Golf course fined over fatal lawn-mower accident

TULALIP — The Battle Creek Golf Course has been assessed a $3,000 penalty for safety issues after a worker died in a lawn-mower accident in March.

The golf course is appealing the finding, according to the state Department of Labor and Industries.

James “Jim” Pulliam, 58, died March 14 when the riding lawn mower he was using flipped over on top of him. He was a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America and was on the grounds crew.

The accident happened near the 13th hole, according to a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office report. Pulliam’s coworkers last saw him about 11:30 a.m. when he was headed to cut tall grass outside the fairways. His body was found just after 1 p.m.

There were no witnesses, so the exact cause of the accident is not certain, deputies wrote.

They believe that Pulliam was traveling downhill when the front right tire hit a rock wall, causing the mower to spin and roll over.

L&I also investigated, a standard practice after a workplace fatality.

The course did not provide sufficient training for workers using heavy equipment, according to an L&I report. That was considered a serious violation, with a $1,800 penalty. Employees also needed more training on how to report problems with equipment.

In addition, the course had no written accident prevention program for grounds maintenance equipment, according to the report. That also was considered a serious violation and carried a $1,200 penalty.

A third, lesser violation was for not having a safety committee.

In August, the agency ordered the golf course to address those shortcomings.

The golf course has asked the state to suspend the order to make changes until after the appeal, an L&I spokesman said. A regional hearing officer is expected to decide the case by early October.

The golf director did not return calls from The Herald for this story.

An obituary in the newspaper described Pulliam as a devoted family man who loved golf and baseball. He attended Snohomish High School and Everett Community College and served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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