Eric Leighton died when an explosion ripped through an auto shop at Mother Teresa High School May 26.

Funeral for Ottawa student killed in blast to be held Friday

  • May 31, 2011

OTTAWA - The funeral service for a Grade 12 student killed in a shop accident at Ottawa's Mother Teresa Catholic High School will be held June 3.

The service for 18-year-old Eric Leighton is scheduled for Ottawa's St. Patrick's Church.

Leighton died when an explosion ripped through an auto shop at Mother Teresa High School May 26. Five others were injured. Police reported the students had been cutting through metal making barbecues when residue in a 55-gallon drum exploded.

Leighton was found "without vital signs" at the scene but paramedics "initiated advance resuscitative measures" and by the time he reached hospital, he had regained a pulse. Leighton, however, died in hospital later in the day, according to police.

Paramedics assessed four other students and a 33-year old teacher at the scene. They were sent to hospital for monitoring of possible concussive injuries.

Grade 12 student Jonathan Morales, 18, described Leighton as "an amazing guy," "fun, a jokester," someone who "always kept the class motivated and on task."

"It's really sad what happened to him," Morales said outside the school when there was still hope he might live. "We're holding on to faith right now. Because he needs to pull this through. He was about to graduate and I know he would have made it. Right now faith is basically about all we got."

The 911 call went out at 10:40 a.m. bringing out ambulances, fire trucks and the Hazardous Materials Response Team to the relatively new high school in the rapidly growing Barrhaven district in Ottawa's south.  

Frantic parents, alerted to the explosion by phone calls and text messages, tried to contact their children. Fear mounted with early reports a student had been killed. Dawn Carter received a message from a friend who had heard about the blast from her co-worker's daughter.

"I called him right away and he answered. Thank God!" Carter said.  

She said she hoped the school board would have plenty of counsellors to help students deal with the crisis.

"I hope the kids can appreciate they are in a Catholic environment and their faith can get them through this very tragic time," she said.

The board's Critical Incident Team of psychologists, chaplains, counsellors and staff have been providing support to students and staff since the accident.

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