Ghost Ship Trial: 9 victims died of smoke inhalation, pathologist testifies

Bay Area

OAKLAND (KRON) — Testimony continues today in the Ghost Ship Trial. 

On Tuesday forensic pathologist Dr. Thomas Rogers, testified that 9 of the 36 victims died of smoke inhalation. 

Dr. Rogers also said that those 9 victims had soot and smoke in their airways, as well as carbon monoxide in their blood. 

Ryan O’Keefe, a second witness in the trial, said he and defendant Max Harris were greeting people at the door and within five seconds of seeing fire, the place “exploded into an inferno.”

O’Keefe says the smoke was so bad he and three other people only had time to yell “Fire!” and run out. 

He says there wasn’t any time to collect his belongings, like his wallet or laptop. 

O’Keefe says the smoke burned his lips and once he was outside he didn’t see anyone else coming out of the building. 

Three people took the stand Monday.

They were the mother of a victim, the man who signed the warehouse lease, and a young woman who lived in Ghost Ship and was there the night of the fire that killed 36 people in 2016. 

That woman, Elizabeth Mazzola, described the chaos that night, saying she managed to escape after hearing her neighbor call out for help. 

She also described Max Harris, one of the two defendants in the trial, as a personable, kind, and decent man, adding that she never felt unsafe in the warehouse. 

“Everyone is going to smile just like she did and say he was a kind, honest and hardworking person. He wasn’t in charge of anything at the warehouse, he was a servant, he was somebody there that was there to help. He was a wonderful person and an honest guy,” said Curtis Briggs, Max Harris’ attorney. 

Harris and Derick Almena are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. 

Both are accused of failing to provide adequate safety equipment, exits, and signage. 

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