Wrongful death suit filed in death of Buckley man joyriding in excavator

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

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a man who was killed when the excavator he was driving tumbled down a cliff about 25 miles southeast of Tacoma.

The News Tribune reports that 22-year-old Jared Lanphear, of Buckley, died in May 2014.

The suit filed Monday by the mother of his child, Colleen Cunningham, says Lanphear had met a man at a bar who worked for Farwest Portable Crushing Inc. and invited him to the company’s work site in Wilkeson.

The suit says Lanphear began operating one of the company’s excavators when it slid off the cliff and crashed.

Cunningham alleges Farwest Portable Crushing failed to keep the work site safe and control the use of its machinery.

The company didn’t return a request for comment.

“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.

Aeriel Strough, 22, was also killed in the crash.

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