Posts Tagged ‘West Warwick’

It was February 20, 2003. A late Thursday night concert had gone horribly bad in West Warwick,  RI. I’m usually a sound sleeper, but for some reason I awoke at 4am that next morning and turned on the television. Horrific images greeted early morning news viewers. I could not believe what was before my eyes. The news reports at the early stages of this tragedy were stating somewhere in the ballpark of 19 dead, as I remember. My fellow colleagues/photographers Matt Stone and Robert Eng had already been down there for many hours. I would soon join them with a bevy of reporters, some who had also been there overnight. Once there, I took up a position where a Rhode Island state trooper told me to go. I was happy to see my friend Curtis Bailey, a  Tv videographer. We were told that the victim count was now at 30. One of the first things that I noticed was the caring response by the fire and police officials who had the grim task of bringing out one, after another of the victims. After each person was carried out, a small semi-circle of officials would huddle and say a prayer. After about 35 of these prayer vigils, I turned to Curtis and said something to the effect of: “Wow, I think that’s more than the 30 or so (victims) that we had thought.” Curtis answered me by saying that his reporter, I believe to have been Amalia Barreda, had said she now heard the count was at a staggering 50. The Station Nightclub fire victim count grew to 100. Below are three of my photos from that morning. 

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I knew something was wrong when I awoke from my sleep the morning of February 20, 2003. When I flipped on the television every network news channel was broadcasting the same crude photos and videos showing some type of escape from a burning building. I was stunned to find out the early fatality stats on this fire. First it was nine dead, then 12 dead. It would eventually reach a staggering number of 100 people who went to the West Warwick, R.I. nightclub that night never to return. I was dispatched to the scene by the Boston Herald photo desk morning editor Arthur Pollock. Staffers Matt Stone and Robert Eng had already been there in the very early morning hours and done yeoman’s work. I remember standing next to WCVB cameraman Curtis Bailey as we trained our lenses on the first responders trying to locate victims. I looked at him after about 20 minutes of seeing body bag after body bag coming out of the burned out shell of a building and in disbelief said: “Curtis, this has to be more fatalities than the 20 that (the authorities) had stated.” He said: “Mark, it’s up to 30 according (his) reporter.” I also remember feeling sympathy for not only the victims and the victims’ families, but also for the brave first responders who were seeing “battlefield” type numbers in that hell hole. here are three of the many photos I snapped that morning.

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