Montreal woman killed by falling concrete slab

A woman dining at a downtown Montreal restaurant was struck and instantly killed by a piece of falling concrete Thursday evening.

The 33-year-old was dining with her husband at the Mikasa Sushi Bar when a slab of concrete fell off a hotel on Peel Street, near the corner of De Maisonneuve Boulevard.

A waiter at the restaurant said the couple was celebrating the woman's birthday, and they requested the table in the corner of the atrium.

A slab of decorative concrete came crashing through the atrium window of the restaurant, located on the ground floor of the Marriott Residence Inn, from 18 storeys above.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Montreal police said the victim's husband, also 33, lost some fingers and was treated for severe shock.

"He may have lost a few fingers but he's in hospital in a stable state," said Const. Olivier Lapointe.

Lapointe said a section of Peel Street, which is in the heart of the city, was expected to remain closed for several hours as a precaution while the fire department inspected the building.

It's not clear what caused the slab, about one metre by 1½ metres, to come off the side of the building, Lapointe said. Fire officials said they suspect a weld holding the slab of concrete might have come loose.

Police said it looks as though this was an accident and they don't suspect foul play, but police and city engineers as well as the fire department continued to investigate the scene Friday morning.

Quebec's Régie du bâtiment, the province's board in charge of building safety, was slated to meet Friday morning to determine the cause of the accident.

Police said Peel Street would be shut down between De Maisonneuve Boulevard and Sherbrooke Street for most of Friday, and potentially over the weekend.