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Criminal charge filed against Everett company over employee’s death in augur accident

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SEATTLE -- The King County Prosecutor’s Office  filed a criminal charge Friday against an Everett company, Pacific Topsoils, in connection with serious workplace safety violations that led to the death of an employee in 2014.

The prosecutor's office said Pacific Topsoils is charged with Violation of Labor Safety Regulation with Death Resulting, which is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000.

Pacific Topsoils’ employee, 19-year-old Bradley Hogue, was killed by a rotating auger while working inside the hopper of a bark blowing truck at a home in Duvall on July 7, 2014.

His parents say it was only his second day on the job, and he hadn’t been properly trained how to use their bark blowing truck.

“Some management somewhere should have said let's get a safety harness,” says Alan Hogue.

They say their son isn’t the only worker the company put at risk.

“Many kids were very scared and did come forward,” says Deanna Hogue. “That's what made the prosecutor decide to press charges.”

Pursuing a criminal case against a company is rare. The State Department of Labor and Industries hasn’t done it in more than 20 years.

“This case showed deliberate disregard for the safety of the workers,” says Tim Church. “This young man should have never been where he was at, and it cost him his life.”

Pacific Topsoils put out a statement today saying since the accident, “We have worked closely with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and outside safety consultants to improve practices, safety, training and equipment.”

The Hogues say that’s not enough.

“Somebody, somewhere has to be held accountable,” says Alan.

They hope that’s what all companies in Washington will learn from this criminal case.

“It's sad that it’s our child setting an example out there,” says Deanna, “so that other families do not have to go through what we have.”

Arraignment is set for June 27.