GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — An Avon resident, Bryan Johnson, was sentenced by a judge to 10 months in jail Wednesday. Johnson faced felony manslaughter and negligent homicide charges following a trench collapse at his company’s Granby worksite that fatally injured worker Rosario Martinez.
Martinez, 50, was installing a water service line at a residential construction site when the accident happened on June 14, 2018.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Martinez had been hired to do drywall and carpentry work by Johnson’s company, ContractOne, Inc., and was not trained for trenching or excavation work. Other employees present during the accident had been not trained in those areas of expertise, either.
This despite the same trench having collapsed the day before, per investigators.
“The evidence collected during OSHA’s investigation…reflects particularly egregious behavior,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Nancy Hauter. “Trenching is one of the most dangerous activities in the construction industry and Bryan Johnson failed to take any affirmative steps to protect employees, despite repeated warnings that work activities at the jobsite were hazardous.”
Martinez’s son was also working on the site, according to investigators. He helped firefighters dig his father out.
Martinez died from his injuries at a nearby hospital.
In a press release, OSHA said its investigators found ContractOne Inc., which is headquartered in Edwards, failed to use a trench protective system, did not place excavated soil piles a safe distance from trench edges, failed to provide ladders for egress, failed to conduct regular site inspections, and did not use appropriate utility location procedures during trenching operations.
“Safety and health is paramount and takes precedence over production or profits,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor John Rainwater. “The department believes the facts of this case warrant the sentence and we support the District Attorney’s efforts to hold Johnson accountable for failing to protect workers under his care and supervision. Incarceration sends a strong message. We believe that prosecuting criminal cases has the ability to change the industry.”
Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts of Reckless Endangerment and one count of 3rd Degree Assault Causing Injury, all misdemeanors. He did so last month, almost three years to the day of the accident.
He was sentenced Wednesday, two days after his 53rd birthday.
The Grand County judge also ordered Johnson to pay Martinez’s family up to $25,000, make contributions to local charities, undergo safety training, allow OSHA inspectors on site, and serve three years probation.
A sergeant at the Grand County Jail told CBS4 that Johnson has until January 2 to report to the jail and begin serving his sentence.
CBS4 requested a statement from ContractOne by company email on Saturday. This story will be modified if one is received.