GREAT WHITE Concert Death Toll Reduced By One

February 27, 2003

The death toll in last week's nightclub fire in Rhode Island was reduced by one to 96, and all the victims have been identified, the governor said Thursday.

Gov. Don Carcieri said the final toll was determined after the medical examiner finished examining all the remains. It wasn't immediately clear what caused the discrepancy.

The announcement came hours after a federal agency that investigates building disasters said it was launching a formal probe into the blaze that erupted Feb. 20 at The Station nightclub in West Warwick.

The fire rapidly engulfed the club after the rock band GREAT WHITE set off a pyrotechnic display, sending hundreds of concertgoers rushing to the exits.

"When the doctor, the medical examiner completed all of the work, and you have to understand this is painstaking work ... it was in fact 96 (dead),and we have identified all of them," the governor said.

Meanwhile, surviving members of GREAT WHITE talked to Rhode Island police yesterday at the scene of the deadly nightclub fire that was ignited by the band's pyrotechnic show.

Band members earlier had gone to a National Guard facility where a grand jury yesterday began weighing whether criminal charges should be lodged in connection with the fire, which killed 96 people and injured nearly 200 more.

But neither band leader Jack Russell nor other GREAT WHITE members testified before the grand jury, although they are expected to do so by early next week.

GREAT WHITE's lawyer spoke with state prosecutors who are presenting evidence to the grand jury, before the band traveled to the ruins of The Station nightclub in West Warwick.

"This is the worst experience of my life," Russell told reporters. GREAT WHITE guitarist Ty Longley was killed in the blaze.

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