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The Station Nightclub Owners Launch Station Education Fund

By Newsferatu, Writer
Friday, July 20, 2007 @ 5:06 AM


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Eric Tucker has cronicled for the Associated Press, the Rhode Island tragedy since the beginning and filed this report:

The owner of a nightclub where a fire killed 100 people said he knows many in this tiny state remain furious at him for the 2003 blaze, but he will remain in Rhode Island and work to help the families of victims and survivors.

"I'm not going to tell you there aren't some days that I don't think about" leaving Rhode Island, Jeffrey Derderian said Thursday in his first news conference since two days after the fire that began when a rock band's pyrotechnics ignited flammable foam insulation. "But it goes away."

Derderian and his brother were the target of vitriol after the fire at The Station nightclub in neighboring West Warwick _ an anger that grew when they pleaded no contest last fall to 100 counts each of involuntary manslaughter, avoiding a trial and receiving sentences that some felt were too lenient. Eight of the victims either lived or worked in Connecticut.

The February 20, 2003, blaze started when fireworks for the rock band Great White ignited flammable foam that lined the walls of the nightclub. The one-story wooden roadhouse quickly turned into an inferno, with flames burning the foam and emitting toxic smoke. Two hundred people were injured.

Derderian received a suspended sentence with probation and community service. His brother, Michael, was sent to prison for four years. Great White tour manager Daniel Biechele pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for setting off the pyrotechnics without a permit. He also was sentenced to four years in prison.

Jeffrey Derderian said Thursday his brother had a rough time in prison at first, but was doing better. Michael Derderian was disciplined late last year for having an unauthorized visit at the auto body shop where he was serving work release.

The Derderian families and the family of Derderian friend Jody King, whose brother died in the fire, announced on Thursday the details of a charity to benefit the more than 75 children who lost a parent in the blaze.

They said the Station Education Fund would cover expenses such as tutoring, books, field trips and athletic equipment. It also is encouraging colleges and universities to waive tuition for the children.

Jeff Derderian also offered help to those injured and the families of those killed with the slew of lawsuits that were filed against dozens of defendants, including foam manufacturers, the state of Rhode Island, and the member of Great White.


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