Engineer faces criminal charges in collapse of Ontario mall

Posted Feb 1, 2014 by Arthur Weinreb
An engineer who found the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario structurally sound shortly before the roof collapsed has been charged criminally in the deaths of two women and injuring a third person.
Robert Wood  64  faces three criminal charges in the collapse of the Algo Mall in Elliot Lake  Ontar...
Robert Wood, 64, faces three criminal charges in the collapse of the Algo Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario on June 23, 2012
Screen capture / CBC News
At a press conference held yesterday, the Ontario Provincial Police announced charges have been laid against Robert Wood, 64. Wood faces two counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm arising out of the collapse of the roof of the mall in June 2012.
Part of the roof that held vehicles on top collapsed around 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, 2012. Doloris Perizzolo, 74, a shopper, and Lucie Aylwin, 37, an employee at the mall, were killed. Wood was the engineer who inspected Algo Centre.
It is alleged that in 2011, Wood told someone who was interested in purchasing the Algo Centre Mall that it would cost $1.5 million to fix the roof that, if not repaired, would eventually collapse. However at a judicial inquiry held into the collapse, evidence revealed that in May 2012, a month before the roof caved in, Wood reported that although the mall showed rusting on the surface, it was "structurally sound." Wood testified at the inquiry that he changed his position at the request of the mall owner who was attempting to obtain refinancing.
The inquiry heard the roof-top garage was poorly designed when it was built with and leaked from the beginning. An accumulation of water and salt over decades led to severe rusting of the steel supports.
Wood had been a professional engineer but was stripped of his engineering licence in November 2011 after he admitted misconduct in an unrelated matter.
The OPP brought in experts including independent engineers and contractors to assist them with their investigation. Det.-Supt. Dave Truax said, "This was a unique, complex and challenging investigation which took considerable time to process evidence and being precise in the application of criminal law."
The criminal investigation is ongoing and police are not saying whether they expect others to be charged in the mall's collapse.
As Digital Journal reported, Wood was charged on April 22, 2013, with two offences under Ontario's Occupational and Health Standards Act in relation to the mall collapse. One of these charges alleged Wood worked in a manner that endangered himself or other workers. The second charge alleged he gave advice that was negligent or incompetent and that a worker could be endangered by this advice.
Criminal negligence causing death carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment while anyone convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Wood is due to appear in court on March 25.
This is Elliot Lake  a small community in Northern Ontario  Canada.  The mall there collapsed on Jun...
This is Elliot Lake, a small community in Northern Ontario, Canada. The mall there collapsed on June 23, 2012.
Courtesy Wikipedia / P199