Arraignments Scheduled in Fatal Trench Collapse

An arraignment date has been scheduled in the case against the business owner and corporation charged in the deaths of workers Robert Higgins, 47, and Kelvin Mattocks, 53, in the South End last October.

Atlantic Drain Services, Inc., and its owner and sole officer, Kevin Otto, of Blackstone, are expected to appear Feb. 23 for arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court after a grand jury returned indictments on Wednesday, Feb. 8, charging each with two counts of manslaughter, one count of misleading an investigator under the state’s witness intimidation statute, and six counts of concealing a record under the evidence tampering statute.

According to prosecutors, Otto and Atlantic Drain Services acted wantonly and recklessly on Oct. 21, when they failed to comply with federal regulations that they knew required excavation sites deeper than five feet and adjacent utilities to be shored up in order to prevent a cave-in.

Without this standard precaution, dirt inside the Dartmouth Street (South End) trench where Higgins and Mattocks were working gave way and a nearby fire hydrant collapsed into the hole, filling the trench with water and claiming the two workers’ lives, prosecutors said. During the investigation that followed, prosecutors allege, Otto and Atlantic Drain provided doctored records to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and concealed them entirely from the Suffolk County Special Grand Jury.

Assistant District Attorney Lynn Feigenbaum of the Conley’s Senior Trial Unit led the grand jury proceedings resulting in indictments against the defendants. Arraignment will take place in the Magistrate’s Session of Suffolk Superior Court.

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