It was a funeral that nobody thought they'd be attending so soon.

About 1,500 mourners gathered at a Nepean church Friday to pay tribute to 18-year-old Eric Leighton whose life was cut short in a freak accident at his high school last week.

Hundreds wore purple, Eric's favourite colour. While many shed tears, his family and friends tried to stay strong, and even shared a few moments of laughter.

"We know what Eric wants from each of us, is that we never give up, we forge ahead," Rev. Stephen Amesse told Leighton's family and friends.

"He wouldn't want us to be sad and that's what his sister keeps saying. Just don't be sad because that's not the kind of guy he was," said classmate Jenn Zimmer.

Leighton died from his injuries in hospital last Thursday after an explosion in his shop class. He was working on a steel barrel to make a barbeque when it exploded. Ontario's Ministry of Labour is now investigating.

Leighton was weeks away from his high school graduation and planned to pursue a hockey career after he took a year off from school to earn money.

He was remembered Friday as a model son who was a good friend to many -- the type of guy who made a lasting impression on everyone he met.

"Even though we can't tangibly see that wonderful smile or that wonderful face that radiates happiness, his legacy is going to live on for us forever. You were my best friend. We love you buddy. We're never going to forget you," said Mike Milito.  

In lieu of flowers, Leighton's family is asking for donations to be made to the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Foundation, an organization that helps kids participating in recreation and sport.

Contributions can be made care of Eric's mother, Sheri Leighton, at TD Canada Trust, account number 6419094, branch 2831.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua