LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WJW) — A grand jury has returned an indictment charging a construction company and its owner and foreman in the collapse of a parking lot in Lakewood late last year, the court said. Cuyahoga County District Attorney’s Office.
Atlas Masonry Restoration and Maintenance, owner Elmer Mekker and foreman Charles Hawley are accused of causing panic.
According to the indictment, jurors found that the defendants “caused the evacuation of a public place, or otherwise caused serious inconvenience or public alarm by committing an offence, without regard to the likelihood that its commission would cause serious public inconvenience or alarm and resulted in economic damage of $150,000 or more.
The collapse took place on December 23, resulting in major damage to the two-level underground parking structure at Marine Towers West, as well as the crushing of dozens of cars. However, no one was reported injured in the incident.
The district attorney’s office confirmed to FOX 8 that damages are estimated at more than $1 million and those charged face up to 36 months in prison.
The company had been hired to perform concrete repairs to the structure. The prosecutor’s office said Hawley and another employee removed concrete around some of the support pillars on the lower level of the garage, leaving only rebar. About 18 hours later, the structure began to shake, which led to the collapse.
Lakewood Police discovered in an investigation that plans to fully secure the pillars were non-existent.
The building, which was built in 1963 and has 171 units, was evacuated at the time of the incident, with residents allowed to return the next day.
Marine Towers West has been owned and operated by Burton Carol Management for over 25 years.
Joy Anzalone, chief operating officer, says they are still appalled at what happened because they have worked with the contractor several times over the years.
“The owner has always done a great job,” she said, “However, you’re only as good as your last job and it was horrible for everyone.”
When asked what they thought of the indictments, she replied: “Relieved, we were confident that the Town of Lakewood and the entire investigation team were incredibly thorough and would uncover the truth. and background of what had happened.”
The contractor’s actions also led Burton Carol to pay a $250 fine and plead no contest to a misdemeanor for failing to obtain a work permit.
“It is a miracle that the recklessness displayed, not only by Atlas Masonry but also by the owner and foreman in charge, did not result in serious injury or death,” prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement. communicated. “Their poor decisions put hundreds of lives at risk, and they must be held accountable.”
The construction company was also found guilty last month of failing to obtain a permit before working on the Lakewood municipal yard garage.
No arraignment date has yet been set in this new indictment.
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