Investigation into death finds child-labor violation

LYNNWOOD — Pull A Part Auto wrecking yard in Lynnwood violated child labor laws by allowing a 16-year-old boy to work near a steel gantry crane that fell and killed him, according to the state Department of Labor and Industries.

Josh McMahon was too young to work near the 9-foot-tall crane, Labor and Industries reported last week. Investigators found that the business failed to ensure that McMahon and other young employees stayed away from the crane, which toppled on Aug. 13.

Labor and Industries ordered the business, owned by Ferrill’s Auto Parts, to provide more training for teenage workers. The business was not fined, and no health or safety violations were issued.

"We believe it was just a horrible, tragic, isolated incident," Labor and Industries spokeswoman Elaine Fischer said.

Employees at Pull A Part, 18306 Highway 99, did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

McMahon was killed after he tried to help move the crane, investigators found. The teen had stopped to chat with a customer who had used the crane to lift a Ford V8 engine and transmission weighing 800 to 1,000 pounds, witnesses said.

When the customer tried to move the loaded crane, it got stuck on a car bumper and some rocks, according to a Labor and Industries report.

McMahon helped the customer pull the crane free, then started to walk away, the report says.

The customer was pushing the crane when it gained momentum and started tipping, the report says. He yelled to warn McMahon, but the boy couldn’t get out of the way. The crane struck him in the head, and he died at the scene.

McMahon started work at Pull A Part on June 25, his 16th birthday. It was his first job.

"I didn’t even think about the safety of cranes or all the possibilities of things that could have hurt him" when he took the job, said his mother, Connie McMahon, who is still concerned about the crane’s use.

"It’s been very hard without him," she said.

McMahon planned to start classes at Lake Washington Vocational Technical College and wanted to become a mechanic. He loved cars and dreamed of owning a hot-rod shop.

The violation issued after McMahon’s death wasn’t the first the wrecking yard had received. It has been fined several times in the past for violating federal safety and health regulations, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration records.

Fischer said state records show that since 1997, 20 violations have been issued to the company, which has auto wrecking yards in Lynnwood, Everett and Pierce County.

Nine of the violations are considered serious, she said, such as one issued in May 2000 for the structural integrity of the vehicle racks employees were working beneath. The other 11 were for general violations such as not having proper first-aid kits.

Reporter Katherine Schiffner: 425-339-3436 or

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