 2012 for failing to utilize the safety precautions. OSHA also required the company to provide comprehensive safety training to employees.

At approximately 12:30 p.m. on October 21, 2016, dirt began to slough off the sides of the trench, partially burying the men up to their waists. A fire hydrant on the side of the collapsing trench fell into the hole, filling it with water within seconds, drowning the trapped victims.

After finding the company and Otto guilty, Judge Mitchell Kaplan scheduled sentencing for Dec. 4.

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Comments

His company had been cited many times for unsafe practices.

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Voting closed 50

This is a case in which the company should have never gotten the permit. When a company has serious OSHA violations they should loose the ability to be issued city permits.

If Massachusetts cared, they'd create a system where it would be easy for local building officials to check the status of a company and deny permits on any number of grounds, OSHA violations being one of them.

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Voting closed 54

And, you're not going like this, so do the 2 workers.

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No... Especially not if they were not provided with mandated safety training that the company failed to provide.

Literally blame the victims, why dontcha

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I can't forget the photo of a coworker agonizing at the scene. Many people go about their day and don't realize just how hazardous some jobs are. God Rest Their Souls.

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Voting closed 94

I too recall those agonizing photos, but the guy attempting the rescue was not even on that job, he was working another nearby.

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Both Otto and his company were found guilty on all counts, which included one count of witness intimidation, though no details in the Boston Globe article.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/10/31/guilty-verdicts-case-two-wo...

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Voting closed 37

Not to mention called every name in the asshole's vocabulary for pointing out - and reporting - unshored trenches when I see them.

This is why I do it.

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For the loss of the two men, but I'm glad that the company was held accountable. Especially in light of previous safety violations.

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fine? loss of permit access?

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Sentencing Dec 4.

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The owner was found guilty of two manslaughter charges. Did you not read?

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and do lots of other stuff good too.

What's a likely punishment for a corporation found guilty of manslaughter? Atlantic Drains isn't going to Bridgewater. Otto wasn't the only entity found guilty (if you, you know, read the post.)

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Well the company has been permanently closed so now the owner is being held accountable.

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Well the company has been permanently closed so now the owner is being held accountable

Good. It serves the owner right!

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Just in hiding.Why does the city give a permit to company with so many violations.

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