SPRING VALLEY, Rockland County (WABC) -- Four people have been arrested and two others charged in connection with a fire at a Spring Valley assisted living facility that claimed the lives of a resident and a firefighter earlier this year.
District Attorney Thomas Walsh and New York State Fire Prevention and Control officials detailed the arrests and the results of the three-month long investigation at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
On March 23, 2021, volunteer firefighter Jared Lloyd would heroically help rescue over 100 residents of the Evergreen Assisted Living Facility before passing away during rescue operations.
A resident of the facility, 79-year-old Oliver Hueston, also died.
A rabbi and his son associated with the facility are facing the most serious charges, for "actions that have been determined to cause the fire," Walsh said without elaborating.
Nathaniel and Aaron Sommer are both charged with two counts of second-degree manslaughter, as well as second- and third-degree assault, fourth-degree arson, and second-degree reckless endangerment.
Spring Valley village building inspectors Wayne Ballard and Raymond Canario are both charged with first-degree offering false instrument and falsifying business records for allegedly falsely filing reports to New York State regarding fire inspections.
The two other suspects are only facing misdemeanor charges and were given citations instead of being arrested.
Center director Denise Kerr is charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, and Manuel Lema is charged with criminal impersonation and obstructing government administration, for their alleged actions from within the facility prior to the start of the fire.
The 35-year-old Lloyd, a father to two young boys, had served the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department for 15 years. His day job was with the cable company Altice.
The flames broke out inside the facility just after 1 a.m., and a portion of the building collapsed as firefighters battled the blaze.
Lloyd rushed into the burning building to rescue residents, and officials believe he became disoriented and could not find his way out.
He was one of the first on the scene and transmitted a mayday, but other firefighters were unable to rescue him.
Between 20 and 25 residents were rescued by firefighters from what was described as a chaotic scene, and more than a dozen were taken to area hospitals.
Two other firefighters were injured.
It took more than six hours to get the fire under control, and the facility -- which offered assisted living, nursing home facilities, and continuing care for older adults -- was a total loss.
Kerr released a statement after the fire.
"This is an unspeakable tragedy at Evergreen Court Home and our hearts and prayers go out to all individuals and families who have been impacted. We join the community in mourning the loss of our resident who passed away and pray for the safety of the missing firefighter. We are fully cooperating with all state and local authorities in the investigation of this fire and are conducting our own internal investigation as well. Our staff was truly heroic in evacuating residents who were inside the building as the fire spread, and we are forever grateful to the first responders whose actions undoubtedly saved lives. All 112 residents at Evergreen Court Home are accounted for and have been placed in a new home. We are currently in the process of contacting their families. Anyone who wishes to reach us to inquire about a family member can call 973-378-1997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org."
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