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Foreman gets probation in Nacimiento pipeline deaths 

More than four years after the accident, a Teichert Construction foreman was sentenced for involuntary manslaughter in the drowning deaths of two men working on the Nacimiento pipeline.

click to enlarge CLOSURE? :  An excavator digs part of a trench near the location where two Teichert Construction employees drowned in 2008 while working on the Nacimiento Pipeline project. The foreman on duty the day they men died was recently sentenced to probation for involuntary manslaughter. - FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • CLOSURE? : An excavator digs part of a trench near the location where two Teichert Construction employees drowned in 2008 while working on the Nacimiento Pipeline project. The foreman on duty the day they men died was recently sentenced to probation for involuntary manslaughter.

Henry “Hank” Duggins was sentenced April 5 in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court by Presiding Judge Barry LaBarbera to three years felony probation, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The former foreman pleaded no contest in February.

The sentence carries with it 1,000 hours of community service, and Duggins is also required to formally report to a probation officer.

Duggins is the only Teichert employee to face charges in the October 2008 work-related deaths of Jake Gaines, 24, of Bakersfield, and Manuel Villagomez, 38, of Elk Grove. Both men drowned when the segment of pipeline they were working in to remove internal support struts filled with water after an excavator ruptured a nearby waterline, filling the 10-foot deep trench they were in with water.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Niblick and South River roads in Paso Robles.

Prosecutors alleged Duggins was negligent in allowing the excavation to take place while the workers were inside the pipe. Investigation documents at the time indicated there was confusion as to whether there were utility lines, and Duggins may have been reading a map upside down when he instructed the excavator operator to continue working.

The pipeline is designed to bring millions of gallons of drinking water to the county from Lake Nacimiento.

Gaines and Villagomez are two of three people who died while working during the pipeline’s construction. Timothy Nelson, 29, of Ojai, was killed in August 2009 when he was struck by a dump truck while working on the Camp Roberts section of the project.

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