The shop class teacher who taught 18-year-old Eric Leighton hasn't been back to teaching since the explosion at Mother Teresa high school three years ago. For the first time, Eric Leighton's parents heard from Scott Day at a coroner’s inquest into their son's death. It was emotional day for Eric Leighton's family as they heard the firsthand account from the student who was working alongside Eric the day he died. It was an explosion so powerful the morning of May 26, 2011 morning that it rocked the school.
Shop class teacher Scott Day told the coroner’s inquest today his initial reaction was "what the hell was that?"
A spark from a grinder had ignited fumes inside a barrel that two of his students were cutting to make an improvised BBQ. 18 year old Eric Leighton was killed in the explosion. Scott Day saw him on the floor of the tool room
"I didn't realize the severity of his injuries" he said at the inquest, "and told him to get up off the floor".
Leighton's shop class partner that day had been feet away from Eric when the explosion happened. Adam Soliman testified "he heard a buckling metal noise and turned around instinctively and the barrel exploded".
Soliman and Leighton had made a similar BBQ from a barrel days earlier. It had been such a hit that several teachers asked for one. Teacher Scott Day found used barrels on-line and purchased them for the class. Day told the inquest he hadn't given the boys permission yet to cut the barrel; "There was no plan for cutting whatsoever,” he said, though Adam Soliman didn't recall that conversation. The barrel had previously contained peppermint oil. Adam was tasked by Scott Day with cleaning it out using an engine de-greaser from the company Kleen Flo. Regional engineer with the Ministry of Labor, Robert Molina testified the de-greaser was as volatile as gasoline.
Molina said you would “only need 12 ml (a little less than a tablespoon) of the product in order to have the vapors ignite (with a spark from the grinder).” The inquest heard yesterday that the barrel contained 60 ml of the de-greaser.
Day told the inquest that safety was a number one priority for him; everything, he says, came second after that. The inquest will continue for another week. The lawyer for the coroner asked Scott Day if he had anything he wanted to add, as his testimony finished. Day paused for a full minute trying to collect his emotions. Then whispered “Just so very sorry it happened."