Company disputes fine in death of Martinez woman & her unborn baby

By DAVID SCHOLZ
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – JRR Construction Co. was fined $4,050 for its role in a gravel truck accident that took the life of a Martinez woman and her unborn child on March 23, 2015.

But a year later, the matter still remains unresolved as San Mateo-based JRR Construction opted to appeal the fine last August. No hearing date has yet been set to hear the firm’s challenge of the citation issued by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA).

JRR refused to comment for this story.

Lifelong Martinez resident Lindsey Combs, 32, who was two months pregnant at the time of the accident, was killed when a big-rig trailer tipped and spilled its contents onto her vehicle as she was moving her vehicle at the request of workers at the scene along Shell Avenue.

Cal/OSHA determined that “prior to and during the course of the investigation, including but not limited to March 23, 2015, the employer did not make a thorough survey of the conditions of the work site to determine the predictable hazards to employees and safeguards necessary to prosecute the work brought about by the unloading operation of the dump truck in a safe manner on a sloped and uneven ground with inadequate space.’’

JRR Construction was contracted to demolish and build a half-mile stretch sidewalk along Shell Avenue known as the “Shell Avenue Pedestrian/Bicycle Improvement Project.”

The truck’s owner, Daryl Crocket, from Greg’s Trucking Service, who was not cited by state investigators, had rented the trailer that tipped.

The driver was raising the trailer to dump the gravel when the rig tipped onto Combs’ car that was still in her own driveway. Moments before, Combs had been asked to move her car by work crew members, according to Martinez Police.

“This surely is not the cost of a human life,’’ said Erika Monterroza, a spokeswoman for the Department of Industrial Relations, of the $4,050 fine imposed in this case.

Monterroza emphasized that Cal/OSHA does not do criminal investigations. Rather, the fine in this case, regarded as “serious,” reflects the civil process that has been set by the legislature.

Regardless of the size of the company, $25,000 is the maximum fine that could be imposed.

A check of previous actions against JRR Construction showed a prior “serious’’ incident in June 2010 at a Gilroy project site incident that resulted with a $2,025 fine.

A pair of other infractions filed against the company since 2009 totaled $150 and $200 respectively.

Monterroza described the company’s safety track record as “not remarkable.’’

In the wake of the tragedy, relatives established a pair of fundraisers. One set up to help bring relatives from Montana to California for the funeral raised $6,290, and the second one (www.gofundme.com/lindseycombs) was collecting funds to help pay for funeral expenses and establish an education fund for Combs’ daughter, Lyric. As of June 6, $17,923 had been raised.

A check of court filings in the Contra Costa County Superior Court showed no civil actions were initiated by the family against the construction company in the wake of the accident.

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