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Ex-water company president convicted in workers deaths

June 29, 2006
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The former president of an Arizona-based water and sewer company was convicted earlier this month on four of five counts against him stemming from an October 2001 sewer accident that claimed the lives of two workers and injured a third, according to the Yuma Sun.

A Yuma County jury found Brent Weidman guilty on two counts of negligent homicide and two counts of endangerment in the deaths of 26-year-old James Gamble and 62-year-old Gary Lanser, who died after being overcome by toxic gases while working on an underground sewage tank near a golf course in Yuma nearly five years ago.

Weidman was acquitted of a charge of aggravated assault for another worker, Nathan Garret, who survived the incident but suffered lung damage.

Sentencing for Weidman is set for June 29.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office, which prosecuted the case, contended the accident stemmed from lack of safety equipment and lack of safety training for employees. The defense contended the workers were properly equipped and trained.

“My son died because he (Weidman) didn’t care about safety precautions,” Gamble’s mother, Carol Borieo, told the Yuma Sun.

Far West, of which Weidman was president during the time of the accident, was found guilty in October of negligent homicide; violating a safety standard causing the death of an employee, Gamble; and one count of endangerment and one count of aggravated assault.

The water and sewer company also was fined $1.7 million, ordered to pay more than $150,000 in restitution to the victims' survivors, sentenced to seven years of probation and ordered to implement a safety program.

Santec, a Far West subcontractor for which Lanser worked, was found guilty of causing his death and was sentenced last year to 24 months of supervised probation and $30,000 in restitution.

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