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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Announces Fines In Bridge Demolition That Killed Couple, Infant Son

The state of Washington has issued workplace safety fines in a bridge demolition accident that killed a couple and their infant son. The fines announced Monday target four construction contractors.

On April 14, workers were building a pedestrian walkway on a highway overpass in Bonney Lake southeast of Tacoma. Suddenly a concrete barrier fell onto the road below crushing a vehicle passing underneath. Killed were Josh and Vanessa Ellis and their eight-month-old son Hudson.

Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries has now cited and fined the four contractors involved for workplace safety hazards. The biggest fine was issued to Eugene, Oregon-based Staton Companies -- nearly $60,000.

One of the findings of the investigation is that Staton allowed work to continue despite concerns about the barrier falling down during demolition. A lawyer for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

All four companies have 15 days to appeal.


Correction: An earlier version of this story identified Josh Ellis as John Ellis.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."