Washington agency fines 4 contractors for Bonney Lake bridge collapse that killed family

Updated Oct 22, 2015
Photo credit: Bonney Lake PolicePhoto credit: Bonney Lake Police

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (WL&I) has fined four contractors for safety hazards on an SR 410 overpass collapse in Bonney Lake in April that killed a couple and their 8-month-old son.

The companies, which have 15 business days to appeal the fines, include:

  • WHH Nisqually Federal Services, Tacoma, general contractor. The company was fined $8,400 for “not ensuring a workplace free from recognized hazards and for exposing workers on the lower level to the possibility of an unplanned collapse.”
  • HighMark Concrete Contractors, Buckley, contracted by WHH for concrete work. HighMark also did not ensure a workplace free from recognize hazards and was fined $4,900.
  • Staton Companies, Eugene, Oregon, contracted to remove part of the bridge. Staton was fined the most out of the four contractors, at $58,800 for “one ‘willful’ and two ‘serious’ violations for exposing workers to danger while demolishing the concrete barrier on the overpass.” The company did not follow steps in its own demolition plan, exposed workers to an “unplanned” collapse and did not secure or brace the concrete barrier to prevent a collapse.
  • Hamilton Construction, Springfield, Oregon, contracted to cut the concrete barrier. The company was fined $14,700 for “three serious violations” akin to Staton’s citations.

A large chunk of concrete fell atop Josh and Vanessa Ellis and their son Hudson in April as they were driving beneath the overpass in a pickup truck. The chunk was a portion of a jersey barrier and part of the original overpass, built in 1992.

“Demolition is one of the most hazardous operations in construction,” Anne Soiza, assistant director for the WL&I Division of Occupational Safety & Health, said. “Preparing and following a specific safety plan that anticipates the worst-case conditions is critical. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen in this case.”