The two owners of Rhode Island’s The Station nightclub and the former tour manager for the heavy metal band Great White were indicted yesterday on 600 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of 100 people in the worst fire in state history. The Providence Journal reports that as the 177-page indictment against Jeffrey A. and Michael A. Derderian and Daniel M. Biechele was unsealed, Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch held an emotional and often angry meeting with survivors and victim families.
Several at the meeting expressed outrage that town inspectors were not charged for failing to call attention to problems that contributed to last February’s fire. Said Lynch: “We can’t provide all the answers to families. We can’t indict just to please.”
Jeffrey Derderian’s lawyer, Jeffrey Pine, said the club never authorized the pyrotechnics and that there is no basis for charging the Derderians. “The people who should be held accountable are the people who lit the fire,” he said.
Paul Wertheimer, a Chicago-based expert on concert crowd safety, agreed that more people should be held accountable. “I was surprised the band was not indicted in this case,” Wertheimer said. “The whole tragedy took place on their stage. They were the reason everyone was there. They designed the theatrics and should have known the risks that occurred that night. And I would have liked to know what were the roles of public-safety officials and government interests who were not indicted.”