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Officials probe cause of fatal Bourne crane accident

Authorities at the scene of an accident Saturday in Bourne, where two workers died. The tipped truck is upright at right.

Steve heaslip/Cape Cod Times via Associated Press

Authorities at the scene of an accident Saturday in Bourne, where two workers died. The tipped truck is upright at right.

Two electrical linemen may have fallen as far as 170 feet in a tragic accident that claimed their lives in Bourne shortly after noon Saturday, an official said Sunday.

John Loughran of Quincy and Joseph L. Boyd III of Fall River, both 34, died after a crane truck tipped over while the men were working at the end of its boom, authorities said. The reason the truck tipped upward is not known.

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Boyd’s brother Jonathan, 30, remembered him as a devoted father of two sons: Joseph IV, 2, and Caydon, 4.

“He loved his kids more than anything in the world,” Jonathan Boyd said by phone on Sunday. “Their eyes would light up when he walked in the room.”

He said he had always looked up to his older brother, “a smart guy” who loved his girlfriend, Shelly Lake, and “enjoyed riding his motorcycle and working on his muscle car.”

Deputy Chief Dana Dupuis of the Bourne Fire Department said the crane supporting the men had been extended to its full length, about 140 feet, before the truck tipped. The men landed inside a hole where gravel is excavated, he said.

“The crane boom and basket fell, and it actually went below grade because of a hole, 30 feet lower than ground level,” he said. “Potentially that’s a 170-foot fall, even though they were only extended out 140 feet.”

The crane truck came to rest “standing with its cab up in air and rear bumper on the ground,” Dupuis said. “It literally just stood the truck straight up.”

The Boston-based company that employed the men was cited nearly a decade ago for three violations, including two regarding aerial lifts, by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but addressed the issues.

Both men loved being linemen, said those who knew them.

Joseph Boyd often worked six or seven days a week, enjoying “the excitement, just being up there, figuring things out, being free,” Jonathan Boyd said. “I know it’s a very dangerous job, but Joe was fearless. He was a very strong, fearless person.”

Brian T. Murphy, a union official who knew both men, said Loughran shared Boyd’s passion for the work.

“John Loughran always had a smile and very much so loved line work,” Murphy said. “I had the pleasure of working side by side with John for over 30 days straight when Hurricane Sandy ripped through Long Island and the Northeast.”

Murphy, the business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 104, said Loughran came from a family of linemen and that the union’s Walpole headquarters is dedicated to Loughran’s grandfather.

Saturday was the hardest day in Murphy’s 27 years as a lineman, he said.

He said he traveled with a longtime friend of Boyd’s and the business manager of IBEW Local 223, where Boyd’s father is a member and where Boyd began his career, to tell the young man’s mother that he had died.

“I will never forget her sorrow,” Murphy said in an e-mail. “I will always feel her tears.”

He said linemen are a “different breed of workers, who are often overlooked or called electricians. We are not; we are proud of being linemen and would not trade our job for any other.”

Officials said the men were employed by Mass Bay Electrical Corp. That company had been contracted to perform routine maintenance work on power lines for NStar, said Rhiannon D’Angelo, an NStar spokeswoman, on Saturday.

OSHA records show that Mass Bay Electrical was inspected at a Boston work site in July 2005 and cited for three serious violations, including two regarding aerial lifts.

Ted Fitzgerald, an OSHA spokesman, said in an e-mail that citations considered “serious” by the agency are those “that can be hazardous to employees’ safety or health if uncorrected.”

The company corrected the hazards and paid a $962.50 fine, Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said OSHA’s 2005 inspection of Mass Bay Electrical appeared to be its most recent and that there is no set schedule for inspections.

No one answered the phone at Mass Bay Electrical’s East Boston headquarters Saturday and Sunday, and the company did not respond to requests for comment sent by e-mail and left through its 24-hour emergency line.

Dupuis, the deputy fire chief, said firefighters were dispatched at 12:38 p.m. Saturday, after multiple calls about the accident at Cape Cod Aggregates, a gravel, sand, and stone supplier at 665 Scenic Highway. Crews arrived to find the men “unresponsive, pulseless, and not breathing,” he said.

The men had been laboring close to the Cape Cod Canal, working on a recently installed tower carrying power lines over the waterway, Dupuis said. He said the lines appeared to have been live at the time of the work and that power was shut down for safety after crews arrived.

Dupuis said the Mine Safety and Health Administration of the US Department of Labor was on the scene, along with OSHA.

OSHA is investigating to “determine if there were violations of workplace safety standards in connection with this incident,” Fitzgerald, the OSHA spokesman, said by e-mail.

He said it was too early to say when OSHA would conclude its investigation, but that by law it would be within six months.

Fitzgerald said the agency does not discuss preliminary findings and he could not comment on the Bourne accident.

Michael D. O’Keefe, district attorney for the Cape and Islands, said Saturday night that State Police had investigated and concluded their inquiry after finding “no suspicion of criminal activity of any kind was involved.”

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.
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