A wrongful death lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of a man killed when the excavator in which he was joyriding plummeted down a Wilkeson cliff.
Jared Lanphear, 22, of Buckley, died May 29, 2014, after a man he met at a bar invited him to operate the excavator at a work site where crews had been living while excavating and clearing a roadway.
The lawsuit was filed Monday by Colleen Cunningham, the mother of Lanphear’s toddler son, as the representative of Lanphear’s estate and on behalf of the child.
Named as defendants in the suit are Oregon-based Farwest Portable Crushing Inc. and its employee, Steven Dale Gregory.
According to the suit:
Gregory spent the evening drinking at a nearby bar, where he met Lanphear and invited him to drive the company’s excavator.
He allegedly turned on the excavator and encouraged Lanphear to operate it.
It was dark and the machine slid off the cliff and crashed. A tree stump severed Lanphear’s legs, leading him to bleed to death.
Also killed in the crash was Aeriel Strough, 22, who had been with Lanphear at the bar. Gregory suffered serious injuries.
The suit alleges the company failed to keep the work site safe and to control access to and use of the machinery.
The company did not respond this week to a request for comment.