A Whatcom County man working with a longtime friend on their first demolition job together died when he was crushed beneath a steel beam Monday afternoon, June 8.
James Loyd Bost, 52, who went by Loyd, was helping to take apart and scrap a cyclone air separator outside the Golden Nut Company on Odell Road. The 30-foot-tall piece of machinery — an industrial-sized filter for dust and other small particles in the air — is shaped roughly like an upright concrete mixer, with the smaller conical end facing the ground. Four steel I-beams form a square to support the tower, which weighs several tons.
On Monday afternoon Paul Davis, owner of the contracting business Call Paul, was sitting in a forklift holding up the separator as it leaned about 4 feet to the south, he said. The plan was for Bost, who stood about three steps up on a ladder, to slice one of the support beams with a cutting torch, and Davis’ forklift would gradually guide the heavy separator to the ground. Another man was working as a safety spotter.
Bost cut the support around 1 o’clock. There was a sudden collapse.
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“Physically, if someone explained to me what I saw happen, I don’t think I could believe it,” Davis said. “The laws of physics say things come down. It was like the hand of God took it and flipped it the other way, uphill.”
According to police, two beams buckled under the separator, and knocked the other two outward. One of the beams fell onto Bost. North Whatcom firefighters across the street at Station 61 reached the scene within two or three minutes. Bost died at the scene from asphyxia, said Dr. Gary Goldfogel, the county medical examiner.
Investigators with the state Department of Labor and Industries are working to figure out what went wrong. Police suspect metal fatigue had something to do with it, since the equipment was about 25 years old and “beyond its useful service life,” said Blaine Police Sgt. Ryan King.
Bost, a longtime resident of the Everson area, had been staying with Davis for about a month. Davis had thought of retiring the business — he’d done demolition and construction work for about 40 years — but then he and Bost got to talking and decided to see what they could do together.
“When he moved in he suggested we get it going and see what we could do,” Davis said. “This was like a trial run.”
Davis and Bost, friends for about two decades, were working their first job together on Monday.
“He was honest, straightforward, a straight-shooter,” Davis said. “If something was amiss, he’d let you know about it. The world would be a better place if he were still in it.”
Bost’s son, Logan, said the family moved to Washington from Prewitt, N.M., in 1999.
Over the course of his life Bost studied math, physics, English, teaching, business, and accounting at the college level, his son said. He studied at seminary to become a pastor. He worked as a mechanic, a truck driver, an insurance salesman and a public accountant. His next idea was to sell life insurance.
Bost lost his wife and soulmate, Shauna MacCallum Bost, to lung cancer in 2013. After she died, Logan said, Loyd lived for his grandchildren.
“He was full of life. He was strong. He came through it. He held the family together, to be honest,” Logan Bost said. “He still loved life. He was a great man, a wonderful father, and he worked his ever-loving tail off.”
A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at Calvary Chapel Northwest, 6015 Guide Meridian.