Owner of construction company tied to fatal 2021 trench collapse in Breckenridge faces manslaughter charges | VailDaily.com

Owner of construction company tied to fatal 2021 trench collapse in Breckenridge faces manslaughter charges

The owner of A4S, a now-defunct Vail construction company, turned himself into law enforcement on a warrant related to the death of 20-year-old Marlon Diaz in the 2021 trench collapse

Ryan Spencer
Summit Daily News
Emergency crews are pictured Nov. 16, 2021 at Sallie Barber Road near Breckenridge, where a trench collapse killed 20-year-old Marlon Diaz and partially buried another individual who was rescued. The metal structure in the photo is a steel trench box, which is typically used to support the wall of a trench to keep it from caving in.
Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District/Courtesy photo

The owner of a Vail construction company is facing felony manslaughter charges related to a trench collapse in Summit County that killed a construction worker in 2021.

Peter Dillon, the owner of the now defunct A4S LLC, surrendered to law enforcement after the Summit County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for his arrest Jan. 24, the U.S. Department of Labor said in a news release.

“There is no excuse for Peter Dillon’s failures to protect workers when federal requirements clearly outline and require safety measures proven to save lives,” Regional Solicitor of Labor John Rainwater said in the news release. “Today’s arrest by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office cannot recover a life lost in this senseless tragedy, but it is a step toward seeking justice for the family.”

In May 2022, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Dillon after a worker installing residential sewer pipes suffered fatal injuries when the trench around him caved in, the release states. The construction worker who died was 20-year-old Marlon Diaz

Marlon Diaz moved from Honduras to Houston on Dec. 31, 2020, before moving to Colorado a few days later. Diaz was killed in a trench collapse along Sallie Barber Road near Breckenridge on Nov. 16, 2021. He was 20 years old.
Ana Diaz/Courtesy photo

The collapse resulted from deteriorating conditions at the project, which A4S LLC could have prevented by using legally required trench protection systems, according to the Department of Labor. 

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The department referred the case to the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s office recommending criminal charges for A4S LLC’s refusal to require safety protection, despite worsening trench conditions that included at least one trench collapse, the release states.

OSHA issued three willful citations to A4S LLC for not ensuring the excavation was inspected by a competent person, failing to instruct employees on the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and not having a trench protective system in place, the release states. Investigators also issued an additional serious citation for not having a safe means of egress within 25 lateral feet of employees working in a trench.

The agency proposed penalties of about $450,000 and placed the company in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, according to the Department of Labor. A4S LLC has since shuttered and Dillon agreed to forfeit any future ownership, leadership or management position that involves trenching, excavation or the oversight of work place safety and health, the release states.

Collapse and cave-ins pose the greatest threat to trenching and excavation workers, according to the Department of Labor. In 2022, OSHA reported that at least 39 industry workers died, 22 of them in the first six months of the year. Between 2011 and 2018, 166 workers died in trench collapses, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet and OSHA has a National Emphasis Program on trenching and excavations, according to the Department of Labor.

OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer Rouse in Denver said in the release that the tragedy should serve as a reminder to other employers who willingly fail their responsibilities to keep workers safe that the Department of Labor will exhaust every resource to hold employers accountable.

“OSHA has pledged to work with state prosecutors to raise the stakes in appropriate trench death cases,” Rous said in the release. “And this is an example.”

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