Families, Survivors Mark Anniversary Of R.I. Nightclub Fire

Sunday, February 18th 2007, 4:11 pm
By: News On 6

WEST WARWICK, R.I. (AP) _ Much has changed since the last anniversary of The Station nightclub fire _ a 2003 blaze sparked by pyrotechnics for the '80s rock band Great White that killed 100 people.

Criminal prosecutions have been resolved. Relatives of those killed spoke of their sorrow in court. Reams of grand jury testimony detailing the frightening first moments of the disaster were unsealed.

Still, as family and friends gathered Sunday to remember those lost in the tragedy, the grief was still fresh.

``It never ends,'' said John Richmond, whose daughter, Kelly Vieira, 40, died in the fire. ``It's not something I can shut off like a faucet.''

On Sunday afternoon, about 250 people attended the service that included music, an invocation, a recitation of the victims' names and 100 seconds of silence.

``People who can even keep their emotions at bay a good part of the year pretty much let it out on the anniversary,'' Chris Fontaine, whose 22-year-old-son, Mark, died in the fire, said in a recent interview.

This past year, the Great White tour manager and the club's two owners pleaded guilty and no contest, respectively, to charges of involuntary manslaughter. The band manager and one of the owners received sentences of four years in prison. The other owner got a suspended sentence, probation and community service.

``Many families may have lost some of sense of hope after the outcome of the criminal cases,'' Jessica Garvey, whose sister, Dina DeMaio, was among the victims, told the crowd.

Jody King, a longtime friend of the club owners whose brother, Tracy, was a club bouncer who died in the fire, said that while the loss remains raw, he did not want to relive the gory details of that night through a trial.

``We've heard it, we've lived it, we're sick of it,'' King said.