Trench Tragedy: Gov. Baker Weighs in After necn Investigation

He said recommendations need to be made to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again

The allegations in the Boston Police report are startling - that drug team officers were “…aware that numerous employees of Atlantic Drain Service are chronic drug users” saying they had witnessed employees purchasing “…illegal narcotics in the past.” And they had received intel that an employee “….was selling and using illegal narcotics out of the Atlantic Drain yard and an Atlantic Drain dump truck.”

Boston Police arrested that employee – Dominick Revell – in September and when we dug deeper we found he has a lengthy criminal record littered with drug convictions and four OUIs – several of the arrests made when he was driving Atlantic Drain trucks.

According to court documents, his jobs at Atlantic Drain have ranged from back hoe operator to foreman – though the 45-year-old Franklin man does not have a commercial driver’s license and his regular license has been suspended or revoked nearly two dozen times.

We asked Atlantic Drain owner Kevin Otto if he was turning a blind eye.

We asked him, “Can you tell us why you let Dominick Revell keep driving your vehicles even after the OUIs and drug charges?”

On the day of his arrest, Revelle was driving an Atlantic Drain dump truck and his brother Joseph was the passenger. According to the report, Joseph had three bags of crack in his sock telling officers he had “…purchased the crack cocaine earlier in the day from someone in the Atlantic Drain yard.”

Police have been called to Atlantic Drain for drug-related issues multiple times in recent years, according to police reports obtained by necn Investigates.

Last summer, a recently-fired employee and a female companion were found after allegedly overdosing on heroin,” "unresponsive, lips purple, barely breathing." Less than 12 hours later a different person was found dead inside the company – no cause of death was released, but police did not investigate further.

Asked what he thought of the drug allegations, Martin Hewitt said of the company’s owner, “He doesn't care. He just doesn't care. He goes home at night and he sleeps knowing that that's the type of people he has working for them.” 

Hewitt is the uncle of Robbie Higgins, who was killed along with fellow Atlantic Drain employee Kelvin Mattocks, in last month’s horrifying trench collapse. Hearing about the drug abuse allegations, Hewitt worries safety is not the company’s top priority.

“This wouldn't of happened,” he said. “Robbie would be here today. Because they would've taken more care.”

What happened in the trench collapse is under investigation, but the accident revealed Atlantic Drain's history of what OSHA called serious and willful safety violations. And a disjointed process of city permitting – leaving many unanswered questions as to who – if anyone -- is responsible to investigate the safety records of private companies.

Some lawmakers have pushed to have drain companies licensed and regulated by the state - just like electricians or hair stylists.

necn Investigates put the issue to Governor Charlie Baker.

Baker said, “That's exactly what I'm hoping comes out of the investigation, which is recommendations on what we can do to deal with this issue and make sure it doesn't happen again.”

Hewitt was more impassioned.

“Make an example out of him,” he said. “That says this is what happens in the state of Massachusetts when you don't follow the rules.”

We reached out to Atlantic Drain through the company’s attorney. He told us he is focused on the trench accident and would send us a statement from Otto, the company's owner.

necn will post the statement when we receive it.

As for Dominick and Joseph Revell, Dominick is behind bars awaiting trial for his fourth OUI charge. Joseph will be summonsed to court on the drug charges.

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