UPDATE: 2 killed, 1 hurt in excavator joyride in Pierce County

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The couple who died were on an excavator like this one in Pierce County.

WILKESON, Wash. — Two people in their early 20s died and a construction worker was injured Thursday night when, after drinks at a local bar, they decided to go on a joyride on an excavator and it went over a cliff at a remote logging site.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said it began at a local bar Thursday night — a 35-year-old construction worker who works at a nearby  site was drinking with a couple, 22-year-old Jared Lanphear of Buckley and 22-year-old Aeriel Strough, and they decided to drive up to a remote logging site and take an excavator for a ride.

The excavator went over a cliff. The worker survived.

“It’s basically a joyride that went terribly wrong. They went over a steep embankment and the cab separated from the machinery and it rolled over the top of them (the couple) … so they were killed instantly,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

The worker drove back down to the closest house, knocked on the door and called 911, Troyer said.

“This is just really tragic for these 22-year-olds who probably thought they were going with someone who knew what they were doing,” Troyer said. “You have alcohol involved and heavy machinery, it’s a bad combination.”

The worker may face charges.

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  • Guest Speaker

    This is absolutely Negligent Homicide!

    There is no reason for the prosecutor to drop the ball convicting on this crime commited by a stupid idiot.

    Negligent Homicide Law & Legal Definition

    Negligent homicide is the killing of another person through gross negligence or without malice. It often includes death that is the result of the negligent operation of a motor vehicle, which includes the operation of a boat or snowmobile. It is characterized as a death caused by death by conduct that grossly deviated from ordinary care. Negligent homicide may be charged as a lesser-included offense of manslaughter. It is also sometimes referred to as "involuntary manslaughter". State laws vary, so local law should be consulted for specific requirements.

    The following is an example of a state statute dealing with negligent homicide:

    "(a) (1) A person commits negligent homicide if he or she negligently causes the death of another person, not constituting murder or manslaughter, as a result of operating a vehicle, an aircraft, or a watercraft:

    (A) While intoxicated; or

    (B) If at that time there is an alcohol concentration of eight-hundredths (0.08) or more in the person’s breath or blood…as determined by a chemical test of the person’s blood, urine, breath, or other bodily substance.

    (2) A person who violates subdivision (a) (1) of this section is guilty of a Class C felony.

    (b) (1) A person who commits negligent homicide if he or she negligently causes the death of another person. A person who violates subdivision (b) (1) of this section is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor."

  • Joe Camel

    Hmm, what about neglect of common sense, did they not of their own accord go for a ride on construction equipment that seats one in the middle of the night drunk? How can this worker be guilty of neglected homicide? The deceased were negligent of common sense or they would of never boarded that vehicle with a drunken idiot! He did not cause their death, there lack of common sense caused their death. The negligence began with the lack of wisdom in the two passengers accepting such a ride. If a hitch hiker accepts a ride from a drunk on the road and gets in the car and end up dead in a crash, the hitch hiker failed to execute good judgement and put themselves into that situation. If a hitch hiker is on the side of the road with his thumb out and gets hit by a drunk drive that is negligent homicide.

    These two co-conspired in their own demise making them Darwin Award Candidates if they have not propagated their own seed yet.

  • hydro

    RIP , I will not lower myself and blame or judge anyone's actions here… the loss of these two young folks is sad and my heart goes out to friends and family… VERY HEART WRENCHING

    • Alaska

      Thank you so much for being one of the few to offer condolences without saying this was 'natural selection' or something along those lines. Jared was like my brother, and it means a lot that you aren't as judgemental as most everyone else. I know his family appreciates it, and I'm sure Aeriel's does as well.

  • Joe Camel


    There is no lowering of oneself to conclude sound judgement was not made by all parties involved, if sound judgement had been acted upon this tragedy would not of happened. If you see your child running into a street and you judge their action is dangerous to them are you going to stand by and not "lower yourself" to raise your voice and warn your child or the impending danger awaiting for them if they do not cease from the actions they are taking. So what difference in retrospect is it to say sound judgement obviously was not used and let to this tragedy the did not have to occur?

  • Norine

    They should wait for the conclusion of the investigation. While they all had been drinking, it has not yet been determined if equipment failure could have been the cause; such as brake failure or something else. The article also does not state the level of intoxication. Maybe one beer was drank. A person shouldn't judge without knowing ALL the facts. Maybe the operator let one of them try out the controls and they drove off the embankment?

    Either way………poor judgement by all three people is apparent and unfortunately cost two young people their lives. How many bad decisions did you make at their age…..guess we were lucky. Condolences to their families and friends.

    • Alaska

      The operator was the only one driving, Jared and Aeriel were just along for the ride. It actually started with Jared trying to figure out where the operator was camping (He lives four hours away and was camping near his job). Jared knew the area really well, but couldn't think of where the man meant, so they went. The man offered to give them a short ride in the excavator, and Jared and Aeriel figured it was safe enough, the man was certified, after all.

      (Jared was like my big brother and I got the story from his girlfriend who is /not/ Aeriel. Jared and Aeriel were just friends, all these news stations have their facts wrong. It's infuriating.)