South Carolina

The young Ridgeland man’s death was preventable. Now his company will pay

Marcos Garcia Servin
Marcos Garcia Servin The Island Funeral Home

A Hilton Head Island landscaping company has been cited for workplace violations after an employee was crushed by a palm tree last year.

Ocean Woods Landscaping was ordered this month to pay $3,850 in penalties from the S.C. Dept. of Labor, Licensing and Regulation for serious violations that contributed to the death of 20-year-old Marcos Garcia Servin of Ridgeland on Nov. 19, 2015.

Garcia was unloading palm trees from a flatbed truck at a South Forest Beach Drive resort when they shifted unexpectedly, sending the worker falling from the truck. A tree landed on top of Garcia Servin, who died at a local hospital.

The state’s Office of Occupational Safety and Health inspected the business and issued two “serious” citations May 11, according to records released Tuesday by spokeswoman Lesia Kudelka.

The business reportedly failed to provide a workplace free of hazards that could cause death or serious physical injury.

The 1997 Freightliner tractor-trailer that was carrying its palm trees was missing support fixtures — such as portable posts or wedges — to secure its load, inspectors found. Ocean Woods also should have known the trees could move unexpectedly and potentially injure an employee.

The landscaper also failed to replace one of its rigging materials — a synthetic web sling — that had snags, tears and cuts. That tool was used to remove the palm trees from the trailer and should have been removed as soon as it showed signs of wear or damage.

The business, which has served the Lowcountry for more than 40 years, has since corrected both of those problems, according to the citations.

Ocean Woods’ owners did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Kudelka said they have held an informal conference with the Office of Occupational Safety and Health, but the office has not decided whether to reach a settlement regarding the citation or penalties.

The business also has until June 16, 30 days from its receipt of the citations, to request a formal hearing to contest the charges.

In late 2015, an Ocean Woods driver was also cited for “operating a vehicle with loads that drop, sift, leak, etc.,” according to Beaufort County court records. A Bluffton woman sued the company in connection with the incident, stating in her complaint that she was driving behind one of the landscapers on S.C. 170 on Oct. 27, 2014 when equipment fell from the back of his flatbed truck and into her path.

When she was forced to strike the equipment, she suffered serious injuries, the lawsuit states. The plaintiff requested the suit be dismissed in April, though it was still pending Tuesday.

Rebecca Lurye: 843-706-8155, @IPBG_Rebecca