The dump truck driver involved in February’s fatal crash at a downtown Boston worksite is one of several workers with spotty driving histories who were employed by the troubled construction company linked to the tragedy, records show.
Authorities suspended the license of Leonardo X. Diaz, 44, of Lynn, two days after two of his colleagues were allegedly struck by a dump truck and pushed into an excavation hole in the street, Registry of Motor Vehicles records show. Diaz is one of four Atlantic Coast Utilities drivers who have been found operating a commercial motor vehicle without the proper license since 2017, according to police reports.
The state medical examiner recently ruled the deaths of Jordy Alexander Castaneda Romero, 27, and Juan Carlos Figueroa Gutierrez, 33, the result of an accident. No criminal charges have been filed.
Authorities have not publicly identified Diaz as the driver, but federal transportation records and state RMV files make clear he was the driver involved in the crash. He was properly licensed to operate the dump truck at the time, records show.
A Boston police spokesman referred questions to the office of Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, which cited an active, ongoing investigation. Diaz, who records show has since created his own demolition company from his home, has not responded to requests for comment.
Atlantic Coast Utilities, a Boston-based excavation business owned by Laurence M. Moloney, has a lengthy history of workplace infractions and legal disputes, and now faces new health and safety inspections opened by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. One inspection was initiated a day after the men’s deaths and focuses on trench safety, records show. Moloney declined to comment.
Witness interviews and records obtained by the Globe show the men were struck by a dump truck and knocked into an excavated hole on a weekday morning on High Street, where they were repairing a sewer line for an office building.
Romero, a laborer from Lynn, died of “multiple blunt traumatic injuries,” according to his death certificate. Gutierrez, who lived in Somerville, died from “blunt head trauma,” his death certificate said. Both death certificates were amended on May 20 by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The men were pulled from the hole, directly below the dump truck, by Boston Emergency Medical Services personnel and pronounced dead more than 90 minutes later, according to police.
Romero’s sister, Leslie Villalobos, said a man who was working in the excavated hole described her brother’s final moments to her when they met at his funeral. The worker told her that Gutierrez fell first, followed by Romero, who grabbed onto a ladder in the hole, but couldn’t hang on, she said.
“I thanked him for holding my brother in his last moments,” she said.
Villalobos said she still has many unanswered questions about what happened to her brother.
“Why did this have to happen to us?” she asked. “My brother was a loved, caring person. We loved him so much.”
Romero’s widow, Meladys Figueroa Matias, declined to comment, citing the open investigation.
Gutierrez’s relatives said they have no information about what happened to him.
Several workers for Atlantic Coast Utilities have checkered driving histories.
A state trooper ordered Diaz out of service on Oct. 16, 2017, after finding that he wasn’t licensed to operate the truck and trailer combination he was driving on Interstate 93, records show. The trooper noted that while Diaz had a Class B commercial license, the credential didn’t authorize him to operate a truck hauling a trailer. Atlantic Coast Utilities was fined $1,005 for employing an unlicensed operator, records show.
In February 2020, Diaz received a license to drive combination commercial vehicles, according to RMV records. The only other entry on his driving history is a surchargeable accident from October 2014.
Two other drivers for Atlantic Coast Utilities didn’t hold driver’s licenses in the United States, police records show. One driver presented a state trooper with a license from Guatemala after being stopped in a company truck on June 9, 2018, in Weston. Following that stop, Atlantic Coast Utilities was cited by State Police for employing an unlicensed operator, records show.
A different driver who was stopped in Newton on Jan. 11, 2020, showed an officer a driver’s license from the Dominican Republic, a Newton police report said. Atlantic Coast Utilities was again cited for employing an unlicensed operator. Ultimately, the company was found not responsible in this case, according to Department of Transportation records.
A state trooper placed a fourth driver out of service on Dec. 9, 2020, in Chelsea, where the man was operating a dump truck even though he held a driver’s license only for operating a passenger vehicle, records show.
OSHA has opened health and safety inspections into Atlantic Coast Utilities and Advanced Utilities, another company owned by Moloney, records show.
In 2016 and 2019, OSHA sought to fine Atlantic Coast Utilities for allegedly violating workplace safety rules. Another inspection of the company, in 2020, didn’t result in violations or citations, OHSA records show.
The inspection of Advanced Utilities was opened on March 31 and will determine whether the company complies with industrial hygiene standards, OSHA said. The inspections are pending, an agency spokesman said Wednesday. The website for Atlantic Coast Utilities has been taken down.
In 2008, Moloney pleaded guilty in Boston Municipal Court to criminal charges that he failed to pay workers a prevailing wage and earned overtime that year, when he owned a company called Shannon Construction. He was ordered to pay almost $300,000 in penalties and fines.
The deaths on High Street led to revelations that Moloney failed to disclose to the city that the company had numerous workplace safety violations that could have disqualified it from doing work in Boston. The city requirement took effect after two workers were killed in a 2016 trench collapse on Dartmouth Street in the South End. The affidavit for disclosing that information is named for the two victims, Kelvin Mattocks and Robert Higgins.
Moloney did not disclose his company’s citations by OSHA on licensed contractor affidavits filed in August 2019 and December 2020, records show, and it appears the city did not investigate or check on his claims because the company continued to work in Boston.
The city’s use of affidavits to keep contractors with safety violations out of Boston also had other limitations. After the deaths on High Street, the Globe requested copies of affidavits submitted by contractors who were granted permits to do work at about the same time. The request covered 10 permits obtained by nine companies.
But the records showed only one of those companies submitted an affidavit last year. Seven of the companies, the city said, weren’t required to provide affidavits because they were acting as subcontractors. On Thursday, the city said it had changed that policy to require all subcontractors to submit affidavits.
Andrew Ryan of the Globe staff contributed to this report.