State fines contractors after concrete slab fell from bridge, killing family of 3

TUMWATER, Wash. -- The state has fined four construction contractors a total of $86,800 for workplace safety hazards after a concrete slab fell from an SR 410 overpass in Bonney Lake, killing three members of a family.

The slab crushed a pickup truck as it was traveling on Angeline Road under the overpass, killing Josh and Vanessa Ellis, both in their 20s, and their 8-month-old son, Hudson, on April 13.

Both Josh and Vanessa were youth pastors at the EastPointe Foursquare Church in Puyallup.

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

Staton Companies, of Eugene, Ore., which was hired to remove a portion of the existing bridge, was fined $58,800 for one "willful" and two "serious" violations for exposing workers to danger while demolishing the barrier on the bridge.

L&I said the investigation found that Staton had concerns about the possibility of the barrier falling down during cutting, yet still continued with the work.

Hamilton Construction, of Springfield, Ore., was find $14,700 for three serious violations, but none deemed to be willful.

WHH Nisqually Federal Services, of Tacoma, the general contractor, was fined $8,400 for two serious violations.

Highmark Concrete Contractors, of Buckley, Wash., was fined $4,900 for one serious violation.

The employers have 15 business days to appeal, L&I said.