Workers at the Bonney Lake overpass project where a family of three was killed last month continued the job even though they didn’t have the proper equipment, according to a city report released Monday.
Police interviewed at least five employees who were on scene April 13 when a 105-foot jersey barrier fell from state Route 410 onto a pickup truck driving on Angeline Road East, killing Josh and Vanessa Ellis and their 8-month-old son, Hudson.
At the time, crew members were making vertical cuts to concrete on the span.
A worker who was supposed to be operating an excavator at the time told police he wasn’t able to do his job because the wrong excavator was delivered to the site.
To safely complete the job, an excavator with a “thumb” attachment was needed so the operator could grasp the items and move them. The attachment helps secure whatever is being lifted by the bucket at the end of the excavator’s arm, much like a claw.
The excavator delivered for the overpass project did not have a “thumb” on the bucket, the report said.
The worker told police his understanding was that he was supposed to pick up pieces of the barrier as it was cut, but because he didn’t have the right machine, he was wasn’t able to do the job.
Officials with WHH Nisqually, the contractor the city hired to complete the $1.8 million project, could not be reached for comment Monday about why the wrong excavator was delivered to the site.
City Administrator Don Morrison said he would not speculate on why the wrong machine was used, and said he didn’t know who owned it, but imagined it was a rental.
The city’s investigation found that subcontractors on the project didn’t follow plans given to the city by starting demolition a day ahead of schedule.
Morrison gave this order for subcontractors on the project:
WHH Nisqually hired Highmark Concrete of Buckley as bridge specialists for the project. Highmark hired Eugene, Oregon-based Staton Cos. to do the demolition work. Staton hired American Concrete Cutting to do the cutting.
It was an American Concrete Cutting worker who cut the concrete that fell, Morrison said.
Staton and American Concrete Cutting have been removed from the project, he said.
“The city felt the demolition plan and safety plan had not been sufficiently followed to have us comfortable allowing the subcontractors to remain on the job,” Morrison said.
Work on the project resumed Monday but no demolition will be done until WHH Nisqually gets a new safety and demolition plan approved by the city and the state Department of Transportation.
That process could take up to three weeks.
Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.