The Station

 

station fire 1

 

"Don't you make fun of me!" she shouted at the super market customers who walked past her. People came and went, some gawking, some ignoring, some just glancing our way. A spilled gallon of milk rested between her legs, a bag of groceries sat next to her, filled with what she had planned to be the ingredients for a "nice night." A 1/2 gallon of ice cream, some steaks, a can of veggies and some boil in bag rice packages were supposed to be put together for her and her man. Fate intervened. "A friend" offered to "split a pint."

"Joann, why did you do it?"

"To kill my pain."

Last week I found her at Kennedy Plaza, unconscious at Bus Stop K. We get a lot of drunks there, usually homeless men, worn out from life on the streets. A blond, young woman stood out, even lying down. She stirred when I shook her but was unable to get up, or even get on the stretcher. We lifted her, she struggled. Somehow during the struggle her shirt and bra lifted, exposing her torso. 80% of her body had been burned, badly. Her breasts were there, but instead of smooth skin and nipples something that resembled wet particle board had taken its place. Any nourishment or pleasure that may have come from her body burned away.

She lay in the stretcher, covered now by a few sheets but still semi-conscious. I sat in the Captains Chair and watched her sleep. The fire spared her face, but her hair had to be carefully combed to hide the bald spots where the grafts prohibited new growth. She was pretty, troubled and scarred, emotionally and physically.

The people continued to stream in and out of the store. Normal people doing normal things. Things Joanne should be doing, rather than drinking a pint with another desperate soul at five in the afternoon.

"I have to take you to the hospital."

"Can't I go home?"

"You're drunk and high. I don't think so."

We helped her to the truck. She managed to stay upright in on the bench seat. She told me her address.

"Is anybody home?"

"My man."

"Will he be mad if I take you home like this?"

"A little."

They would have let her ice cream melt if I took her to the hospital.

And thrown away her dinner.

And her man would wonder where she was.

And I think she has suffered enough.

I took her home.

All the money in the world won't give back what was taken from the survivors of The Station Fire.

May they find peace, finally, and those who did not survive, may they rest in peace.

Thursday, February 20th, 2003

Louis S. Alves
Kevin Anderson
Stacie Angers
Christopher Arruda
Eugene Avilez
Tina Ayer
Karla Bagtaz
Mary H. Baker
Thomas Barnett
Laureen Beauchaine
Steven Thomas Blom
William Christopher Bonardi
Kristine Carbone
Richard A. Cabral, Jr.
William Cartwright
Edward B. Corbet III
Michael Cordier
Alfred Crisostomi
Robert Croteau
Lisa D'Andrea
Matthew P. Darby
Dina Ann DeMaio
Albert Anthony DiBonaventura
Rachel DePietro (Florio)
Christina DiRienzo
Kevin J. Dunn
Lori K. Durante
Edward Ervanian
Thomas Fleming
Rachael K. Florio-DePietro
Mark A. Fontaine
Chief Petty Officer Daniel Frederickson
Michael Fresolo
James Gahan
Melvin Gerfin
Laura Gillet
Charline Elaine Gingras-Fick
Michael James Gonsalves
James Gooden
Derek Gray
Pamela Gruttadauria
Scott "Skott" Greene
Scott Griffith
Bonnie L. Hamelin
Jude Henault
Andrew Hoban
Abbie L. Hoisington
Michael Hoogasian
Sandy Hoogasian
Carlton "Bud" Howorth III
Eric James Hyer
Derek Brian Johnson
Lisa Kelly
Tracy F. King
Michael Joseph Kulz
Keith Lapierre
Dale Latulippe
Stephen M. Libera
John M. Longiaru
Ty Longley
Andrea Mancini
Keith A. Mancini
Steven Mancini
Judith Manzo
Thomas Marion, Jr.
Jeffery Martin
Tammy Mattera-Housa
Kristen McQuarrie
Thomas Medeiros
Samuel Miceli
Donna M. Mitchell
Leigh Ann Moreau
Ryan M. Morin
Jason Morton
Katherine O'Donnell
Nicholas O'Neill
Matthew James Pickett
Carlos L. Pimentel Sr.
Christopher Prouty
Jeffrey Rader
Teresa Rakoski
Robert L. Reisner III
Walter Rich
Donald Roderiques
Tracey Romanoff
Joseph Rossi
Bridget Sanetti
Rebecca "Becky" Shaw
Dennis Smith
Mitchell Shubert
Victor Stark
Benjamin Suffoletto
Linda Suffoletto
Shawn Sweet
Jason Sylvester
Sarah Jane Telgarsky
Kelly Viera
Kevin Washburn
Everett "Tommy" Woodmansee
Robert Daniel Young

Sincere condolences to the families, from a Providence Firefighter.

4 Comments

  • Bob Lincoln says:

    Good judgment, as usual, Mike, the right thing to do.

  • cooterbfd says:

    (sigh) God bless the victims, people out enjoying the American dream of enjoying the fruits of their labor. May they rest in peace.

  • Pat Blackman/Grandma Muggle says:

    Thanks Michael.  Katherine O'Donnell was a young cousin of ours.
     
    Our daughter, Elaine and our nephew, Stephen were supposed to attend that night but each of them had a child who had gotten sick and they opted to stay home with the children.  I never thought I would give thanks for sicxk children!
    Some of our friends lost realtives also.
    I pray we never see the like of that horrible blaze again!
    So many fire fighters, EMTs and medical people were magnificent in their efforts and there care.  God bless all of them and you too.

  • Mr618 says:

    For years, I have believed the best way to honor those who died or were injured in such disasters is to update building codes to reflect new or previously ignored dangers. Such enforcement has to be vigorous, fair, and impartial, and must hurt — seriously hurt — the violators, especially repeat or wilfull violators. Roughly 100 years before The Station, 600 people — mostly women and children — died at the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago, yet in that intervening century, it appears we learned little and quickly forgot what we did learn (see, for instance, Cocoanut Grove, Beverly Hills Supper Club, Rhythm Club, et al ad nauseam). Eliminate the practice of "grandfathering" structures, especially those used as public assemblies. Make life safety a higher priority than campaign donations. And, for Gods sake, FUND inspectors' positions!

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Michael Morse

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I am a Paramedic and my wife is from Burrillville RI, and we live outside of Charlottesville, VA. I really enjoy reading your column and I am glad that someone is actually posting the stories, both good and bad about our profession. Next time I am in RI I would love to come by and…
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What an exceptional article written by a man who has truly 'been there' and that has but one purpose in mind: to herp his brothers and sisters deal with the demons that some of them are wrestling with. Please, if you are wrestling with problems of addiction, stress, or personal strife, pick up a telephone…
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