- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

BOSTON, March 7 (UPI) — The deadly nightclub fire in Rhode Island two weeks ago has claimed its 99th victim with the death of a Florida construction worker.

Mitchell C. Shubert, 39, of Newberry, Fla., died Thursday afternoon of burns at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, it was reported Friday.

"We thought he was going to survive this thing because he was so tough," his father, Walter Shubert of Gainesville, Fla., said in Friday's Providence Journal.

"But there was so much damage, I guess, to his lungs and his heart and his kidneys he just couldn't fight this off," the father said.

The younger Shubert had suffered burns over nearly 30 percent of his body as well as lung damage from smoke inhalation.

The father of a 17-year-old girl, Mitchell Shubert had come to Rhode Island to work on a construction project with a friend, Kevin Blom, with whom he went to The Station rock concert club the night of Feb. 20 to see the Great White heavy metal band.

Pyrotechnics used by the band ignited a fire that quickly consumed the small venue in flames and thick, black smoke.

Kevin Blom escaped with minor injuries, but his brother, Steven Blom, lost his life.

Officials said 96 people died in the fire and nearly 190 were injured. Shubert was the third person hospitalized in critical condition to die as doctors struggled to keep them alive.

Nineteen victims of the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in the nation's history remain in critical condition.

Meanwhile, the grand jury investigating possible criminal charges as a result of the blaze reportedly planned to spend the next few weeks reviewing documents and witness testimony.

Some members of the Great White band and its managers were among those who reportedly appeared before the grand jury earlier this week.

Great White tour manager Daniel Biechele has said he told The Station's co-owner Michael Derderian that the band planned to use pyrotechnic devices.

Derderian, however, has denied he knew in advance the fiery "sparklers" would be used, and that permission to do so was never given.

The sparks shooting up from the stage ignited the polyurethane material used to help soundproof the club. The fast-burning material quickly spread flames through the club, trapping dozens of patrons before they could escape.

As a result, civil lawsuits have already been filed on behalf of the families of two victims, with more expected.

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