|Rescue workers stand in attention as a second body is being recovered at the scene of the Algo Mall roof collapse in Elliot Lake, Ontario, June 27, 2012. REUTERS/Kenneth Armstrong
SUDBURY, Ont. - Ontario Provincial Police will launch a criminal investigation into the mall roof collapse in Elliot Lake, Ont., that killed two women and injured 22.
A mall collapse such as this “is just unheard of,” OPP spokesman Sgt. Pierre Chamberland said Tuesday afternoon.
“As a result of where these investigations were going,the decision's been made that there's enough information here that resulted in us feeling it was proper to open up a criminal investigation,” said Chamberland.
“The coroner's office didn't have the resources, so it turned to the experts. That is why we assigned the CIB out of the gate because of the nature and the severity of this particular incident.”
It is not known how many OPP personnel will be involved in the investigation, but they will spend thousands of hours looking into why and how the disaster occurred.
Stories have surfaced since the disaster about the poor state of repair of the mall. Water leaking into stores was a common occurrence.
The OPP has set up a special line for people to call with information that may help police with their criminal investigation.
“We'll follow the evidence wherever it takes us ... and we're encouraging the public, anybody who lives in the area who's got information that they need to share,” to call the hotline, Chamberland said.
“We'll take that information and follow it up as appropriate to get to the bottom” of why the disaster occurred.Residents of the small, northern Ontario city have been very vocal about the mall’s perceived lack of maintenance.
Many spoke out about the building’s chronic leaking roof and other problems, and a lawyer for the mall’s owner was verbally accosted by residents during a media scrum after the recovery mission last week.
Last Friday, the province announced it would launch an independent public inquiry.
“I spoke to the families of (the late) Doloris Perizzolo and Lucie Aylwin in Elliot Lake on Wednesday and again today by telephone,” Premier Dalton McGuinty said last week, in announcing the plans.
“These families - and other Ontarians - have raised important questions that deserve to be answered.”
The Ministry of Labour is also conducting an investigation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Last week, it released its inspection reports of the mall, including a Jan. 11 visit in response to a complaint of a leaking roof.
The report says that mall is evaluating its options and will deal with the problem “on a permanent basis” in the spring or summer of 2012.
“No orders issued,” the report says.