NEW YORK - A Rockland County community is grappling with outrage after a father and son avoided prison time for their involvement in a fire that killed a volunteer firefighter and a man at a nursing home.
Rabbis Aaron and Nathaniel Sommer walked out of court Wednesday to the outcry of firefighters. The pair had pleaded guilty in June to causing the March 2021 blaze at the Evergreen court Home for Adults in Spring Valley that killed firefighter Jared Lloyd.
79-year-old Oliver Hueston, a resident of the home, also died in the fire.
However, a plea deal made with the Rockland County District Attorney's office means that the two suspects will not serve jail or prison time, but will have to pay $600 in court fees.
"My son is dead. He was burned to death. Dogs had to search for his body when the building collapsed in him," said Lloyd's mother. "Because of what these defendants did that night, my family will never be the same again."
Nathaniel Sommer expressed his remorse for the incident at the sentencing hearing.
"I’m sorry. I feel terrible for what I did. I tried my whole life to help people and I did the exact opposite here," Sommer said.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day also criticized the sentencing in a statement.
"As a former first responder I do not agree with the sentencing given to the two people responsible for the Evergreen Court deadly blaze not facing any jail time for their reckless and felonious behavior," Day said. "As I have stated countless times, the Lloyd and Hueston families do not feel this is justice for their loved ones who perished in that fire. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families now serving a life sentence as they mourn the loved ones serving a death sentence."