1 Acquitted in Fatal Deutsche Bank Blaze Near Ground Zero

Email a Friend

A supervisor of a construction company has been acquitted of manslaughter and all other charges in a fire that killed two firefighters at a condemned tower near Ground Zero.

Construction foreman Salvatore DePaola was handed his verdict Tuesday. The jury will continue to deliberate charges for Jeffrey Melofchik, and a judge hasn't rendered a verdict for a third defendant and the company.

"I haven't slept in four years," DePaola said.

Firefighters Robert Beddia, 53, and Joseph Graffagnino, 33, were killed in the August 2007 fire at the former Deutsche Bank Building after they became trapped in thick black smoke and ran out of air in their oxygen tanks.

Prosecutors argued a break in the building's standpipe — which delivers water to firefighters — was a crucial factor in the deaths of the firefighters, who spent about an hour getting water to the flames.

The building was in the process of being taken down because it was damaged and contaminated on September 11, 2001, when the fatal blaze broke out.

With the Associated Press