By Larry Barszewski
A construction accident that killed a worker during a home demolition Nov. 9 on Lewis Cove was still under active investigation by Delray Beach police late in the month.
In a report released Nov. 30, police identified the victim as Eric Edward Guthrie, 56, of Loxahatchee. Guthrie is listed as owner of Guthrie Hauling Co. of Loxahatchee on the company’s website.
Around 8:50 a.m., an excavator being used to move debris with its claw teetered over and fell onto the cab of Guthrie’s nearby grappler dump truck, where Guthrie was operating the grappler’s controls from behind the cab, according to the police report. Guthrie was pinned unconscious under the claw arm with severe trauma visible to his right thigh, police said.
Guthrie was taken to Delray Medical Center, where he died. The medical examiner determined Guthrie died of “multiple blunt force injuries” and ruled the manner of death an accident, the police report said.
Police identified the excavator’s operator as William James Malkemes, 63, of Delray Beach. Both Guthrie and Malkemes had been subcontracted to remove debris from 1041 Lewis Cove, on the west side of State Road A1A a couple of blocks north of Atlantic Dunes Park. The property sold for $2 million in March.
Malkemes, president of Tip Top Tree Service in Delray Beach, told police he drove the Case excavator up the pile of demolition debris and he was using the excavator bucket to pick up debris when he felt the excavator shift, off-balance.
“As a result, Malkemes drove in reverse then forward in an attempt to regain equilibrium,” the police report said. “As Malkemes drove forward, the excavator lost balance and fell onto the grappler operation platform where Guthrie was sitting. Guthrie fell off the platform and onto the ground along the passenger side of the cabin.
“The excavator landed upside down with the arm on top of Guthrie and the bucket resting on top of the crushed cabin and platform of the truck.”
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating. An OSHA official said the office had no additional information to release. Investigators have six months to file a report, the official said.
The general contractor for the construction work being done was Matthew Wolf, police said.