Company's safety record raising questions after fatal trench collapse

BOSTON — A horrifying accident left two workers dead in Boston’s South End Friday and their company’s history of safety issues is coming to light in the ensuing investigation.

Martha Colon could find many words to describe the accident she witnessed Friday afternoon on Dartmouth Street.

"It was horrible, it was horrible. I was praying, I was crying. It was horrible, you know, I've never seen anything like that," Colon said.

Colon heard the workers from Atlantic Drain Service screaming for help outsider her apartment as water rushed into a collapsed trench, trapping and killing two men inside.

“A young man was so distressed, he was crying and looking inside the hole," Colon said.

Kevin "Chuck" Mattocks and Robert Higgins died Friday when the trench they were working in collapsed and flooded with water, according to The Boston Globe.

"Chuck was one of the nicest guys in the world, couldn’t meet a better guy,"Greg Stevens said.

Stevens knows both men because Atlantic Drain shares a building with his Roslindale business. He says the owner and other workers are devastated.

It took well into the night to recover the two men’s bodies from the trench that flooded and collapsed after a water main near the trench broke.

"We're missing a good friend, everyone here," said Stevens.

FOX25 found dozens of OSHA violations against Atlantic Drain. Since 2007, they've been cited for 16 serious violations, six repeated violations and two willful violations.

Some of the fines against Atlantic Drain Service were specifically for trench safety. In the past, OSHA says the company allowed people to work 12 feet down without any cave-in protection

FOX255 has also learned Atlantic Drain has tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid fines -- that OSHA is trying to recoup through debt collections. We talked to the Massachusetts Coalition for Safety and Health -- a workplace safety advocacy group -- that is concerned a company could get the necessary permits to do trench work with this safety record.

“Is there a huge gaping hole in our state law and in our permitting process that allows an employer to claim they are familiar with trenching procedures and yet they have a history of violating them?" MassCOSH Executive Director March Goldstein asked.

City officials told FOX25 they can’t comment on the case due to the on-going investigation.