Survivors, victims’ families mark Station fire anniversary

WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — It’s been 16 years since the Station nightclub fire, but for the survivors and the families of the 100 victims, the pain is still raw. Many of them visited the Station Fire Memorial Wednesday night to pay tribute.

“To see the stone monument for Jimmy and reflect back on the good times that we had together,” said David Accetta, a friend of one of the victims, James Gooden.

Gina Russo, who led the effort to make the memorial a reality nearly two years ago, escaped the deadly inferno, but her boyfriend didn’t.

I asked her what sticks out the most about that night. “The chaos. Why? Why did it happen? I know how it happened, but what are the whys, like why did I survive it? I’m fortunate, I’m blessed, I’m glad that I did,” said Russo.

This is the first year there hasn’t been a formal ceremony on February 20th, but Russo says that’s okay.

“I think it’s time for people to just come here and gather and remember, not to make it a big spectacular event all the time,” said Russo.

David Accetta lost his friend and Army buddy Jimmy Gooden in the fire, which happened while he was on his way to Kuwait.

“I didn’t know too many details, and I ran into a reporter from the Providence Journal in Kuwait, and he emailed me a list of the victims, and that’s how I learned that I’d lost my friend,” said Accetta.

He’s honoring Gooden’s memory by taking part in Paws from the Heart. The nonprofit brought therapy dogs to the memorial all day to help ease people’s pain.

“It’s been a huge impact, a lot of people are very grateful to have the animals here,” said Susan Parker of Paws from the Heart.

“Jimmy would be happy knowing that people were here and helping other people to feel better about their loss,” said Accetta.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2019