Criminal charges could be laid in Elliot Lake mall collapse

A “significant” announcement planned for Friday morning


Eighteen months after a shopping mall collapse killed two women in Elliot Lake, Ont., provincial police are planning to provide a “a brief but significant” update to their ongoing criminal investigation. A press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.

A spokeswoman for the Ontario Provincial Police would not say whether criminal charges have been laid, but a deputy commissioner, Scott Tod, is among those flying to Elliot Lake for Friday’s announcement. “It is a brief update, but it is a significant matter to the Algo Mall investigation,” Sgt. Carolle Dionne told Maclean’s Thursday night, repeating the details issued in an earlier news release.

Doloris Perizzolo and Lucie Aylwin were crushed to death on the afternoon of June 23, 2012 when a portion of the mall’s rooftop parking lot crashed into a lottery kiosk below. Nearly two dozen others were injured. The tragedy—and the emergency response that followed—triggered an exhaustive public inquiry that is scheduled to release its final report in October.

In the meantime, though, the OPP has been conducting its own criminal investigation—and until now, the force has not publicly commented on the fruits of that investigation.

Last May, the Ontario Ministry of Labour filed two provincial charges against Robert G.H. Wood, a Sault Ste. Marie engineer who inspected the doomed mall and declared it “structurally sound” just ten weeks before the cave-in. Now retired, the 65-year-old faces two counts, including one of “providing negligent advice.” If convicted, he faces up to one year in prison and a $25,000 fine.

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