New security footage, 911 calls, reveal the chaos of the Elliot Lake mall collapse - Macleans.ca
 

New security footage, 911 calls, reveal the chaos of the Elliot Lake mall collapse

‘We’re all too afraid to go out there’


 

It looked like any mall on any Saturday afternoon. People sitting in a food court, sipping drinks. Shoppers coming and going, security cameras filming their fateful steps. A lottery kiosk stocked with magazines and scratch tickets. Lucie Aylwin, working alone behind the lotto booth, was dressed in a bright green shirt and black ballet flats. She was 37. Doloris Perizzolo, 74, stood at one side of the counter, a purse on her arm. She had her hair done that morning.

On the other side of the kiosk, opposite Doloris, another customer turned and walked away. Watching the surveillance footage, it’s as if the roof waited for her to leave. As soon as she was safely out of the way—at precisely 2:18 p.m.—the ceiling caved in, sending thousands of pounds of concrete crashing down on Lucie and Doloris.

How a shopping mall fell into such a state of disrepair that it literally crumbled to the ground is just one key question for an ongoing public inquiry. In the weeks to come, the commission will also examine the ensuing rescue effort, and why it took four days (and some political intervention) to reach those two women buried in the debris. But amid all the questions—and all the inevitable finger pointing—are some chilling new exhibits that reveal, yet again, how horrific that day was for so many.

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In one of the most dramatic recordings, Capt. Darren Connors, an Elliot Lake firefighter, reports making contact with a potential survivor stuck in the rubble. “I think I’m managing to communicate with her,” he says over his portable radio. “Most of it is just really hard to understand.”

  • Investigators seized the mall’s many security cameras. They discovered that the moment of the collapse was recorded from multiple angles.

  • Margrit Pulkowski, an assistant manager at Dollarama, was among the first to dial 911 that afternoon. “The roof just collapsed at the Algo Centre Mall,” she told the dispatcher. “We’re all too afraid to go out there.”

  • Elliot Lake firefighters and paramedics rushed onto the rubble pile in search of survivors. They found Doloris Perizzolo pinned under a concrete slab, but she did not have a pulse. The fire chief, Paul Officer, eventually ordered his men out of the building because it was too unsafe. A HUSAR team (Heavy Urban Search and Rescue) was later dispatched from Toronto.

“We’re responding”

“A whole from the second floor down”

“We’re doing casualty removal starting now”

“We have one patient trapped in a void”

“We can’t go underneath that at all”

“We have people trapped in the rubble”

HUSAR activation

“We haven’t heard anything from the victims for an hour”

“We’ve located the person, but it’s going to take us a while”

  • Three hours after the collapse, an OPP helicopter flew over the mall and recorded the wreckage below.

  • Engineers for HUSAR and the Ontario Ministry of Labour examined the collapse zone before the HUSAR team began its portion of the rescue effort.

  • The structural beam that collapsed was one of the dangers obstructing the rescue effort. A crew of welders was sent down in a crane to sever the beam from the building.

  • A Ford Explorer crashed through the roof when the parking lot caved in. It had to be hoisted out of the hole to allow rescue workers to continue their search.


 

New security footage, 911 calls, reveal the chaos of the Elliot Lake mall collapse

  1. This comment was deleted.

    • Hey Freddie!, I believe the reason that the tragic 9/11 happenings are that the Americans can’t keep their noses out of people’s business, and you got a very black eye for it…Push people too far and karma will turn and bite you on your chicken fried, Obama loving southern yokel’s arses! Yeah we know something about chaos…

      • Sigh.

      • Dear oh dear. It just goes to show the utter folly of teaching the pedestrian how to read and write.
        Oh, and it’s Frederica by the way – I’m a girl, silly!

    • I don’t think this is a contest. If you will remember, Fred, Canadians also lost their lives in 9/11 AND Canadians came to the aid of US citizens whose planes were all diverted to Canada during the 9/11 crisis. Whenever there is a loss of life in a tragedy, it is really not polite to unzip your pants and pull out your ruler. Thank you for your understanding.

      • You are correct about the impolite action of unzipping ones trousers, but as I mention elsewhere, I’ve no ruler: I’m a girl, silly!

        In future intercourse with yours truly, may I suggest you refrain from the use of vulgar metaphors like those? In this case, a simple statement referencing ‘descriptive’, ‘meta-ethical’ or ‘normative’ moral relativism would have sufficed nicely. You can use the big words with me, they don’t frighten me. Except maybe big, foreign words, I think. Coming over here, filling up our sentences and keeping our good, honest indigenous words under-employed…..filthy lexical bastards!

    • You’re an idiot.

      • An idiot?
        Hardly. Idiots – those who would score 0 to 50 on a standardised IQ test – cannot be taught to read and write. I do feel I have demonstrated my ability to at least write. Conversely, Imbeciles – those who would score 50 to 70 on a standardised IQ test – can be taught to read and write, but just barely. At the very least, I must be considered a high-functioning Imbecile, if not actually a border-line Moron – those who would score 70 to 90 on a standardised IQ test.

    • I live in Elliot Lake. I was nearly at the mall that day, in the food court, with my children. My mother and multiple friends were in the mall when it happened. Almost all of them are seeking therapy, for their PTSD, still having nightmares, having survivor’s guilt, having anxiety.

      Our whole town has suffered so much from this, our economy is shot, we all have to go out of town for most of our shopping. People everywhere are still having nightmares, still living this hell every day. The inquiry is still going, there are still not enough answers, and even with them, no peace comes from them.

      The women are still dead, the town is still reeling. Just because we didn’t have the kind of numbers of 9/11 (and Lord help those who were there), doesn’t make it any less of a tragedy. Doesn’t mean that people didn’t lose loved ones, doesn’t mean that the lives of those 2 women weren’t cherished, and that people are still trying to move on. It doesn’t mean that our town wasn’t still horrifically affected.

      It’s not a contest. This is our personal hell, and having been through something traumatic, you’d think you’d have some compassion, having an idea of the pain of the aftermath. How about, “I understand” instead of “I had it worse.” ?

    • Get some therapy – you’re obviously in need of it.

      • One of the many voices in my head is that of a Psychiatrist, and she tells me I am fine.
        Query?
        Do you possess the academic standing one necessarily requires to make such a diagnosis for a need for ‘therapy’? Did you follow the standard systematic diagnostic method know as, “DDx” – Differential Diagnostic procedure? Though I do try to give people the benefit of the doubt, I doubt you are qualified in this discipline.

        • Reading thru your previous comments I think proves my point :-) Now go away you silly troll.

          • Why are you being so mean?

            Besides, you appear not to possess the reading comprehension and/or cognitive skills one necessarily requires to glean anything from any dross I might deign to pixellate for the amusement of others.

            To wit:

            – “thru” instead of “through”?
            – use of a punctuation happy face? Dear oh dear.
            – calling me names – “silly troll”?

            You do realise, I trust, that to a class of third-graders, a sixth-grader pontificating on the arithmetic of mixed fractions would also appear to obviously need ‘therapy’.

  2. And still no negligence causing death arrests. Lots of talk and no action.

  3. I used to live in Elliot Lake and moved back south after loosing my husband. I do visit it to see a couple of friends that I made up there. I was a lucky person not to have been there that day as I had been up to see friends just the week before all this happened and was in that mall at around the same time of day on the previous Saturday. The town lost its social and economic hub when the mall collapsed. I remember many a time being in that mall with my husband and running into just about everyone that I met in the 3 years that I lived there.

    When a friend phoned to tell me of the collapse and I saw it on the internet what had happened I broke down and cried and felt for every Elliot Laker. I was in town for a couple of days while the enquiry has been going on and was very fortunate to get a hotel room as everyone was staying at the hotel from the enquiry. It was so sad to see the place where the mall had been.

    Most Elliot Lakers are hardy people and I know that the town will get thru all of this.

  4. And still no arrests for negligence causing death.

  5. thats a ford escape not an explorer