UPDATED: OSHA investigating fatal employee accident at Southeastern Freight Lines

Northeastern Freight Ax
Cole Kugler, 19, died at his workplace in North Augusta Wednesday night after being crushed by a tractor trailer. (WRDW-TV / April 12, 2012)
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- A work-related accident that caused the death of a 19-year-old employee at Southeastern Freight Lines is now under investigation by OSHA.

Aiken County coroner Tim Carlton confirmed that Cole Kugler of North Augusta died of multiple body trauma. He was pronounced dead at the scene on Wednesday night.

Deputies say when they arrived to the scene on the 1000 block of Edgefield Road, they found Kugler with grease on both of his arms and on the front of his shirt. He also had a large head laceration.

Once there, a worker explained to deputies how the accident unfolded. He said he and Kugler were hooking two trailers together so they could be hauled to another city. The other worker made the tragic error of backing up the trailer, pinning Kugler between the truck and a dolly. Kugler's co-worker said that he checked his mirror and did not see him, so he backed up. When he got out of his vehicle, he said he found Kugler on the dolly.

News 12 has spoken with the company's corporate office. They confirm an internal investigation is underway as well as a separate investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA investigations typically take anywhere between six to eight weeks. They will be looking for any violations that could have contributed to the accident.

The company was open for business at the North Augusta location on Thursday. Managers tell News 12 they do not wish to comment about the accident.

It is unclear if the 19 and 20-year-old men involved had appropriate training and licenses for operating the truck and machinery involved in the accident. Neither SEFL officials have not yet returned our calls asking about this documentation.

According to Southeastern Freight Lines, the company hauls materials all over the country. They've been in business 60 years and operate with a motto of providing "Quality Without Question."