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.
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.