I-Team uncovers employer in deadly Hillsborough accident

Thursday, December 29, 2016
I-Team investigates forces behind ill-fated Hillsborough construction scene
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Alejandro Suarez was working for an Apex-based contractor.

HILLSBOROUGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Alejandro Suarez didn't hire himself. The I-Team, however, worked hard to find out who did.

Hillsborough Police on Thursday confirmed that Suarez, 28, the undocumented worker whose alleged negligence led to the death of 5-year-old Everett Copeland, was hired by Apex-based Kala Contractors, Inc.

Kala, in turn, was hired by Amward Homes, Inc., a home design company who purchased the parcel from real estate giant Crescent Communities.

"Crescent Communities is saddened by the Dec. 26, 2016, accident at the Forest Ridge community in Hillsborough," spokesman Tony Wilbert told ABC11. "We are working to better understand the exact circumstances and companies working on the home site when the tragic events unfolded. We continue to keep the boy's family and friends in our thoughts and offer our strongest condolences to them."

Wilbert went on to say that Crescent follows local, state and federal laws in regards to their business. They also claim to work "diligently" when selecting companies - such as Amward Homes - to develop real estate.

"We expect the homebuilders in our communities to do the same, including ensuring that their contractors and subcontractors follow all applicable laws and rules. If we discover this not to be true, we will re-evaluate our relationship with those companies," the spokesman said.

The construction truck came loose and rolled down a hill

Wilbert added that Crescent has ordered all construction halted to honor the family and the investigation.

"Crescent cannot express strongly enough our sympathies for the child's family and friends."

Amward Homes, based in Cary, is a home-building company with projects across the Triangle. State records showed the managers are Anthony and Michael Ward, whose family also operates Wardson Construction. The I-Team left several messages.

Kala Contractors, which records show a principal manager of Carrie Ward, had its license suspended, according to the NC Secretary of State's office.

Still, Kala was mentioned to the ABC11 I-Team by both Hillsborough PD and the US Department of Labor as being the hiring managers of Suarez.

Agents from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration tell ABC11 they are beginning an investigation into Kala and its practices, including training, communication, equipment and health and safety programs.

William Everett Copeland

According to police documents, Suarez told officers his manager was Gary Ward. The ABC11 I-Team called Ward several times and then visited his home. No answer.

The revelations come three days after the tragic accident in Hillsborough's Forest Ridge neighborhood.

Suarez is "unlawfully present" in the United States, Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to ABC11 on Wednesday night.

An arrest warrant alleges that Suarez left a construction truck running and did not set the parking brake Monday afternoon before it began rolling down a hill into a home, killing the boy, who went by Everett.

Officials told ABC11 on Wednesday afternoon that Suarez told police that he was a Mexican citizen.

On Wednesday evening, ICE confirmed to ABC11 that Suarez was "unlawfully present" in the U.S. In a statement, the agency said:

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a request that local law enforcement notify ICE prior to releasing Alejandro Suarez, a Mexican national unlawfully present in the United States, following his arrest December 26, on misdemeanor death by motor vehicle charges out of Orange County, North Carolina. Suarez is an ICE enforcement priority due to a prior conviction for driving under the influence in 2009."

Family and friends of Everett confirmed to ABC11 that his funeral will take place Friday afternoon at New Hope Church in Hillsborough.

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