It’s been just over a year since Mary Vega last saw her son, Alex. Alex Vega, 22, and his girlfriend, Michela Gregory, 20, were among the 36 people who died on Dec. 2, 2016, when fire engulfed the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland.
“It just feels like it happened yesterday,” Mary Vega said Monday outside an Oakland courtroom. “And then at the same time it’s been an eternity.”
This week, Vega is planning to be in court along with other family members of the deceased to hear evidence against two men facing criminal charges for the Ghost Ship fire.
The Alameda County district attorney has charged Derick Almena, the master tenant for the Fruitvale warehouse, and Max Harris, who helped manage the space, with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. A preliminary hearing -- where a judge will decide if the evidence merits the case proceeding to trial -- is set to begin Wednesday and take approximately five days.
Prosecutors are expected to interview witnesses and present evidence in support of their charge that Almena and Harris acted with gross negligence and disregard for human life. Prosecutors argue that by allowing people to live in the warehouse, holding events there and conducting unpermitted work in the building, the two men created a high risk of death.