Friday, October 18, 2013

Inmate's death marks second fatality in DNR prison work program

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 2:02 PM

After suffering a citation and fines over safety issues last fall, the state Department of Natural Resources has confirmed a second DNR work crew inmate from the Airway Heights Corrections Center has died while working in the woods of Stevens County — almost exactly one year after the program's first fatality.

click to enlarge Daniel Hall - DOC
  • DOC
  • Daniel Hall
Officials say 47-year-old Daniel J. Hall died Thursday afternoon while working to clear DNR-owned land south of Springdale following a recent timber harvest. Peter Lavallee, communications director for DNR, says several agencies are investigating the fatal incident. 

"We're looking into exactly what happened," Lavallee says. "The crew was working on an area where there had been a timber harvest and sale. ... The crew was preparing the land for an eventual replanting."

Prison officials say Hall was serving a sentence on drug and auto theft charges with his release scheduled for September of next year. He becomes the second Washington inmate to suffer a fatal injury in the history of the state's prison work crew program.

Another Airway Heights inmate, 22-year-old Danny Bergeson of Sedro-Wooley, was the first to be killed on Oct. 15, 2012. Described as a hard-working car enthusiast, Bergeson was also working on a DNR crew in Stevens County when a tree he was cutting down hit a power line and electrocuted him.

Officials with the state Department of Labor & Industries later cited the DNR with failing to provide proper supervision and training for workers. The DNR paid a $25,100 fine.  Read full citation here:  DNR2012DeathCitation.pdf

In the wake of Bergeson's death, DNR officials temporarily closed the program and pledged to review their safety protocols. They later restarted the work crew program with a new emphasis on injury prevention and new requirements to discuss safety hazards before every project.

Lavallee says there has not been any move to again suspend the inmate work crew program at this point. He could not comment on the safety protocols surrounding Hall's death. 

Officials have released few details on the circumstances involved in Hall's death. The incident remains under investigation. 

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