The deaths of two firefighters in the 2007 Deutsche Bank tower blaze were the tragic result of a “horrible perfect storm," but not an act of criminal negligence, said a defense attorney in closing arguments at the manslaughter trial of three construction supervisors at the doomed site.
The firefighters, Bob Beddia, 53, and Joe Graffagnino, 33, were killed by smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning during the fire at the contaminated tower, which was under demolition.
During the Manhattan Supreme Court trial, prosecutors argued that Jeffrey Melofchik and two other supervisors, Mitchell Alvo and Salvatore dePaola, knew that a crucial water standpipe in the basement had been damaged and was never replaced, essentially cutting off the water supply to the building.
“It was literally hell up there,” said Melofchik’s attorney, Edward Little, of the fire. “[The firefighters] were trapped ... and it’s speculation and an illusion to say, ‘If only they had water, none of this would have happened.’"