Criminal Justice

Company Charged in 'Big Dig' Death Case

A grand jury has charged with involuntary manslaughter the Brewster, N.Y.-based company that provided the glue that is being blamed, in part, for the collapse of the “Big Dig” tunnel in Boston last summer. A passenger in a car underneath was crushed to death when the roof of the Interstate 90 tunnel collapsed, and her husband, who was driving, reportedly had to leave her to suffer and crawl to safety through a 12-inch opening.

The grand jury’s indictment today did not include any other company involved in the construction and design of the tunnel, even though Powers Fasteners Inc. is not the only company reportedly being criticized over the hugely expensive defective tunnel project. However, State Attorney General Martha Coakley suggested in a press conference today that more indictments may occur, saying that the investigation of the case continues, reports the Boston Herald.

Coakley also expressed unhappiness over the maximum penalty that can be imposed against a company for involuntary manslaughter in Massachusetts: a $1,000 fine, the Herald and Boston Globe report. “For this particular charge, it does not seem to be even close to an appropriate punishment,” Coakley said.

In a written statement, Jeffrey Powers, the president of the company, said officials there are “stunned beyond belief” by the indictment. “The only reason that our company has been indicted is that unlike others implicated in this tragedy, we don’t have enough money to buy our way out,” it continues. The company, he said, had filled a special order for a different epoxy to be used to help secure ceiling bolts in the tunnel, and had no idea that the wrong epoxy was being used on the project for this purpose. “At no time did anyone ever tell Powers—and Powers never had reason to believe—that its Fast Set product was used in the tunnel ceiling,” he said.

The family of the woman who died in the tunnel collapse filed a lawsuit in August 2006, as detailed in a USA Today article.

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