EXCLUSIVE: Firefighter’s Widow, Union Ask DA To Reconsider Decision To Not Criminally Charge Building Owners In Deadly Warehouse Blaze
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By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Diane Neary, widow of Philadelphia Fire Lieutenant Robert Neary, expressed her concern about a decision announced Monday by District Attorney Seth Williams, not to file criminal charges against the owners of a vacant, dilapidated Kensington warehouse that burned and collapsed killing Neary and fellow firefighter Daniel Sweeney.
Williams, speaking to reporters the day after making his decision known, explained that because, after a nearly two year grand jury investigation, no cause could be determined, he lacked the evidence he needed to make arrests.
Neary, in an exclusive interview with CBS 3′s Walt Hunter, asked the DA to reconsider, adding that the lack of charges left families of the firefighters deprived of closure and justice. Local 22 President Joe Schulle also asked the DA to rethink his decision, stressing the huge impact it had on firefighters and families.
An attorney for the owners issued a statement reading in part, “I would take issue with an inference that they conducted themselves negligently.”
Both the Neary and Sweeney families vowed, beyond the Grand Jury and the DA’s decision, they would continue to seek justice for their loved ones. Both families have filed civil lawsuits against the owners.
The Grand Jury report also cited shortcomings in fire department training and safety procedures along with failures in the City’s Licenses and Inspections Department to properly inspect the vacant building and keep it safe. City officials responded that they are already actively addressing the issues.