Christopher Arruda could have saved himself. He died trying to save others. Arruda went to The Station "all the time," said his mother, Patricia. "Somebody said he got out and went back in a couple times to help people. The third time he didn't come back."
Helping came naturally to the 30-year-old truck driver, his mother said. "If anybody broke down on the road, he'd stop. I told him, in this day and age you never know if you're going to get beat up, but he would still do it."
Arruda, who was born in West Warwick, graduated in 1995 from New England Tractor Trailer School in Pawtucket, and for the last six years had worked for D&N Equipment Service Inc. in Johnston. His boss, Dick Cucino, remembers Arruda as a caring person and an excellent driver. "He was a good boy. I'm going to miss him," Cucino said.
Driving was more a passion than vocation to Arruda, his mother said. "He loved drag racing, motor sports, anything to do with cars and trucks and motorcycles. He wanted to drive all his life."
Arruda was recovering from the trauma of a divorce, his mother said, and shortly before he died, "He told me he was still looking for his happiness. He was just getting back to the way he used to be."
The night Great White performed, The Station was the way Arruda liked it -- filled with good memories and old friends -- but he went to the club alone, his mother said. The friend he planned to go with, a police officer, was called in to work. Later, he was called to the fire scene.
"He was praying Chris didn't go," said Patricia Arruda. "Then he saw the truck in the parking lot and he knew, he just knew."