Citations handed down in wall collapse

A San Francisco-based construction company plans to appeal $11,550 in citations from the state after an investigation into the fatal collapse of a 24-foot-high wall.

Fergus O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan Construction said he’s retained an attorney and disagrees with all the violations the state said his company made in connection with the wall’s collapse, which killed one person.

“Basically, we’re appealing all the citations,” O’Sullivan said Sunday. O’Sullivan Construction has until Jan. 17 to correct the alleged violations or appeal the five citations handed down Friday by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

On July 31, just before 3 p.m., the eastern wall of the former El Rancho Market on Geneva Avenue fell over onto Rio Verde Street, instantly killing Union City resident Gregoria Custodio, who was sitting inside her car. Custodio had pulled over next to the wall to consult a map after visiting a friend in the area.

Crews were in the process of demolishing the building to build a 15,000-square-foot mixed-use development at 2665 Geneva Ave.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that “[t]he employer allowed a section of wall approximately 125 feet long and 24 feet high to stand without lateral bracing sufficient to support the structure,” according to one citation handed down.

Continued inspections of the site to detect hazards were not performed as demolition went on, and O’Sullivan’s qualified inspector for the job site was not present before the collapse, OSHA alleged in another citation.

Other alleged violations include failing to have a qualified person observing demolition work at all times, failure to have a survey of the existing condition of the structure being demolished and failing to have that survey on-site.

Representatives from Cal/OSHA were unavailable for comment Sunday. Officials from that agency have previously said that O’Sullivan had only one previous complaint against it, a 2003 incident that resulted in a $50 fine. The State Contractors Licensing Board said after the wall collapse that O’Sullivan had a clean record.

Daly City officials and the site’s neighbors said at the time that the area was typically windy and was even more so than usual on that day. Use of the sidewalk had been prohibited along the affected stretch of Rio Verde during demolition, but parking was allowed.

Neighbors interviewed at the time of the collapse told The Examiner they felt concerned enough over the potential collapse of the wall that they took precautions and moved their cars away from that side of the street anyway.

dsmith@examiner.com

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