Four people have been arrested, including two facing manslaughter charges, and two others face arrest warrants in connection with a fatal fire at a Rockland County home for elderly residents.
The arrests were announced on Tuesday, June 29 by Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Walsh during a press conference following a three-month investigation into the Tuesday, March 23, fire at Evergreen Court Home for Adults in Spring Valley.
The fire, which caused the building to partially collapse, killed Spring Valley Volunteer Firefighter Jared Lloyd as he was rescuing residents and a 79-year-old resident of the home.
"Today is the culmination of a multi-agency investigation that left no stone unturned," Walsh said. "I informed the Lloyd family today of the arrests made today. While we can't bring Jared back, today is a step in the right direction."
Those arrested for their actions that allegedly caused the fire include Aaron Sommer and his son, Nathaniel Sommer, who were both charged with:
- Two counts of manslaughter
- Nine counts of assault
- Two counts of reckless endangerment
Both men were arraigned and are being held at that the Rockland County Jail. Their next court appearance is scheduled for Friday, July 2.
Also arrested were Spring Valley building inspectors Wayne Ballard and Raymond Canario who were both charged with filing false reports to the state in connection with fire inspections.
They were officially charged with offering a false instrument of filing and falsifying business records.
They were processed and released.
Walsh said arrest warrants were also issued for Denise Kerr of New York City and Manuel Lema of Pomona.
Kerr is facing a charge of reckless endangerment, and Lema faces charges of criminal impersonation and obstructing governmental administration.
Walsh, who declined to answer any questions regarding the role each of those arrested played in the fire and deaths as to "not taint a grand jury," said his goal was to hold those arrested responsible for the fire and their actions.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day said: "The fact that these arrests came from many different facets of this situation says a lot about how comprehensive and in-depth this investigation has been along with the different aspects of accountability and criminality we are dealing with."
Walsh said the investigation is ongoing.
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