4 arrested in deadly Rockland assisted living home fire: officials

Northern Suburbs

SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. — At least four people were arrested in connection to the deadly March fire at a Rockland County assisted living home, authorities announced Tuesday.

Nathaniel Sommer and his son Aaron Sommer were both charged for their actions that have been determined to cause the blaze, officials said following a three-month investigation. They face charges of second-degree manslaughter, second- and third-degree assault, fourth-degree arson and reckless endangerment.

Wayne Ballard and Raymond Canario were also arrested on charges of falsely filing reports to the New York Sate regarding fire inspections. They face charges of offering false instrument and falsifying business records, according to District Attorney Thomas Walsh II.

Both men were employed at the facility, but it was not immediately known if they were actively employed.

Arrest warrants were issued for Denise Kerr and Manuel Lema, according to authorities. They face charges for their actions from within the facility prior to the start of the blaze.

Officials did not provide further information on the suspects’ roles as the investigation remains ongoing.

Firefighters were called to the Evergreen Court Home for Adults at Lafayette Street in the village of Spring Valley just before 1 a.m. on March 23.

At least 100 residents were inside the building at the time of the blaze, according to officials.

One resident was pronounced dead at the hospital, and a volunteer firefighter who went missing after calling for help was also pronounced dead after his body was recovered. 

Jared Lloyd, a 35-year-old father of two, issued a mayday call as firefighters worked to put out the blaze. He did not make it out of the building as it collapsed.

At least 13 residents were hospitalized and two firefighters were injured, according to officials.

The home, about 30 miles north of New York City, housed 112 residents, according to its operator. Parts of the home were three stories high.

Following the blaze, all survivors had been placed in a new home. 

Members of the Rockland County District’s Attorney spoke Tuesday to provide an update on the blaze.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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