Wednesday, February 20, 2013

10 Years Ago Today

I remember hearing about this as we were preparing the John Landecker show on WJMK. A terrible, terrible story. I had a few good friends in Providence at the time who had worked in radio--and thankfully neither of them were at this show. I hadn't kept up with what happened to the perpetrators, but Bob Dearborn has all of that information in The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac this morning...

February 20, 2003…The fourth-deadliest fire in U.S. history killed 100 people and injured 230 at The Station, a rock 'n' roll nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Ty Longley, guitarist for headliners Great White, was one of the victims. The fire started with sparks from a pyrotechnic display which ignited flammable sound insulation foam in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage. The display was a gimmick used by Great White and in this case was set off by their road manager, Daniel Biechele. He and the two owners of the nightclub were charged with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter, two per death. The owners, Jeffrey A. and Michael A. Derderian, were also fined $1.07 million for failing to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees.

In May 2006 after pleading guilty, Biechele was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with four to serve and 11 years suspended, plus three years probation. Biechele was released from prison on March 19, 2008.

After changing 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, and Jeffrey Derderian received a 10-year suspended sentence, three years probation, and 500 hours of community service. Michael Derderian was released from prison in June 2009, receiving time off for good behavior.