The chairman of a panel conducting a public inquiry into the
devastating collapse of a Quebec overpass says he will not be playing the blame
The overpass in Laval, north of Montreal, was only about halfway
through its projected lifespan of 70 years when a 60-foot chunk fell Saturday
and crushed several cars, killing five people and injuring six.
Government officials launched the inquiry Thursday, Oct. 5, to focus on
the structure itself and the events leading up to the collapse, rather than the
media frenzy and finger pointing.
The main questions the three appointed panelists will try to answer
involve the events leading up to the collapse of de la Concorde Boulevard over
Autoroute 19 in Laval, including witness reports of smaller chunks falling from
the structure prior to the collapse.
Canadian and American media are pressing to find out if other such
tragedies could occur elsewhere and what their governments are doing to ensure
the integrity of all infrastructure.
Panel Chairman Pierre Marc Johnson, and attorney and former leader of
the Parti Quebecois political party, told the press Wednesday he’s not
interested in a blame game.
“It’s not part of the mandate to pass judgment on the level of
resources given in general to transport maintenance in Quebec,” Johnson said
during a press conference.
The panelists visited the site Wednesday to begin the arduous task of
piecing the event together. The panel will not disclose any working theories
until the investigation is complete.
A husband and wife and the husband’s brother, all in their 40s, were
killed in one of the crushed cars. A man and woman, both 28, were killed in the
other car. Six other people were injured, including one person still in
intensive care. All of the families were from Quebec.
Funerals for the victims are scheduled Friday.
Highway 19 in the Laval region remains closed indefinitely, which has
disrupted traffic in and around the northern metropolitan Montreal area.