A Massachusetts contractor was sentenced to two years in prison for manslaughter in a 2016 Boston trench collapse that killed two workers.

Kevin Otto of Atlantic Drain Service Company Inc. was sentenced in December in Suffolk County Court in the deaths of Robert Higgins, 47, and Kelvin Mattocks, 53.

The two men died Oct. 21, 2016 in Boston’s South End when a fire hydrant supply line broke and flooded the trench where they were working.

"The flood mixed with dirt and clay, trapping the men within seconds below the rising waterline, and, ultimately, claiming their lives," the Suffolk County District Attorney's office said.

Otto was also given three years of probation for intimidating witnesses in the investigation into the collapse.

Authorities said Otto also tried to mislead OSHA investigators.

History of Violations

The court fined Atlantic Drain $7,000—$1,000 for each manslaughter count and $5,000 for witness intimidation.

Prosecutors sought seven to 10 years in prison, arguing that Otto's business had a history of safety violations and should have installed protections known as trench boxes.

OSHA cited Atlantic Drain for 18 violations, including that it failed to provide safety training and basic safeguards to its workers.

"Employers who display willful disregard for employee safety and/or obstruct, mislead, or otherwise interfere with an OSHA inspection will face serious consequences," said Galen Blanton, OSHA's New England regional administrator.

"The court agreed Kevin Otto knew what safeguards were needed and required to protect his employees, yet he chose to ignore his responsibility to provide them.

"The result was the loss of two men."

The judge also banned Atlantic Drain and any company owned and operated by Otto from employing, directly or indirectly, anyone working in a trench deeper than four feet during his three-year probation.

For more information, contact CBIA's Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).