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Deadly, on-the-job accident raises questions about safety conditions of county project

Deadly, on-the-job accident raises questions about safety conditions of county project

CREATED Mar 28, 2012

Reporter: Claire Doan

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – A family is still grieving the loss of their loved one after an on-the-job accident killed him over the weekend. It happened Saturday on Tucson’s east side, but days later there are still unanswered questions around the death of 44-year-old Danny Lee Murphy.

Dawn Barkman, spokesperson for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, told 9 On Your Side that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will investigate. However, Jessie Astencio, Assistant Director of Tucson’s OSHA office said the PCSD is handling the investigation.

Was the accident Murphy’s fault – or were working conditions unsafe?

It happened at the Pantano Wash, near Grant Road, where Danny Murphy’s semi-truck rolled over. His family was told it was his fault, but family members tell KGUN9 News Murphy -- who had 2 decades of experience driving trucks -- had complained for a while about unsafe conditions at the site.

“I’m shocked, not expecting my dad to pass – on the job, actually,” said Murphy’s son Cody. “He was always saying that the truck is going to go over one of these times. He was always too close to the edge and nothing was set up right.”

“There was go guardrail there. He said if the truck or the dirt shifts – or the dirt underneath gives way – I have nowhere to go but straight down,” said Glenda Depew, Murphy's mother-in-law.

Investigators said Murphy was working on a county project to reinforce the walls of the wash but somehow lost control and rolled over. The family was told he was on his cell phone, which Cody insists is not true. He said a Murphy's friend had Cody’s phone, and blames those at the construction site.

“Everybody is saying it’s his fault. I don’t’ think it’s his fault. I think it was the people at the job site. It was their fault because the way they had set it up,” Cody said.

So KGUN9 News tracked down the company Murphy worked for: Harvey Trucking, Inc, by talking to a manager on the phone and visiting their office. The company refused to grant an interview, but did mention that they are mourning Murphy’s passing and it is the first death they’ve had in 37 years. OSHA’s site shows no safety or health violations by the company.

It is unclear whether Murphy expressed his concerns about the conditions to his employer.

In the meantime, as the family awaits answers from the investigation, they can’t forget what Murphy said the night before he died.

“He says to me last night, you know, I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow, but I really need the money so I’m going,” DePew recalled.

KGUN9 News is still waiting on more information from Pima County, the agency in charge of the construction project.

Murphy leaves behind four children, three of whom are under the age of 18.

If you would like to donate, an account has been set up at Wells Fargo under the Danny Murphy memorial fund.