State cites county for safety violations

LAS VEGAS - Clark County failed to take appropriate safety measures before an accident that killed six members of a teen-age work crew on Interstate 15, a state agency ruled Thursday.

The state Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement Section issued three citations, citing two ''serious'' violations, and imposing a fine of $3,150.

Peggy Leen, deputy Clark County district attorney, said her office would meet with OSHES officials to discuss the citations and decide whether to contest them.

''The county takes these matters very seriously,'' Leen said. ''We want to make sure we understand what the problems are, and make sure these workers have a safe environment.''

Six teens were killed and a seventh injured March 19 when a minivan drove off the interstate and slammed into a work crew picking up trash on the highway median. The teens were working in a county Family and Youth Services Department program that allows juvenile offenders to work off fines for misdemeanor offenses.

One citation alleges the county ''failed to ensure that effective temporary traffic control protective measures were taken to protect employees and other personnel performing litter pick-up duties alongside an Interstate highway with high speed, high volume traffic.''

A second violation, also deemed serious, said the county failed to ensure that workers wore ''bright, highly visible clothing'' while working within a few feet of the highway.

The county agency also was cited for failing to verify that employees assigned to the work crew had received training regarding litter pick-up operations working adjacent to streets and highways.

The citations were issued by Jimmie Garrett, safety manager for OSHES, which oversees workplace safety in the state.

The teens were killed when a minivan driven by Jessica Williams, a 21-year-old stripper, veered off I-15. Williams is being held on charges of driving under the influence. Her attorney claims she fell asleep at the wheel.

The program of teens picking up trash along busy highways was put on hold after the accident. Instead, the youngsters pick up trash in parks, vacant lots and desert areas. The county said it would announce this week whether the program would continue.

The county is facing potential lawsuits from parents of the children who were killed.

Five teen-agers - Scott Garner Jr., Alberto Puig, Anthony Smith, Rebeccah Glicken and Malina Stoltzfus - died at the scene. A sixth, Jennifer Booth, died the next day.


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