“MY SECOND HUSBAND”: Station Fire Memorial Foundation president and fire survivor Gina Russo (left) stands with Jody King. King and Russo both lost loved ones in the fire and have supported each other through the years, with Russo deeming him her “second husband.”
(WARWICK BEACON PHOTOS BY JOHN HOWELL) - Fired from her cashier’s job at Wal-Mart for wearing a lip ring, Lizz Arruda, 24, a machinist’s daughter, was in the third month of a far more lucrative new job, dancing at the Foxy Lady strip club in Providence, when the fire ruined her life. Burns covered 23 percent of Arruda’s 98-pound body – her face and arms, her entire back and her thighs. Her boyfriend, Tom Marion Jr., 27, a furniture-department manager at Wal-Mart and an aspiring rock guitarist, perished, shortly after pushing Arruda into the snow, saving her life. It took nearly a week for his remains to be identified. Arruda spent five weeks in two different hospitals. “I had three surgeries,” she recalls one evening in January at the apartment she shares with her four-year-old daughter, Zoey, in Westport, Massachusetts. “The burn on my thigh was a fourth-degree burn, almost down to the bone.” Arruda laughs, mordantly, about the prospect of paying her rapidly accumulating medical bills. “I don’t really think about that,” she says. “That’s the last thing on my mind. There’s nothing I can do. I don’t have the money, or any health insurance.”
MUSICAL TRIBUTE: The crowd watches as Joe Silva performs “97 Angels,” a song he wrote following the Station fire and before 100 victims were identified. - Even though the makeup that covers the burns on her face makes any damage virtually invisible, Arruda is uncomfortable with the way she looks now. She talks by candle light, defeated and nervous, dark eyes locked onto the floor of her small kitchen. “I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I did before,” she says. “I’m always depressed. I talked to a psychiatrist for three months. He was crazier than I was. All he did was prescribe me things. I would sleep all day, and when I got up I would feel like total shit. For months after I got out of the hospital, I didn’t want to do anything. People had to come here and get me out of bed.” Zoey had trouble, too. “She was scared when she first saw me after the fire,” Arruda says. “She wouldn’t sit next to me, or come near me. She asks all the time, ‘How come Tom never came back?’ I just tell her he went to heaven.”
Image Above - A local man comes down to the Station Nightclub for answers and information on missing and presumed dead individuals. Not all of the survivors were left physically or emotionally devastated. A few of the unscathed seem blithely unaffected by the tragedy. Adam Tanzi, a burly security guard at Wal-Mart, in Warwick, was one of the first people to escape the fire. A cop pulled him out of the pile of bodies near the main entrance to the Station, and Tanzi hopped in his car and drove home. He has a few scars on his back, but that’s about it. Still, the lack of fundraising help from others in the rock community irks him. “The big-name acts should have given something,” he says.
In the days after the fire, there were considerable efforts to assign and avoid blame on the part of the band, the nightclub owners, the manufacturers and distributors of the foam material and pyrotechnics, and the concert promoters. Through attorneys, club owners said they did not give permission to the band to use pyrotechnics. Band members claimed they had permission.
A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) investigation of the fire under the authority of the National Construction Safety Team Act, using computer simulations with FDS and a mock up of the stage area and dance floor, concluded that a fire sprinkler system would have contained the fire long enough to give everyone time to exit safely. However, because of the building's age (built in 1946) and size (4,484 square feet [412 m2]), many believed the Station to be exempt from sprinkler system requirements. In fact, the building had undergone an occupancy change when it was converted from a restaurant to a nightclub. This change dissolved its exemption from the law, a fact that West Warwick fire inspectors never noticed. On the night in question, the Station was legally required to have a sprinkler system but did not; outcry over the event has sparked calls for a national Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act but those efforts have so far stalled.
On December 9, 2003, brothers Jeffrey A. and Michael A. Derderian, the two owners of The Station nightclub, and Daniel M. Biechele, Great White's road manager at the time of the fire, were each charged with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter – two per death, because they were indicted under two separate theories of the crime: criminal-negligence manslaughter (resulting from a legal act in which the accused ignores the risks to others and someone is killed) and misdemeanor manslaughter (resulting from a petty crime that causes a death). The brothers pleaded not guilty to the charges, while Biechele pleaded guilty. The Derderians also were fined $1.07 million for failing to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees, four of whom died in the blaze.
The first criminal trial was against Great White's tour manager at the time, Daniel Michael Biechele, 26, from Orlando, Florida. This trial was scheduled to start May 1, 2006, but Biechele, against his lawyers' advice, pleaded guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter on February 7, 2006, in what he said was an effort to "bring peace, I want this to be over with." On May 10, 2006, State Prosecutor Randall White asked that Biechele be sentenced to 10 years in prison, the maximum allowed under the plea bargain, citing the massive loss of life in the fire and the need to send a message. Speaking to the public for the first time since the fire, Biechele appeared remorseful during his sentencing. Choking back tears, he made a statement to the court and to the families of the victims.
Station nightclub co-owner Jeffrey Derderian, second left, his wife Linda, Top Right.
For three years, I've wanted to be able to speak to the people that were affected by this tragedy, but I know that there's nothing that I can say or do that will undo what happened that night. Since the fire, I have wanted to tell the victims and their families how truly sorry I am for what happened that night and the part that I had in it. I never wanted anyone to be hurt in any way. I never imagined that anyone ever would be. I know how this tragedy has devastated me, but I can only begin to understand what the people who lost loved ones have endured. I don't know that I'll ever forgive myself for what happened that night, so I can't expect anybody else to. I can only pray that they understand that I would do anything to undo what happened that night and give them back their loved ones. I'm so sorry for what I have done, and I don't want to cause anyone any more pain. I will never forget that night, and I will never forget the people that were hurt by it. I am so sorry.
Superior Court Judge Francis J. Darigan Jr sentenced Biechele to 15 years in prison, with four to serve and 11 years suspended, plus three years' probation, for his role in the fire. Darigan remarked, "The greatest sentence that can be imposed on you has been imposed on you by yourself." Under this sentence, with good behavior, Biechele would be eligible for parole in September 2007. Judge Darigan deemed Biechele highly unlikely to re-offend, which was among the mitigating factors that led to his decision to impose this sentence. The sentence drew mixed reactions in the courtroom. Many of the families believed that the punishment was just; others had hoped for a more severe sentence.
Judge Francis Darigan admonishes those giving victim impact statements to stay within specified guidelines during court. - On September 4, 2007, some families of the fire's victims expressed their support for Biechele's parole. Leland Hoisington, whose 28-year-old daughter, Abbie, was killed in the fire, told reporters, "I think they should not even bother with a hearing—just let Biechele out... I just don't find him as guilty of anything." The state parole board received approximately 20 letters, the majority of which expressed their sympathy and support for Biechele, some going as far as to describe him as a "scapegoat" with limited responsibility.
Board chairwoman Lisa Holley told journalists of her surprise at the forgiving attitude of the families, saying, "I think the most overwhelming part of it for me was the depth of forgiveness of many of these families that have sustained such a loss." Dave Kane and Joanne O'Neill, parents of youngest victim Nicholas 0'Neill, released their letter to the board to reporters. "In the period following this tragedy, it was Mr. Biechele, alone, who stood up and admitted responsibility for his part in this horrible event... He apologized to the families of the victims and made no attempt to mitigate his guilt," the letter said.
Image Left - Leland Hoisington of Warwick, R.I., a former math teacher at the Coelho Middle School in South Attleboro, lost his daughter Abbie in The Station nightclub fire.
Abbie L. Hoisington dedicated herself to teaching and to her students, making time to take them on shopping trips and attend their after-school performances. The 28-year-old special education teacher wore a nose ring, spiked her hair, and was sometimes mistaken for a student at Burrillville High School in Harrisville, R.I.
The Cranston woman brought her spunky presence to Burrillville High last fall, after teaching at other schools in Rhode Island, including Cranston East High School, her alma mater.
"She walked the extra mile for her kids," said Richard Trogisch, principal at Burrillville High. "She was a very empathetic person who really loved her kids. She will be missed by her students and the aides she worked with. She was a young, vivacious teacher who really loved her job and everyone knew it."
After learning that Hoisington had died in last week's fire, her students, many of whom have multiple handicaps, wrote about their beloved teacher, signing a piece of paper that stated "Ms. Hoisington was special to us because ... she made us laugh a lot, she was our best friend, she made us want to learn, she took us on special field trips and introduced us to new pen pals."
Hoisington molded homemade soap with her students, introduced them to the Internet, took them to the grocery store, and showed them how to cook meals.
Her father, Leland Hoisington, said she had wanted to get a refrigerator, washer, and dryer for the classroom to help teach the children life skills.
"Her students were her life," he said.
Even when she socialized with other teachers after school, she talked about her students.
"She loved her kids; she talked about her kids a lot," recalled Amy Van Horn, an art teacher at Burrillville. "Her kids really looked up to her."
Van Horn said Hoisington's students once put little rhinestones on their noses as a joke, mimicking their teacher's facial jewelry.
Hoisington attended the Great White concert with her friend, Lisa D'Andrea, 42, a special education teacher at Cranston East High School, who also died in the fire.
Just before the fire at The Station nightclub, Nicholas O'Neill had a chance to meet members of the band Great White, an encounter he relayed to his friend David Tessier in a phone message before the band took the stage.
''There's no place in the world he would have been other than right there,'' Tessier said.O'Neill, 18, known as "Nicky O.," was an aspiring musician who was described as "a walking library of '80s rock knowledge" by his friend Jon Brennan. He and Brennan played in a band called Shryne, which last year put out its first record, "Day Has Turned to Evening."
Image Above - Nicholas O'Neill was the youngest victim of the disaster he was 18.
Tessier praised O'Neill's songwriting ability and stage presence. "I was in awe of this kid's talent," said Tessier, 32, who plays guitar in a band called Grandizer Punch. "He inspired me as a musician."
Tessier recalled O'Neill's "glam" style, and his wardrobe of fur jackets, sandals, and jeans slit up the sides. For his 18th birthday in January, O'Neill got his first Marshall amplifier and was working on strengthening his skills as a guitarist, Tessier said.
Shryne played at The Station on New Year's Eve. Brennan, a student at Rhode Island College, was with O'Neill in the club the night of the fire, but he managed to escape. Brennan remembered his friend as a young man devoted to his friends and his music. "He was a rocker through and through."
Others pointed out that Biechele had sent handwritten letters to the families of each of the 100 victims and that he had a work release position in a local charity. On September 19, 2007, the Rhode Island Parole Board announced that Biechele would be released in March 2008.
Biechele was released from prison on March 19, 2008. As reported by the Associated Press, he did not answer any questions and was quickly whisked away in a waiting car.
Following Biechele's trial, the Station's owners, Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, were scheduled to receive separate trials. However, on September 21, 2006, Superior Court Judge Francis J. Darigan announced that the brothers had changed their pleas from "not guilty" to "no contest" thereby avoiding a trial. Michael Derderian received 15 years in prison, with four to serve and 11 years suspended, plus three years' probation—the same sentence as Biechele. Jeffrey Derderian received a 10-year suspended sentence, three years' probation, and 500 hours of community service. In a letter to the victims' families, Judge Darigan said that a trial "would only serve to further traumatize and victimize not only the loved ones of the deceased and the survivors of this fire, but the general public as well." He added that the difference in the brothers' sentences reflected their respective involvement with the purchase and installation of the flammable foam.
Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch objected strenuously to the plea bargain, saying that both brothers should have received jail time and that Michael Derderian should have received more time than Biechele. In January 2008, the Parole Board decided to grant Michael Derderian an early release; he was scheduled to be released from prison in September 2009, but was granted his release in June 2009 for good behavior.
Dierks Bentley performs during Phoenix Rising Musicians United to Benefit the Victims of the Station Nightclub
As of September 2008, at least $115 million in settlement agreements had been paid, or offered, to the victims or their families by various defendants: In September 2008, The Jack Russell Tour Group Inc. offered $1 million in a settlement to survivors and victim's relatives, the maximum allowed under the band's insurance plan.
Club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian have offered to settle for $813,000, which is to be covered by their insurance plan due to the pair having bankruptcy protection from lawsuits.
The State of Rhode Island and the town of West Warwick agreed to pay $10 million as settlement.
Sealed Air Corporation agreed to pay $25 million as settlement. Sealed Air made flammable packaging foam that was improperly installed in the club, which required acoustic foam designed for this purpose. In February 2008, Providence television station WPRI-TV made an out-of-court settlement of $30 million as a result of the claim that their video journalist was said to be obstructing escape and not sufficiently helping people exit. In March 2008, JBL Speakers settled out of court for $815,000. JBL was accused of using flammable foam inside their speakers. The company denied any wrongdoing. Anheuser-Busch has offered $5 million.McLaughlin & Moran, Anheuser-Busch's distributor, has offered $16 million. Home Depot and Polar Industries, Inc. (a Connecticut based insulation company), made a settlement offer of $5 million. Providence radio station WHJY-FM promoted the show, which was emcee'd by it's DJ, Mike "The Doctor" Gonsalves (who was one of the casualies that night), Clear Channel Broadcasting, WHJY's parent company, paid a settlement of $22 million in February 2008.
American Foam Corporation who sold the insulation to the Station Nightclub agreed in 2008 to pay $6.3 million to settle lawsuits relating to the fire.
For the past decade and years fire has been a constant reminder and unwanted companion. Joe was one of the survivors of the Station Nightclub disaster but not without receiving some of the worst burns someone can suffer and still survive. Joe had to fight his way back from his injuries that should of killed him but did not, Now Joe freezes in fear at the sight of flames even a small candle brings back that terrible day that went down in history as the fourth worst nightclub fire ever recorded in the US. I can be around it for a little while, but eventually my inner self takes over and I have to walk away from it,” says Kinan, 45, who now lives in Lakeville, Massachusetts, with his fiancée, fellow burn survivor Carrie Pratt, and their 6-month-old daughter, Hadley.
Image Left - Joe Kinan before the fatal fire, “I try to look at it and face it but it’s tough,” “Even if it’s just a candle with a one-inch flame, it’s like the size of a tree to me.” Kinan had third- and fourth-degree burns on 40 percent of his body and a scorched scalp. The damage forced him to lose all his fingers and toes, plus his left eye, Yet Joe refuses to feel sorry for himself. He calls May 10, 2003 – the day he awoke in the hospital after nearly three months in a coma – his “second birthday.” Why - he questions himself, “Because I lived,” he says. “Because I died three times during all the surgeries and I could have died in the coma. The girl in the bed next to me in the hospital had almost identical injuries to me from A to Z – and she didn’t make it.” Kinan has had 128 surgeries – including a left hand transplant – over the last 11 years and faces many, many more. “Scar tissue shrinks, and because it’s such soft tissue, it shrinks more often,” he explains. “So they have to go and add skin about every 18 months or so.”
Joe Kinan & Carrie Pratt Engagement Photo 2013.
But the devastating impact of the tragedy goes far beyond his physical wounds. For years, Kinan was haunted by flames that would pop up in the distance when he was doing something as simple as walking down the street. “I have what I call daymares,” he says. “I will see something just burst into flames. If I was in the house I’d check. I figured, ‘This isn’t really happening,’ but I’d go over and look [anyway].” Kinan tries his best to avoid situations where he could be triggered – he even filled in the fireplace in his home with stone – but sometimes he’s surprised by it anyway. Like at a Michael Buble concert last November. “He opened the show with the entire stage in flames,” Kinan recalls. “We were sitting eight rows back, and we had that burst of heat come over us like a blanket.” With sweat pouring off his body and his heart racing, Kinan hit the ground, keeping his head down until it was over. Though he still grapples with his fear, the frequency of his “daymares” faded once he found what seemed impossible during his darkest days: love.
Kinan met Carrie Pratt at the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors World Burn Congress in 2007. The two became instant friends. Over the years, their friendship grew and, after Pratt became divorced in January 2010, blossomed into a romance that October at the World Burn Congress in New York City. “A bunch of us went out for dinner for my birthday and he just leaned down and kissed me,” Pratt tells PEOPLE. “He said, ‘I hope that was okay.’ I said, ‘Yeah. It was fine.’ And I just smiled at him.” They were inseparable for the rest of the trip and began a long-distance relationship afterward. “Within the first couple of weeks, I knew I was in love,” she says. He felt the same way. The following September, she moved to Massachusetts, and in October 2012, he proposed. Kinan had thought of everything – he bought her the ring she’d been eyeing in a friend’s jewelry store a few months earlier, mailed it out to her parents’ home in Seattle so he could pop the question in Vancouver, where the 2007 conference was held, and made reservations for them to stay at the hotel where they had first met – but he let Pratt choose the restaurant for dinner that night.
Image Left - Finding love: Rhode Island nightclub fire survivor Joe Kinan is pictured above with his fiance and fellow burn victim Carrie Pratt. But when they walked in, they got an uncomfortable surprise. “The restaurant had candelabras against the back wall,” Pratt says, “and behind the candles were floor-to-ceiling mirrors so it looked like this room … ” ” … was on fire,” Kinan finishes. Somehow, he got through dinner – and the proposal. Having each been married before, they’re in no rush to set a wedding date. But in April, their family became complete with the arrival of their infant daughter. “I was lonely before I met Carrie,” Kinan says. “I wondered if I’d ever be in a relationship again. And I’m determined to be the best dad I can to Hadley.” “When I woke up from my hospital bed and found out what was wrong with me,” he says, “right then and there I said, ‘This is my hand. These are my cards. I’ll just play them the best I can.’ ”
FEBRUARY 25: Gretchen Wilson (right) meets with survivor, Joe Kinan after Phoenix Rising! Musicians United to Benefit the Victims of the Station club disaster.
Numerous violations of existing codes contributed to the calamity, triggering an immediate effort to strengthen fire code protections. Within weeks of the disaster, an emergency meeting was called for the National Fire Protection committe handling code for "assembly occupancies". Based upon its work, Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) were issued for the national standard " Life Safety Code" (NFPA 101), in July 2003. The TIAs required automatic fire sprinklers in all nightclubs and similar locations with 100 or more occupants, plus additional crowd manager personnel, among other things. These TIAs were subsequently incorporated into the 2006 edition of NFPA 101, along with additional exit requirements for new nightclub occupancies. It is left for each state or local jurisdiction to legally enact and enforce the current code changes. On January 16, 2013, Jack Russell scheduled a benefit show in February 2013, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the fire, and announced that all proceeds would go towards the Station Fire Memorial Foundation. Upon hearing of the event, the Foundation asked that its name be removed, stating the animosity still felt by many of the survivors and surviving families. Jack Russell's management has stated that the show would be renamed and that the proceeds would go to another charity.
A permanent memorial at the site of the fire has been erected and named the Station Fire Memorial Park. In August 2016, the site was reported to have been being used as a PokeStop in Pokemon Go, to uproar from victim's families. As a result of this and other similar incidents, fire chiefs, fire marshals and inspectors require trained crowd managers to comply with the International Fire Code, NFPA-101 Life Safety Code, NFPA-1 Fire Code and many local ordinances that address safety in public-assembly occupancies. However, fire professionals have few choices about what training should be provided and are continually updated to incorporate new technologies as well as lessons learned from actual fire experiences.
The Pokemon Go craze has swept the nation, but there have been some unfortunate hiccups that have come for those playing the game and not everyone is happy that gamers have turned up in their vicinity playing the game either. One of the "Pokestops" in the game has sent Pokemon hunters to the site of The Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., which has understandably upset the relatives of those involved in the fire. Upon learning that gamers have been showing up at the spot hunting for Pokemon, Chris Fontaine, whose 22-year-old son Mark was killed on that fateful night, stated, "You're kidding me. It's not a gaming kind of place." Survivor Victoria Eagan added, "That is just so disrespectful. Graveyards and memorial sites especially are meant to honor and respect a certain person or event, not to make light of it." Robert Bruyere, whose stepdaughter Bonnie Hamelin was killed, stated, "For them to use a memorial site, that's just wrong." Fontaine was also upset to learn that in the description inside the game it incorrectly states that 200 people were killed. "At least have your facts straight," he added.
But not all interviewed saw the Pokestop as a bad thing, with Dave Kane, whose 18-year-old son Nicholas O'Neill was the youngest victim in the Station Fire, stating, "If it draws people over there when we open, that would be great." The memorial is set to open to the public in October.
Since the game has been launched, Pokestops have been removed at the atomic bomb memorial park in Hiroshima, Japan and at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. among other sites after complaints were registered.
August 11th 2016 - WEST WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — The site of a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 100 people has been removed as a stop in “Pokemon Go” after an outcry from survivors and victims’ families.
An Associated Press reporter went to the site of the 2003 fire at The Station in West Warwick on Thursday and discovered a Pokestop that was previously there was gone.
Gina Russo is the head of a foundation building a memorial at the site and had asked game developer Niantic earlier this week to remove the stop. She says she’s thrilled it’s gone, especially since the site is under construction and she doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.
What is a Pokestop, Have you, like millions of other gamers, been playing tons of Pokemon Go? If so, you’ve probably noticed the blue pin looking items on the map. In case you didn’t already know, these are Pokestops. They’re actually a hugely important part of the Pokemon Go experience, so you’d better know what to do with them. Well, we’re here to help. Here’s our guide to answer the important questions of what are Pokestops and how to use them. Pokestops are essentially free item drops placed around the world. They are mostly stationed at important cultural spots, such as statues, public buildings, or other types of locations. You should be able to see exactly where the Pokestop is just by tapping on it on your screen. This will give you a handy picture to help direct you where to go.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go exactly to the location, instead just needing to be pretty close to it. Once you are the Pokestop should change shape on your Pokemon Go screen. Spin the circle in the middle and it should load up a selection of random items. Tap these items to add them to your inventory. This should give you a lot of free Pokeballs, potions, and other important items. Afterward the Pokestop should turn purple, indicating that you have used it recently. You can now go to a different Pokestop or wait for this one to refresh. Luckily it should just take about 5 minutes to do so, and you can pop it again for some more free items. You don’t even have to leave the location to do this, just wait for it to refresh. Using Pokestops will totally change your Pokemon Go experience, giving you those all important items that you need to become a Pokemon master.
Albert DiBonaventura was only 18 years old when he sadly passed away inside the Station nightclub on that fateful February night, Albert was a guitar enthusiast who had magic in his hands and fingers, He head the ability to play on his knees or swing the guitar behind his back and play with just the feel and pressure of the strings. His passion for guitars was evident in his parents house and six guitars hang on the wall in one of the rooms, music posters from various rock bands are carefully attached to a wall in another room while carpets display guitar images embroidered into the materials. Albert dreamed of becoming a rock star as he lay on his bed at his parents cream and lightly colored house on Wheeler street north. Albert played guitar in a band called 18 Stars and would be seen playing in Providence clubs around the West Warwick area and another called The Call. A band called Shryne which Nicholas O'Neill was a member were asking him if he could riff with them as they were impressed with his musical skills say's his brother, John "Patrick" Ring, 35, from Plymouth, Mass.
Albert was a dreamer and had much bigger plans to become a rock 'n' roll fantasy that everyone would come and see, He imagined himself moving to California and honing his craft in Los Angeles clubs where he would be rewarded and revered for his talents. His guitar playing was rounded and wide, he liked to play the harder edge of the guitar sound but also loved speed and would play similar to Eddie Van Halen. He would also dig down deep and produce the soulful blues of Jonny Lang and the swing of Brian Setzer. But it wasnt all music for Albert as he planned to study computer graphic and design skills at a college in California. Albert also attended Dighton-Rehoboth school and was learning computer graphics already, he produced the cover for his band's CD and was very determined to succeed.
Eddie Van Halen plays Guitar.
Blues legend Buddy Guy (R) and guitar powerhouse Jonny Lang (L) are teaming up to perform live at the Majestic Theatre on Friday, May 18, 2018.
Brian Setzer reflects on 25 years of the Brian Setzer Orchestra as it prepares to celebrate its anniversary at the Hollywood Bowl
Albert was left handed but that never stopped him from becoming an unstoppable pitcher or a passionate baseball player. John shared something he has written about his brother since the fire: "I can only have faith that Albert is now in a better place, playing the music he loved for the heavens to hear."
Beth Ellen Mosczynski worked for Temp-Flex Cable a Grafton wire and cable company, after graduating from Sutton High School in 1987. She worked herself up the ranks from day one and was dedicated and commited to achieving success within the company. Beth had an inner strength and was always the first person to help out if she saw someone struggling and needing assistance. As time passed Beth's work ethics became more polished and mature resulting in her ability to provide leadership. She had an excellent knack of smoothing over problems and kept her eye on everyone. People that knew Beth described her as "the glue" that bonded friends and brought family together especially on holidays. She was the kind of person who would give you her heart and soul Kim Gamblin said who was a co-worker with Beth. Other friends of Beth spoke of her generous spirit, her love for children and her deep affection for her two sisters. Her death is a great loss to everyone that knew her another close friend said.
Image Above for illustration purposes only - Beth grew up in Sutton and had lived in Millbury for 10 years, After Beth died her office has been left as a remembrance to her. Her profound effect on her employers and co-workers and the loss they now deal with has stopped them from filling Beth's office with a new worker. The desk and computer were removed now replaced with a few plants and a couple of comfortable chairs to provide reflection and thoughts on Beth's life and her personality. It just wouldn't be right to just move someone else in her co-workers said. Beth was also an avid soccer player who enjoyed playing in games with state and town leagues. She was also a longtime NASCAR and New York Giants fan.
Bridget Marie Sanetti, also known as "Bri" was 25 years old when she died in the fatal blaze, Bri was a teacher from Coventry and was very good at her job, She had a natural gift that enabled her to reach out to her students and had a profound effect on them. Her students had varying emotional problems and some were alcoholics who were in the stages or trying to dry out. Bri was a caring person and loved animals, Her cat Lilly was rescued from an animal shelter. James Williams, principal of the small Hillside Alternative School, in Woodsocket remembers Bri with vivid detail, her spirit would reach even the most difficult of students who would come into school with a big attitude, but her smile was all it took to light them up and make them feel better about themselves.
Besides teaching her other love was shopping said her mother Annmarie Swidwa, of Fort Myers Florida, She always shopped at the more expensive stores not because she wanted to spend a fortune on a dress or shoes but to find a bargain that was relatively cheap. On the 20th February 2003 Bri and her friend Katie O'Donnell, 26, of Seekonk attended the Great White event with fun and laughter on there minds. Bri's uncle Ricky Sanetti and some of his friends were also going so it was a great opportunity to all meet up and they did. Sadly Katie also died alongside her friend Bri but her uncle Ricky and his friends managed to escape. Before the show had started some of Bri's friends had criticized her for her choice of clothing as she stood out from the sea of other patrons that wore basic sweatshirts and jeans. She wore high heeled black boots a nice pair of new jeans and plenty of the right kind of jewelry.
Bri wasn't really a super fan or even a great fan of Great White, but she saw the opportunity to have some fun and watch the spectacle of rock stars jamming to tunes two decades old who donned out of style hair doos and leather clothing. Bri had an inbuilt compassion, patience and feistiness that made her a successful mentor for Hillside's at-risk teenagers. Her approach to the real world was mixed with amusement and unpredictability, If one of her students got out of hand, Bri would take that student to a phone and say, You know what? You're gonna have to talk to my mother about your problems, Annmarie who is Bri's mother would answer and say "You had better behave, My daughter turned out good and decent because she listened and knuckled down, You had better behave. The Woonsocket school district's director of special education Elaine Hazzard described Bri as the one who was always smiling, she always smiled in my presence and that of others Elaine said, Bri was absolutely wonderful: young, sweet, caring, intelligent. The kids just truly loved her, and she truly loved the kids."
Charline Elaine Gingras-Fick was not just a professional dog groomer. She was also a Gulf War veteran. So, even when the dog was a real-life "Cujo" -- the rabid St. Bernard in the Stephen King novel -- Charline wouldn't hesitate to give it a bath or shampoo, or trim its toenails, said Tarah James, a coworker at the Petco store in South Attleboro. "She got bit. She got bit several times," said Charline's mother, Lorraine (Paquette) Desrochers. Was she discouraged? "Are you kidding?" Desrochers said. "She couldn't wait to go to work." Charline was one of four children of Edward G. Gingras, who lives in Bellingham, Mass., and Desrochers, who remarried after she and Edward Gingras divorced. She rode a motorcycle at age 14, brought home stray animals while she was growing up in Pawtucket, and went to William M. Davies Jr. Career and Technical High School in Lincoln, where she learned cabinet-making.
In 1988, a year after she finished at the Pedigree Professional School of Dog Grooming in Lynn, Mass., she enlisted in the Army and became a diesel mechanic. "In other words," said Desrochers, "she was a tomboy from day one." Specialist Gingras took part in Operation Desert Storm, repairing Jeeps, trucks and Humvees. While she was in the Army, she married another soldier, Larry Fick, of Merrill, Mich. After they divorced, she and Fick agreed to share in the upbringing of their two children, Samantha, 12, and William, 10. Each parent would have custody for seven years. In 1995, Charline moved back to Rhode Island and went into the dog-grooming business. She bought a two-family house in Central Falls and had her mother and stepfather, Henry D. Desrochers, move in downstairs so the children would have someone to look after them while she was working. Samantha and William have been back with their father since September.
Charline worked the 1 to 9 p.m. shift at Petco that Thursday night, then went with a friend to The Station. She wasn't in the nightclub more than five minutes, Desrochers said, when the fire broke out.
On January 16, 1991, President George H. W. Bush announced the start of what would be called Operation Desert Storm—a military operation to expel occupying Iraqi forces from Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded and annexed months earlier. For weeks, a U.S.-led coalition of two dozen nations had positioned more than 900,000 troops in the region, most stationed on the Saudi-Iraq border. A U.N.-declared deadline for withdrawal passed on January 15, with no action from Iraq, so coalition forces began a five-week bombardment of Iraqi command and control targets from air and sea. Despite widespread fears that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein might order the use of chemical weapons, a ground invasion followed in February. Coalition forces swiftly drove Iraq from Kuwait, advancing into Iraq, and reaching a cease-fire within 100 hours—controversially leaving Saddam Hussein in power. While coalition casualties were in the hundreds, Iraqi losses numbered in the tens of thousands.
French soldiers from the Foreign Legion Infantry regiment in the Saudi desert near Hafr al-Batin, wear full chemical warfare equipment during a training session during the Gulf War on October 26, 1990.
A crowd estimated in the tens of thousands makes its way down Market Street in San Francisco, on January 19, 1991, while protesting the United States attack on Iraq and Kuwait. #
Eric Risberg / AP
French special-forces commandos capture Iraqi soldiers somewhere in Iraqi desert on February 26, 1991. #Mike Nelson / AFP / Getty
An Iraqi tank goes up in flames after being hit by a TOW missile fired from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, in Iraq on February 27, 1991. #
Tannen Maury / AP
A Kuwaiti helicopter herds Iraqi prisoners of war, arms in the air, across a stream in southeastern Kuwait, on February 25, 1991. #
Three British soldiers in full combat and gas gear wait for the all-clear signal in a hotel lobby in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, during a Scud attack on February 26, 1991. The three wait under the portraits of the present and former Saudi monarchs. #
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
A wounded Ken Kozakiewicz, left, cries after being given the dogtags and learning of the death of a fellow tank crewman, in the bodybag at right, in this February 28, 1991 photo. The widely published photo came to define the Persian Gulf war for many. At right is wounded comrade Michael Santarakis. The soldiers were from the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division. #
David Turnley / AP
U.S. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, left, escorts Iraqi Lt. General Sultan Hashim Ahmad, third from left, with other Iraqi military leaders to a tent prior to the start of a meeting to set the terms for a permanent ceasefire. The meeting took place at an airbase in Safwan, Iraq, on March 3, 1991. #
U.S. soldiers returning from the Gulf make telephone calls at New York's Kennedy Airport on March 8, 1991. The soldiers, tired after their 14-hour flight via Rome, flashed “victory” signs as they stepped off planes to the sound of cheering airline employees, and an Army band that played “God Bless America.” #
A long line of vehicles, including destroyed Iraqi Army Russian-made T-62 tanks and trucks stand abandoned by fleeing Iraqi troops on the outskirts of Kuwait City, on March 1, 1991, after the Allied troops liberated the capital of Kuwait. #
Pascal Guyot / AFP / Getty
A Fighter Squadron 114 (VF-114) F-14A Tomcat aircraft flies over an oil well set ablaze by Iraqi troops during Operation Desert Storm. #
U.S. Department of Defense / Lt. Steve Gozzo
The effects of Iraqi troops setting fire to the oil wells in Kuwait during February 1991, is captured in this near-vertical photograph of the northwestern end of the Persian Gulf taken on April 7, 1991. The black smoke plumes of more than 700 individual oil-well fires are being blown by the wind. Kuwait City is visible at center-left (north is to the right in this rotated image). #
Geysers of flame and thick, toxic smoke spew forth on March 10, 1991, from just a few of the hundreds of Kuwaiti oil wells set afire by fleeing Iraqi troops. #
Greg Gibson / AP
Red Adair’s fire-fighting crews at work on April 1, 1991, beside a blown-out well damaged by retreating Iraqi soldiers in Al-Ahmadi oil field in southern Kuwait. #
Pascal Guyot / AFP / Getty
If you ever saw the garden at Christina DiRienzo's house in Plymouth, Mass you would discover that it was filled with an abundance of delicately shaded red and crimson flowers that would draw the hummingbirds that she loved so dearly. Christina also had green fingers and enjoyed growing her own tomatoes and peppers which she canned for later consumption or to give away to friends and family. Christina's lived with her companion, Russell Tripp whom she had known since high school in Wareham. The garden was a full acre in size which allowed them space to keep three goats, several cats, and other animals. When she was not gardening or looking after her animals Christina loved to attend country and western dancing events, she would dance away to the oldies and classics. Christina and her companion Russell would also go to dances at Redman's Hall in Wareham, often joining her mother, Patricia Pina, and her mother's husband, John.
Image Above for Illustration purposes only.
Patricia says she would often dance with her daughter: Christina would say, 'Come on, Mom, this is our song.' " Their songs included classics like Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" and "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. Sometimes Christina and her mother would have occasional house parties at Patricia's house. The pair would also spend quiet Thursday nights with Christina's sister Terry Rakoski and Patricia's sister in law. Christina previously lived in Kentucky with her then husband Peter and there two sons, Peter and Beau, for eight years Christina's mother missed her daughter everyday and only managed to visit her and the family once before they came back, Patricia pined for her daughters company and wished that she would come back with her. Christina was also trying to catch up with her sister, Terry. The two went to The Station together -- Patricia said heavy metal was Terry's interest, not Tina's. The night was a regular get-together with the girls, Patricia said. The two were supposed to go with three other friends, but only one joined them, Kristine Carbone, Terry's neighbor in Taunton. All three women died in the fire.
Image Above - Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs
Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Rader was considered a veteran of Great White shows as he had toured with the band as a sound technician, Rader of Danville loved music, M&Ms, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but above all he loved his new girlfriend, a 24 year old Rhode Island woman named Becky. Jeff collected rock band memorabilia, and had collected more than 1500 t-shirts, posters, photo's and autographs. He loved playing drums, rock climbing, biking, and was a caring and loving son, brother, grandson and friend. Jeff worked for over 10 years with his best friend/business partner Duane Serfass in I-Wear Graphics & Tour Promotions doing logo designs, cover artwork, t-shirts and web designs. He frequently worked as a crew-member for rock bands, including Tesla, Great White, Moon Dog Mane, Poison, Ratt, Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent over the last ten years of his life. In a twist of sadness Rader had decided to take his girlfriend to the Station nightclub that Thursday to meet the band. Friends of Rader say that he died a hero from the moment the stage caught on fire as he tried his very best to signal and help people to exit the club. The video that was shot by Brian Butler for an ironic piece on public safety clearly shows Rader turning from the stage and raising his hands high while pointing to an exit, Rader was a veteran of Great White shows and immediately understood that the flames were not part of the show, but a dangerous mistake say's Raders best friend, Duane Serfass who was 30 and from Fairfax at the time.
Image Above - Moon Dog Mane.
Image Above - Gwendolyn made a cake for the band Poison when they came to perform on June 25, 2017 at Klipsch Music Center. Thank you to Bret Michaels, Bobby Dall, C.C. Deville & Rikki Rocket for the great show. These are some of the kindest gentlemen and thank you to Kelley Milligan of Center Stage Events. She is one of the most amazing cooks who feeds hundreds of people as she tours with some of the world’s best bands. Thank you for the best seat in the house, on stage.
The Great American Rock Band Tesla.
Duane also explains that band members told Rader's older brother Ralph that Rader had escaped the building but had returned to try and find his girlfriend. Raders girlfriend sadly perished in the inferno and had been identified but Rader had not. Raders parents quickly arrived in Rhode island to gather information on there loved one. Rader had met his girlfriend Becky on the East Coast while touring with the Sacramento band Tesla, he left Danville a week previous to the Great White show to Rhode island to visit Becky. His best friend was scheduled to pick him up from San Francisco International Airport on Monday afternoon, instead he was grieving. Duanne his friend had a bad feeling about Jeff after seeing the fire unfold on television, he repeatedly called Rader's cell phone but there was never an answer. Duanne was none to surprised when he heard that his friend had died, because of his personality Jeff would most likely of re-entered the building to try and save others. He would have run in for anybody he thought was left in there," Duanne said. "He is so giving. I can see it in his eyes, in the video he's just standing there like a rock in a sea of madness. He's pointing people to the exit, he's not running out."
Rader was born and raised in Danville and when he was 4, decided he liked the Steelers because of their black and gold colors, said Marne Orrey, a former girlfriend who remained close with him. "He had a childlike quality within him, people wanted to be around him, he had so much energy," said Orrey, 30, of San Francisco. "He wanted to be with the bands that he grew up listening to." Orrey and others described Rader as an attractive man who stood about 5 foot 10, wore glasses over pretty blue eyes and wore his hair long -- a look that belied his gentleness. Rader was a musician -- a drummer who played in garage bands but who preferred being beside the stage rather than in the middle of it, Serfass said. He loved cartoons, Coca Cola and the rock band Kiss. He would buy any merchandise with an M&M or Steelers logo on it. In 1990, he got a job managing a pizza parlor called Garlex in Danville, said Gary Martinez, who has since sold that store but operates another in Blackhawk.
For seven years, Rader worked at the restaurant full-time, never taking a sick day.
"I can't even say I did that, and I'm the owner," Martinez said with a laugh. It was around 1990 that Rader met Serfass, who worked late nights in the screen printing shop next door. The artistic Rader submitted T-shirt designs to Serfass, and in return offered free pizza slices and soda. Soon, they had launched a company called Iwear, One of Rader's designs was a top-selling T-Shirt for Tesla on its last tour. In the ensuing years, Rader would call Martinez when he wasn't touring with bands --Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper among them, and work in the shop. But touring with the bands was his life. "Jeff died doing what he loved to do," Martinez said. "He was living his dream."
Image Above - Ted Nugent
John Michael Longiaru's short 23 year life was tragically cut short in the infamous fire at 'The Station' night club on the night of Thursday, February 20, 2003. What started as a night of fun and music with his fiancée, fiancee's brother and his date, and 2 friends, ended when the headlining band, 'Great White', foolishly used pyrotechnics in the small, old building.
John was a 1996 graduate of Johnston High School and attended Eastern Connecticut State University, Community College of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island College. He was an avid reader of fantasy stories and philosophy. He was a big fan of Lord of the Rings. He also enjoyed video games, music, and socializing with his friends. John had been working for PARI in Pawtucket, a resource for independent living. He was responsible for coordinating and marketing donated medical equipment that is refurbished and sold at reduced cost by PARI. John was an enigmatic person who was enamored by everyone he met. He was patient, kind, funny, extremely loving, inspiring, and full of life. Besides his parents, John and Sus, he leaves a brother, Joshua A. Longiaru, his fiancée, Melanie Fontaine, his paternal grandparents, Ezio and Maria "Amy" Longiaru, and his maternal grandmother, Barbara F. Weston, all of Johnston; and several aunts, uncles, cousins, friends,and Cassie. John was born on 21 Jun 1979 Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA and buried at Saint Ann Cemetery - Cranston, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA.
Rivendell Lord of the Rings waterfall cinemagraphic.
The Eye of Sauron [Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,
Kevin R. Washburn ~ March 14, 1972 - February 20, 2003
Kevin R. Washburn's quiet, introspective personality belied his splashy hard-rock image. Long-haired and usually clad in a leather jacket, Kevin, 30, was kind and easygoing, reluctant to draw attention to himself. "He was a quiet guy, but very friendly," says his sister Sharon Washburn, sitting in the living room of the house in Franklin, Mass., where Kevin lived with his mother, Rina. "Everybody just really loved Kevin." "We've gotten calls from his old friends and girlfriends, people he worked with, even from people he went to kindergarten with. It's been one right after the other," said his mother, her eyes welling with tears. "It's been just amazing. It makes me glad to get the calls, makes me feel like I did a good job."
Kevin, who worked for four years in the shipping department of SourceOne, a national distribution center in Hopkinton, Mass., had a separate circle of friends for each of his favorite activities: rock concerts, playing music, watching the Boston Bruins or NASCAR.
He went to the Great White show with his longtime best friend Michael Stefani of North Kingstown, who escaped the fire. Kevin, a 1990 graduate of Franklin High School, had an associate's degree from New England Institute of Technology. He loved art and played electric guitar, got tattoos and named his yellow Labrador puppy "Harley" because strangers sometimes called out, "Hey, Harley" when he went out. "I used to joke around with him, saying 'But Kevin, you don't even ride a motorcycle,' " his sister said. He would sometimes spend all day drawing finely detailed pen-and-ink illustrations. A handsomely-sketched picture of a cheetah standing in tall, waving grass, one of his works, is displayed in the living room.
The Boston Bruins
"I thought that he bought it at first," his mother says with pride. She said her son was planning on going back to school to study design. Because he spent much of his time concentrating on just-so details, Kevin would argue playfully when someone was imprecise. "Sometimes I'd call home and ask to talk to Mom. Kevin would ask, 'Who's calling?' " recalls his sister. "When I'd say, 'C'mon, it's me,' I'd hear him yell over to her, 'Mom, there's a "me" that wants to talk to you.' He'd do stuff like that all the time." "He would always tease," says his mother, smiling. "He was so silly sometimes." Kevin was the best of buddies with Sharon's son, Kamaron. A dutiful uncle to the 11-year-old, he had been teaching Kamaron how to play chords on the guitar. And although Kevin was never really into sports growing up, he grew to love playing in the co-ed Franklin softball league that Sharon, who lives in town, organized about three years ago. "He'd say, 'Ma, I wish you could have seen the game today. I got a double; you should have seen this double,' " Rina recalls. "He was so excited. . . . "
"Oh, he was so good," she says. "Even as a baby he was always smiling and sweet."