According to Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Representative Michael Hartwick, 51, was detailing traffic on I-275 to provide safety and security for construction in progress along the road when Hartwick was injured and killed by Archer Western employee Juan Ariel Molina-Sales.
Archer Western is now dealing with its second death in a construction area in less than a year.
The company was cited for serious safety violations in 2021 after an employee was crushed to death by falling concrete. The death occurred during the Pinellas Gateway Highway Project on October 6, 2021.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a 47-year-old carpenter was working near a crane when a 28-foot section of concrete fell and hung the employee on the trench box wall. The employee was killed with chest wounds.”
The investigation concluded that Archer Western “violated safety standards by allowing workers to remain in the crane-loading danger zone”.
The report stated that the victim was working with five other employees inside a trench box cutting concrete piles used to construct barriers to the elevated driveways of the highway. The concrete pile that hit the 47-year-old “was attached to a crane with damaged wire rope. While cutting, the pile broke free and hit the worker.”
“Archer Western could have prevented this tragic accident if they had taken the necessary steps to identify and mitigate the safety risks,” said Danielle Jendra, director of the OSHA District Office in Tampa, Florida. “Workers deserve to start each working day without worrying about whether they will go home safely. Employers are obligated to follow safety standards to protect their workers from all known hazards.”
ABC Action News’ Michael Paluska emailed Archer Western for comment on Friday, but received no response. In their Tampa office, a staff member said someone from HR would come out and talk to us but didn’t show up. They closed the blinds while we waited patiently outside for comment.
In 2018, according to Miami ABC affiliate WPLG, Archer Western was cited after two workers died after a concrete barrier collapsed.
According to WPLG, federal officials said a construction company did not do enough to protect its workers before a concrete barrier collapsed and killed two men along Interstate 95. The 33-year-old, 33, was in a trench repairing drainpipes around 3 a.m. on February 4 when one of the walls collapsed. Cement bearing over it.
The Florida Department of Transportation did not respond to requests for comment on Friday’s death or about Archer Western.
According to Gualtieri, front-end bulldozer driver, Molina Salles, 32, of Honduras. Molina Salles, an illegal immigrant, faces charges of leaving the scene and death. It is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of four years in prison if convicted. Molina Salles was scheduled to be transferred to the Pinellas County Jail on Friday afternoon. There is also an immigration hold on Molina-Salles if given a pledge of local charge.
Gualtieri said Archer Western workers at the construction site lied to law enforcement and gave false names.
“There were a lot of people, and most of them were lying to us,” Gualtieri said. “They were giving us nicknames and obstructing the investigation.” “I’ve got a bunch of illegal immigrants working for this government contractor abroad who shouldn’t be here and shouldn’t work and shouldn’t be there doing it.”
Archer Western did not respond to multiple requests for comment. When we went to their office in Tampa, they closed the blinds and turned off the lights.
According to OSHA:
Archer Western – De Moya JV II is a joint venture between The Walsh Group of Chicago, a subsidiary of Archer Western of Atlanta and The De Moya Group Inc. in Miami. The Pinellas Gateway Expressway of the Florida Department of Transportation is one of the largest construction projects in the Tampa Bay area to date. The two-part project consists of the construction of two new two-lane elevated toll roads that provide direct connections between US 19 and I-275 and between the Bayside Bridge north of 49th Street North and I-275 in Pinellas County.