Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Elliot Lake survivor on the moment the mall collapsed: ‘Oh man, it was crazy’

Rescue workers wait to access the wreckage of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, as cranes remove debris caused by the mall's roof collapsed last Saturday.


Sarah Ball, an employee at Mum's Place in the Algo Centre Mall, was in the mall food court when it collapsed. As she tells Lindsay Jolivet, the scene was one of terror and confusion. Now, like the rest of the small community of Elliot Lake, she's holding out for news that those trapped beneath the rubble are alive – especially her friend Lucie Aylwin.

At first, when they shut it down – oh man, it was crazy.

I was standing there serving a customer and facing the food court where it happened and we just heard this rumbling sound. Then I'm looking up and all of a sudden the whole roof starts caving in. I saw the roof crumbling and I saw it was going to crumble all the way towards our restaurant, where I was standing, so my first instinct was to book it into the fridge because it's all titanium in there.

Story continues below advertisement

That was what we had joked about, because we knew the mall was ready to crumble. So we'd joked, if worse comes to worse we run into there. So I did. And then, while I was in there everything went quiet and you heard people screaming, "Where do we go? There's no way out." So I ran out of there and I heard my boss yell, "get out of here Sarah."

I told everyone to follow me and I held the doors. Some of my coworkers ended up staying to help a few of the people that were stuck or so badly hurt that they couldn't really comprehend where to go. I got out, helped a lady down the big concrete stairs and that was that.

Today I'm just staying by, keeping the news on, staying by the phone and hoping that my friend Lucie is found and hopefully recovered. She'd come to my cash every single day for her morning coffee. I'm just waiting and waiting.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to