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Staten Island Ferry Crash

The probe into the horrific crash in October of a Staten Island ferry is focusing on whether its pilot fell unconscious while the vessel was crossing New York Harbor. Law enforcement sources said the pilot fled and tried to commit suicide after the accident, which killed 10 people and injured 60 others. This MSNBC reports on the investigation into the cause of the accident and looked back at transportation accidents in the past where human error was involved. -- from NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw at MSNBC

Staten Island Ferry crash claims 11th victim

December 16, 2003 NEW YORK -- An 11th victim of the Staten Island Ferry crash died of her injuries Tuesday, two months after the vessel smashed into a pier. Debra Castro, 39, lost one leg and part of the other, and also suffered a broken arm, a severed ear and pelvic injuries. She had been hospitalized and heavily sedated since the October 15 wreck. -- Associated Press story at CNN

Indictments by Grand Jury in Station Fire

December 9, 2003 -- The grand jury took more than 9 months to complete the investigation into the fire that raged through the crowded West Warwick, Rhode Island nightclub last February 20, 2003. Some surviving family members had been pressuring for indictments against the band, Great White, whose pyrotechnic display ignited soundproofing material on the nightclub's ceiling. The deadly fire spread in seconds, and the nightclub was completely engulfed by fire in minutes.

The investigation is now complete, and three indictments have been handed down against two of the club owners, brothers
Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, and against Great White's tour manager Dan Biechele, who lit the pyrotechnic display. Each were charged with 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter with criminal negligence, and 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter in violation of a misdemeanor.

The Station nightclub fire is judged to have been the fourth deadliest in US history, with 200 people injured in addition to 100 dead.
Great White's lead guitarist, Ty Longley, also died in the fire.

Crushed at the Epiphany: "One man says he woke up in a body bag because paramedics thought he was dead."

21 Trampled, Killed at the Ephiphany
February  19, 2003 Security guards using pepper spray to break up a fight in an illegal nightclub in Chicago triggered a stampede that killed 21 people and injured more than 50, police said yesterday. -- The Age
United States authorities say there were a number of fire code violations in a Chicago nightclub where 21 people were killed and many more injured in a stampede.
There were several doors either locked or blocked at the Epitome nightclub on Chicago's near south side, which was filled to capacity.
People were crushed and trampled when they rushed towards exit points after security guards used a mace or pepper spray to break up a fight.
One man says he woke up in a body bag because paramedics thought he was dead.
The club, in an entertainment district south of downtown Chicago, was crowded as party goers stayed out before dawn on Monday's Presidents Day holiday. -- ABC

Disasters in Time
-- On this page
  • Staten Island Ferry Crash
  • Epiphany Nightclub Stampede
  • The Station Nightclub Fire
  • Pyrotechnics & the Law


Disaster in New York Harbor

June 15, 1904, a day meant for sunshine and picnics, is the date of one of the most senseless disasters in maritime history.

With almost 1,400 people on board, most of them women and children, a fire broke out on a paddlewheel steamboat.

At least some of them might have been saved, but for useless fire-fighting equipment and the refusal of the boat's captain to put to shore to allow passengers to escape. Though it was never far from shore, a thousand lost their lives during the half-hour ordeal.

Read about how this terrible disaster which claimed more than a thousand lives occurred, and how those who were responsible never saw justice in Disaster in New York Harbor.

Where did Great White get their Pyrotechnic display?
Did they buy it, or did they make it?
It's not as difficult as you might think to make your own:
Plans show 23 pyrotechnical projects ranging from aerial shells to cherry bombs. This information shows class B and C material and is only available to hobbyist 21 years and older requiring a copy of your drivers license when purchasing. Check with your local law enforcement before implementing this data.
'Pyro' Likely To Cease Lighting Up Shows

Bill Aucoin, who manages Flipp, managed glam-rock pioneer KISS during its infancy and early heyday, from 1973 to 1982. Pyrotechnics were a foundation of every show, he says, at a time when the technology was far more inexact.

"In the early days, we just did anything that came to mind," he said. "We were always very cautious about it,and we always thought we could handle it, even if we didn't know what it was about."

He recalls the night fire-spitting bassist Gene Simmons introduced lit flash paper into his act. Instead of tossing it into the air, where it would burn out within seconds, he tossed it into the audience, where it "singed a guy's eyebrows."

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