Criminal probe launched into Elliot Lake mall collapse
Published Tuesday, July 3, 2012 4:56PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 3, 2012 11:52PM EDT
Ontario Provincial Police will launch a criminal investigation into the Elliot Lake mall roof collapse that killed two people and injured 22 others.
In a news release, the OPP said it has been helping the coroner’s office investigate the deaths of two women who were buried in the rubble when the Algo Centre Mall’s roof caved in on June 23.
“As a result of information obtained, the Ontario Provincial Police is now undertaking a parallel criminal investigation into the circumstances regarding the mall roof collapse,” the news release said.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has already announced an independent, public inquiry into the incident to find out if it could have been prevented and how similar tragedies can be avoided in the future.
The bodies of Lucie Aylwin, 37, and Doloris Perizzolo, 74, were pulled from the rubble last week.
Search-and-rescue crews said there seemed to be signs of life amid the wreckage shortly after the collapse, but they couldn’t enter the partially collapsed building because it was deemed too unstable.
After officials announced their plans to halt the rescue mission, the community reacted angrily and McGuinty instructed the crews to do whatever it took to find any possible survivors without endangering the rescuers.
Heavy machinery with a 150-foot robotic arm was also sent to the northern Ontario town to help clear the rubble. Aylwin and Perizzolo’s bodies were removed from the site four days after the roof collapsed.
The provincial inquiry will review the search-and-rescue response as well as local residents’ complaints that the mall had been unsafe for years.
Many of them said the mall roof often leaked during rainy weather and heavy snow and questioned how the shopping centre passed building inspections.
Since the fatal roof collapse, the Toronto-based owners of the mall have received several death threats, their lawyer said last week. They are also facing a class-action lawsuit.
The Ministry of Labour continues to investigate the incident.
The OPP is asking anyone with information about the mall roof collapse to contact a special information line at 1-855-677-4636.