PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The Allegheny County District Attorney says he found no criminally reckless behavior related to a ductwork collapse at Shaler Elementary School.
It was April 3, 2012 when more than 300 fourth grade students were in the school cafeteria having lunch when ductwork came crashing down on some of them, all 71 feet of it, weighing a little more than a ton.
Thirteen people were hurt, including seven children. Although District Attorney Stephen Zappala can find no criminal intent, he did acknowledge this.
“As you can imagine the number of persons whose lives were affected. There’s lawsuits regardless of what will take place today on the civil side,” said Zappala.
Zappala says there was a failure in the cable system that held the ductwork in place and everyone is pointing fingers at the other, from the manufacturer to installers and inspectors.
He added that there were 22 entities contracted to build the school.
So bottom line, here are the findings of the DA’s Office.
“A criminal investigation was undertaken in connection with what happened in Shaler,” said Zappala. “I have identified the specific crimes that we looked at. I do not find reckless intent that would make it appropriate to charge someone with a crime.”
Zappala did say the ductwork at Shaler Elementary is now fastened to the structure of the building and that a drop ceiling has been added so that students cannot see it.
The township’s police and building engineers have also investigated, and two high school gymnasiums with similar duct were shut down for a time to ensure they were safe.
At the time of the incident, Superintendent Dr. Wesley Shipley said it was an emotional ordeal for everyone involved.
“It was not just a traumatic experience for the kids, even though the kids were most directly affected,” said Dr. Shipley. “The teachers that were involved certainly care a lot about what the kids are going through and it’s traumatic for them as well.”
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