Thursday, March 28, 2013

Walking Pedestrians Deaths Fatalities Two Dead after Swanston St Wall Collapses on Footpath Right Place Wrong Time Herald Sun

The Pedestrians were in the right place, on the footpath, 

and had every reason to believe they would be safe from collapsing walls

as they ought to have been

Pete Dowe
Road Safety Advocate
March 29th 2013

Criminal charges could be laid over Swanston Street wall collapse, Coroners Court told

The Australian
wall collapse
The frantic moments after the wall collapse.
UPDATE: A CORONIAL inquest into a fatal wall collapse that killed three people in Melbourne could be delayed for years.
A Victorian Coroners Court preliminary hearing on the collapse at the Grocon building site has been told the possibility of criminal or civil prosecution is still being explored by WorkSafe, the City of Melbourne, the Building Commission and Victoria Police.
State Coroner Ian Gray said he was aware that a prosecution could delay the coronial inquest for two years or more, which could frustrate the grieving families.
"I will want to know as soon as possible ... whether there will be the prosecution of anybody,'' he said.
Wall collapse victims
Wall collapse victims Bridget and Alexander Jones, and French woman Dr Marie-Faith Fiawoo.
"I will want some time frame on when I will know that."
A 15m-long section of the brick wall fell onto Swanston Street in the inner city on March 28, killing pedestrians Dr Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, of France, and local teenage siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Sergeant Jen Brumby, said the inquest would explore the construction of the wall and the materials used, a wooden board that was fixed to the wall, and whether a permit for erecting that board had been sought.
Wall collapse tributes
Tributes at the site where siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones died along with Marie-Faith Fiawoo. Picture: Andrew Brownbill
The weather at the time of the collapse would also be examined.
The hearing heard that criminal charges could be laid over the fatal wall collapse.
Counsel representing five parties involved in the inquest into the deaths appeared before Mr Gray this morning for a directions hearing regarding the scope of the inquiry and updates on separate investigations into the tragedy.
Those interested parties are WorkSafe, construction company Grocon, City of Melbourne, the Building Commission and the family of one of the victims, French student Marie-Faith Fiawoo.
A barrister also appeared on behalf of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to make an application for leave to appear at the inquest.
In his opening remarks, Mr Gary expressed his sympathies and condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims.
Alex was trying to shield his sister from the falling bricks and debris in Swanston St.
Separate investigations into the tragedy are being conducted by WorkSafe, Grocon and Victoria Police on behalf of the Coroner.
Today's hearing was told that investigations were still on going and there was a possibility criminal charges could be laid over the deaths.
Peter Rozen, representing the Fiawoo family, raised concerns about potential criminal charges causing possible long delays to the imminent inquest.
Mr Gray informed the relevant investigative bodies he wanted regular updates on the status of their inquiries and to be informed as soon as possible about any potential criminal charges.
Sgt Jenny Brumby, assisting the coroner, told the hearing Acting Sgt Brooke Manley was in the process of compiling a brief of evidence including written witness statements and photographic and video evidence.
Sgt Brumby said the brief would include material relating to:
* A history of the site
* A history of the wall
* Details about a hoarding attached to the wall and regulations about its positioning
* A history of inspections carried out
* Details, including expert opinion, about the collapse
Neil Clelland, representing the CFMEU, made an application for the union to appear as an interested party at the inquest.
Mr Clelland submitted the union had a "real interest" to appear due to relevant issues surrounding construction site safety.
He told the court CFMEU members were on site prior to the wall collapse and some were first on the scene straight after the tragic collapse.
Mr Gray asked for written submissions from the CFMEU.
The inquest has been adjourned to a date to be fixed.

Two dead, one injured in Vic wall collapse

A SWARM of people dug through bricks and rubble but could not save two pedestrians crushed when a wall collapsed on a busy Melbourne street.
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A man and a woman, believed to be in their late teens, were killed when a 15-metre long section of brick wall fell on Swanston Street in Carlton.
A 19-year-old woman suffered life-threatening injuries in the collapse on Thursday afternoon.
Witnesses say passers-by dug desperately through the rubble to help the people trapped underneath.
"I just frantically ran across and started digging because I could see their head and half their torso out, so I was frantically taking the bricks off her," Martin Setka told AAP.
"The whole wall just gave way."
Another witness, Jonathan Lian, said the scene resembled a war zone.
Mr Lian was sitting in a cafe opposite when the wall collapsed, and came out to see people running towards the wall.
"It was really bad. It was like a war zone," he said.
"There was dust everywhere, and they were trying to dig people out. It was like chaos."
Inspector Ian Lindsay said it appeared that strong wind gusts had caused the wall to collapse.
"It appears they've just been pedestrians in the wrong place at the wrong time when the wall has collapsed," he told reporters.
He said police were yet to confirm the identity of the people killed.
The collapse occurred at the old Carlton & United brewery site, which is now a vacant building lot owned by Grocon.
The company has said it plans to develop the site, which it purchased in 2006, but no construction work is currently underway.
The site is near Melbourne University and RMIT, but it is not known if any of the three young people were students.
The injured woman has undergone surgery and remains in a critical condition in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Police, Grocon and WorkSafe are investigating the collapse.

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