SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — The owner of a granite company in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood was sentenced today to one year of home detention and three years’ probation in the 2014 deaths of two workers who were crushed by falling slabs of granite.
Meng Peng, a Hillsborough resident, was sentenced after pleading guilty in January to two felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and three labor code violations in connection with the deaths of two of his employees on Feb. 17, 2014.
Philip Marich, 53, of South San Francisco, and Hector Vazquez, 46, of Oakland, were removing large slabs of granite from a shipping container at Galaxy Granite at 1525 Cortland Ave. when slabs fell on them around 10:15 a.m.
Both men were extricated from the shipping container, but Marich was pronounced dead at the scene and Vazquez later died at San Francisco General Hospital.
Defense attorney Brian Getz said his client felt remorse and regret that he will “carry with him for the rest of his life.”
“He genuinely is remorseful and accepts responsibility for what he did,” Getz said. “He would do anything to undo what he did.”
Peng, who listened to proceedings in court with a bowed head, said through a Mandarin interpreter, “I feel terrible about everything that happened.”
Assistant District Attorney Greg Alker urged Judge Charles Crompton to give a higher sentence of two years in prison, noting that while Peng was now remorseful, he had initially denied involvement or awareness.
A later investigation determined that Peng was aware of safety issues and had failed to enforce precautions such as the use of an A-frame to support the metal slabs inside the shipping container, Alker said.
“I understand that he is now remorseful and wants this situation to move forward, but I ask the court to consider not just what would be best for Mr. Peng but for San Francisco and the community,” Alker said.
Crompton chose to sentence Peng to one year of jail, which can be served as home detention, and three years of probation to run concurrently, as well as community service and compensation to the victims.
He noted that Peng had no previous criminal record and had already paid some compensation to the victims’ families.
Outside of court, Alker described the sentence as “a little light” but said he appreciated that the judge had included jail time.
“Hopefully we’re sending a message to all the construction companies that they have to do things safely and comply with OSHA regulations,” Alker said.