September 27, 2021 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Wind Farm Fatality: 5 Receive Manslaughter Charges; 3 Companies Pay $549,874 in L&I Fine

wind farm fatality

The Washington State court case of the fatality of wind farm worker Jonathan Stringer has seen three companies pay out $549,874 for violating worksite safety.

A wind farm construction worker, Jonathan Stringer, age 24, died in January 2020 as a result of the collapse of an unreinforced trench.

Prior to the trial, The News Tribune reported that, “Five people are facing manslaughter charges for the death of a Chehalis man who died in January 2020 when a trench that had not been reinforced collapsed during construction of the Skookumchuck Wind Farm along the border of Lewis and Thurston counties.

“The charges were filed in Lewis County Superior Court on Aug. 9, 20 months after the death of Jonathan F. Stringer, who left behind a young daughter and a fiancée.

“Three of the co-defendants — site foreman Matt Buckels, 43, of Edmond, Oklahoma; site manager Kurt Schwarting, 46, of Bakersfield, California; and site supervisor Joel A. Thome, 32, of West Lowville, New York — have been charged with second-degree manslaughter under accusations of criminal negligence.

“The remaining two co-defendants — Paul S. Csizsmar, 25, of Brantingham, New York, and Kenneth P. DeShazer, 51, of Los Angeles, California — have each been charged with first-degree manslaughter under accusations that they ‘did recklessly cause the death’ of Stringer, according to court documents.”

“On January 9, 2020, Stringer and the five codefendants had been at the site of the wind farm project in Lewis County digging a trench to install conduit under a culvert.”

“The conduit became jammed during the installation process, and DeShazer entered the trench to set up rigging that would allow them to pull the conduit under the culvert using the excavator. However, Stringer was killed.

“His body was recovered the next day.

“An autopsy confirmed that Stringer died ‘of asphyxiation due to chest compression caused by the weight of soil on top of him from the trench collapse,’” according to court documents.

Source: The News Tribune, “5 charged with manslaughter in death of worker during construction of wind farm,” by Emily Fitzgerald and Eric Rosane, The Chronicle, Centraliau. Updated September 3, 2021, 8:21 am.

Learn more from this Worker article, “Manager Claims ‘Unsafe Work Culture’ Leading To Injuries, Death At Wind Turbine Site.”

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