Inquest begins in fatal Uptown Theatre collapse
A Toronto coroner's inquest began Monday to determine what caused the fatal Uptown Theatre collapse nearly four years ago.
The inquest will look into a number of elements including the practices of the demolition industry, structural analysis of the Yonge Street building and the possibility of human error.
On Dec. 8, 2003 a section of the historic movie house fell into the Yorkville English Academy, killing one and injuring 14 others.
Costa Rican student Augusto Cesar Mejia Solis, 27, was killed in the accident. He was hailed as a hero after it was found he used his body to shield a 10-year-old Korean boy from the falling debris.
Solis had graduated from the academy three days before the accident, but decided to re-enroll to polish his English skills.
The coroner's jury heard Monday that demolition companies are required to hire engineers to conduct site inspections.
The engineer hired to inspect the Uptown Theatre didn't visit the site until after the building collapsed.
Some of the first emergency crew personnel to respond to the accident attended the start of the inquest. Advance care paramedic John Flankas said it is lucky there weren't more fatalities.
"I'm a little surprised the regulations weren't stricter for construction. We're always hearing about permit here, permit there," Flankas said Monday.
Priestly Demolition of Aurora, Ont., was hired by Uptown to demolish the building. The contractor paid a $200,000 fine after pleading guilty to a violation under the Health and Safety Act.
The company also faces a lawsuit filed by the owner of the Yorkville English Academy, which was located on Balmuto Street near Yonge and Bloor Streets.
It's hoped the inquest will lead to tougher health and safety guidelines for the demolition industry, however, the inquest can not assign criminal or legal blame.
With a report from CTV's Chris Eby