Justice was finally meted out to the survivors of two laborers who lost their lives in a 2016 trench disaster in South Boston.
The defendants, the Atlantic Drain Service and its owner, chose a bench trial in Suffolk Superior Court. The judge presiding over the case returned a guilty verdict for each defendant on the charge of witness intimidation and double counts of manslaughter.
The company owner was at the site of his employees’ deaths on Oct. 21, 2016, when the men drowned after a trench with no shored trench boxes caused a fire hydrant to tip over. The victims were immobilized by dirt that was waist high when the 14-foot pit filled up with water, drowning them. The men were age 47 and 53 at the time of their deaths.
The owner had already been warned by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at at least two previous job sites that cave-in protections were mandated for any trenches that were more than five feet deep.
Sentencing is set for Dec. 4. The defendant could be sentenced to as long as 20 years in prison for each death. Under Massachusetts law, companies with manslaughter convictions can be fined as much as $250,000, and the corporation could be debarred for a decade.
Families of the victims may take small comfort in knowing that justice was carried out in criminal court.
Those in similar circumstances can also opt to seek civil justice by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable defendants who caused or contributed to their loved ones’ untimely and unnecessary deaths.