A construction company has been fined $156,259 following the incident, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
A 16-year-old boy in Washington lost both of his legs after a horrific incident this summer, officials announced Wednesday.
The teen was sent by Rotschy LLC to operate a "walk-behind trencher on a job site in La Center to dig a channel for fence posts," the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries said in a statement.
That's when officials said he was "dragged underneath the blade," leading to injuries "so severe" they required both legs to be amputated.
The boy, who has not been publicly identified, "was participating in a work-based learning program that allows students to earn credit and gain experience working outside the classroom" at the time of the incident, according to the agency.
The construction company had "a student learner exemption permitting minors to do some work that is otherwise prohibited, but use of the walk-behind trencher was not part of the exemption," officials said, noting that the state's youth employment laws identify prohibited duties for workers under the age of 18.
“This tragedy should never have happened, and this young man’s life will never be the same,” said Craig Blackwood, assistant director for the department’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “Employers with young workers should look after our children as they would their own. When they fail to keep a young worker safe, it’s a violation of the community’s trust.”
The department has ordered the company to stop work and halted its student-learner exemption. They're also facing the maximum fine available at $156,259 "for allowing employees to operate equipment without appropriate training or experience."
"The violation is considered 'willful' because the company knew or should have known the requirements, but still failed to meet them," the agency added. "It’s also classified as 'serious' because the issues could, and in this case did, lead to serious injury or death."
Rotschy LLC and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.
In a statement to Inside Edition, the company said they were "deeply saddened by the incident involving one of our minor workers who suffered a tragic injury on our job site."
"As a family-owned company with a strong safety record, this has been a distressing moment for us," their statement added. "Safety has always been our top priority. We are committed to learning from this and strengthening our safety measures to ensure such incidents never happen again."
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Rotschy LLC went on to add that the boy has returned to work in an office role, "using the skills obtained in the field to assist a project manager in project duties."
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