A year has passed since 20-year-old Marlon Diaz died in a trench collapse near Breckenridge. His family is still waiting for closure as A4S Construction fights citations, violations.

The company Diaz worked for was issued more than $400,000 in fines in May but has yet to pay them

Emergency crews are pictured Nov. 16, 2021, at Sallie Barber Road near Breckenridge, where a trench collapse killed 20-year-old Marlon Diaz. The metal structure in the photo is a steel trench box, which is typically used to support the wall of a trench to keep it from caving in. Court records indicate the trench box was not in use at the time of the collapse.
Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District/Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the updated name of Amy G. Injury Firm.

Nov. 16 marked one year since 20-year-old Marlon Diaz was killed in a trench collapse — which also partially buried a second individual — near Breckenridge.

Since then, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that the company Diaz worked for, Vail-based A4S Construction, failed to install trench safety features at its work site. OSHA found that A4S Construction failed to protect its workers on Nov. 16, 2021. 

The company was issued four citations and more than $400,000 in fines earlier this year. But according to an email from OSHA spokesperson Juan Rodríguez, the company is contesting those citations and fines. Rodríguez said there is no time limit on how long this process could take. Beyond that, he said he couldn’t comment on the case any further. 

Summit Daily News reached out to Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum to see whether or not her office could pursue criminal charges against A4S Construction. McCollum declined to answer any general questions on how this process would work and wouldn’t answer any further questions. 

In the meantime, Diaz’s family — most of whom live in Honduras and whose first language is Spanish — is awaiting justice. 

Cloris Díaz, Marlon’s aunt, said she contacted Denver-based Amy G. Injury Firm about a potential lawsuit. She said, through text, that she’s been in recent communication with their lawyer, Gorgy Alhasoon. Cloris Diaz said that Alhasoon’s office was planning to file a lawsuit in the near future. 

Details of the death

On Nov. 16, 2021, the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District arrived at the site of the trench collapse on Sallie Barber Road at 4:14 p.m. When they arrived, the district’s deputy chief of operations, Drew Hoehn, said that a steel box meant to protect workers from a trench collapse was not in use.

At the time, the construction crew was installing a sewer line for a new housing development. One worker dug himself out, fellow crew members dug out a second partially buried worker and Diaz died due to blunt force trauma to the head, neck and torso, records state.

OSHA issued three “willful-serious“ citations to A4S for not ensuring the excavation was inspected by a competent person, failing to perform an inspection of the excavation and not having a trench protective system in place. These violations continued to occur at the same Breckenridge work site after the fatal collapse in November, according to OSHA reports.

OSHA also issued one serious citation for not having a safe means of egress within 25 lateral feet of employees working in the trench. According to the citation, the nearest escape ladder was 90 feet away.

OSHA inspectors also determined A4S continued to expose workers to hazards before and after Diaz’s death. The inspectors found other trench collapses had preceded the fatal one in the months prior, and violations reportedly continued after.

Awaiting closure

As the OSHA citations await an appeal and with little answers from the district attorney’s office, the Diaz family is waiting and wondering about what kind of closure they will get for Marlon’s sudden death. 

“Every 16th of the month, which is the day he passed — it’s very tough on us, especially on my two girls,” Ana Diaz, his aunt, said. “The smallest one has been depressed because they were very close. Her birthday was on Nov. 14, and (Marlon) would always call her. It was tough getting through that day without a call.” 

Marlon’s father said it’s been tough on him, too. 

“It’s been a very difficult year,” he said. “Every 16th (of the month), we go to the cemetery, and it’s very tough. We place flowers. We just can’t seem to understand that he’s not with us anymore. It breaks our heart.”

A4S Construction did not return a request for comment before deadline.

Marlon Diaz moved from Honduras to Houston on Dec. 31, 2020, before moving to Colorado a few days later. Diaz was killed in a trench collapse along Sallie Barber Road near Breckenridge on Nov. 16, 2021. He was 20 years old.
Ana Diaz/Courtesy photo

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