Engineer Charged With Fatal Roof Collapse

Police have laid charges against an engineer after two women were killed following the collapse of a mall roof in Elliot Lake. Two weeks prior to the fatal collapse, an engineer had wrongfully declared the building’s roof to be structurally sound.

Ontario Provincial police laid charges against Robert Wood, 64, following the investigation. According to Detective-Superintendent, Dave Truax, the case posed unique challenges to investigating officers, and was a “challenging investigation which took considerable time to process evidence and being precise in the application of criminal law.”

Wood faces two counts of criminal negligence causing death, and one count of criminal negligence resulting in bodily harm following the June 2012 collapse that killed Doloris Perizzolo and Lucie Aylwin. Truax did not say if others will face charges in connection to the collapse, but emphasized that the investigation is still ongoing.

Poor Design and Rust Erosion Caused Damage to Structural Supports

An inquiry into the collapse revealed that the roof of the Algo Centre Mall was poorly designed, and leaked from the very beginning. Decades of water and salt penetration lead to severe rusting of the roof’s steel support structure.

In 2011, Wood was cited as having told a prospective buyer that repairs to the mall’s roof would cost $1.5 million, and reportedly warned the buyer that the repairs were necessary to avoid a collapse. However, during the inquiry, Wood claimed that he could not recall the alleged conversation.

In May 2012, following an assessment of the property, Wood told the mall’s owner that the steel structures supporting the mall’s roof showed surface rusting but were otherwise “structurally sound” and that the roof showed “no visual distress.”

Wood later admitted to changing his final inspection report after he and his partner had signed off on it. The changes included removing written observations of “ongoing leakage,” and photographs of corroded steel beams and of tarps being used to collect leaking water.

Wood claims that the changes to the inspection report were made at the request of the mall’s owner, who was worried that the assessment would affect his ability to refinance the building.

Inspect Your Roof Before Disaster Strikes

Structural damage to commercial buildings puts you and your company at risk. Roof collapses pose significant safety risks, and costly damages. The trained professionals at Flynn Canada’s Edmonton offices conduct on-site roof inspections that will identify potential threats to your building’s structural integrity. We are committed to keeping our clients informed of preventative measures for roof maintenance. Call us today to schedule your roof inspection, and we will help to protect your business from preventable damages.

Posted on April 2nd, 2014