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Workers crushed

July 21, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Two Pennsylvania men were crushed to death Tuesday after a crate filled with 200-pound drilling rods fell on them as they were installing underground fiber-optic cables along U.S. 40 west of Hagerstown.

Mark Andrew Goshorn, 25, of Blairs Mills, Pa., and Jamie L. Peterson, 29, of Spring Run, Pa., were employees of Leon E. Wintermyer Inc. of Etters, Pa., according to Assistant Fire Chief Bob Daley of Maugansville Fire Co. Leon E. Wintermyer Inc. specializes in excavation, installing underground utilities, paving, directional drilling and heavy hauling, according to its Web site.

Several attempts were made to contact Wintermyer, but company officials had not returned messages by Tuesday evening.

Daley said the workers were killed when "tons of drilling bits fell from the drilling machine," pinning them below.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Maryland State Police.

The accident occurred shortly after 10 a.m. when they and other workers were attempting to remove the crate from the top of their Navigator directional drilling machine. Police estimated the crate weighed about 8,000 pounds when it rolled off to the right of the machine, striking the men.

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State Police troopers directed traffic around the accident site, about two miles west of Hagerstown, as emergency vehicles responded. Williamsport Volunteer Fire Co. and Williamsport Volunteer Ambulance Service responded to the accident, as well as the Maugansville units.

Maryland State Police and Maryland Occupational Safety and Health are investigating the accident.

Roger Campbell of the MOSH office in Hagerstown said he had been to the accident site, but declined to comment while the investigation continued.

Joe Pillar, lead inspector for Baker Engineering, said the two men were part of a six-man crew working at the site, and that three other crews were working on the project. They were installing underground fiber-optic cables from Hagerstown to Hearthstone Mountain near Clear Spring for AT&T, he said.

Leon E. Wintermyer Inc. was installing the fiber-optic line as a subcontractor for AT&T, according to AT&T spokeswoman Deborah Jones.

Speaking by phone from AT&T's headquarters in Bedminster, N.J., Jones said the company won't provide specifics about the project for security reasons.

"It's a standard type of work that we do, maintenance on our network and (an) upgrade," she said.

Daley said there were no other injuries, but that the fire company was working with Wintermyer to arrange counseling for the remaining crew members.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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