On February 20, 2003, a catastrophic fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, killed 100 people and injured more than 200 others. In May of this year, the surviving victims and their families came together to honor their memories at the opening of a memorial park.
The Station Fire Memorial Park, standing on the same site as the catastrophic fire, was formally opened Sunday, May 21, at a gathering of 500 survivors, family members, and community leaders. In addition to multiple gardens and a courtyard, the one-acre park includes stone monuments inscribed with the names and birthdays of each victim.
The Station fire was the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, with former Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri describing it as the “state’s worst tragedy.” As AAJ member and Rhode Island attorney Mark Mandell explains, “Rhode Island is a small state; there aren’t that many degrees of separation among its residents, and the fire just devastated Rhode Island and people from surrounding states as well.”
Mandell’s firm, Mandell, Schwartz, & Boisclair, Ltd., teamed up with other plaintiff firms to lead the litigation in the civil case surrounding the fire. The case served to provide a sense of closure that the victims and their families weren’t able to receive from criminal prosecution. The fire forever changed the lives of those involved; in a positive way, so did the lawsuit.
The opening of the memorial park is another step toward that closure.
Spearheaded by the Station Fire Memorial Foundation and a woman named Gina Russo, a client of Mandell’s who lost her fiancé and suffered severe injuries in the fire, the opening of the memorial park involved more than a decade of planning and difficult fundraising. In the end, several different groups came together to support the cause. The memorial park now serves as a beautiful place to remember those who were lost.
To make a donation toward continued maintenance of the Station Fire Memorial Park, please visit: http://www.thestationfirememorialfoundation.org/.