September 30, 2020

Associated Press withdraws article on deadly trench collapse due to factual error

The Associated Press has withdrawn its story published May 26, 2020, about two workers employed by Southern Civil Contracting who were killed in a trench collapse.

The Associated Press erroneously reported that Southern’s owner, Shane Henderson, had been president of another company when that second company was issued 27 citations for federal safety violations between 2005 and 2008.

In addition, because of the wording of the headline and first sentence of the story, readers may have construed the article as asserting that those 27 citations were related to Henderson personally, rather than to the now-defunct company, Gilco Contracting, where he then worked.

According to an attorney for Henderson, he was not in a leadership position at Gilco at the time of the violations cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, was not involved in any of the projects cited by OSHA and was not involved with OSHA’s investigations.

The original AP story was based in part on a newspaper account that misstated Henderson’s position at the company and that has since been corrected.

The Associated Press has withdrawn the story and regrets the errors. No replacement story is planned.