Outpouring of condolences after teen succumbs to injuries
The mood at Mother Teresa High School is "quiet and sad" said Catholic school board officials.
Eric Leighton, 18, died around 8 p.m. Thursday night after hours of fighting for his life. An explosion in his auto-shop class sent him to the hospital with no vital signs.
Hospital staff was able to revive him with a pulse, giving hope to the people that knew him and others who had just heard the story.
When news broke he had succumbed to his injuries, hundreds of fellow students gathered at the school.
"It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that a Grade 12 student, Eric Leighton, passed away in the hospital evening around 8 p.m," principal Mary Ellen Agnel wrote in an email to students.
"Please keep Eric's family, the staff and students, and our large Mother Teresa community in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
CTV's Melissa Lamb reported they were crying, laying flowers and sharing memories outside the school Thursday night.
"This is the second student to die at the school," Lamb told CTV News Channel.
Last year Christian Williams, also set to graduate, died in a Barrhaven car crash.
"It's kind of like a ‘not again' scenario – lots of shock," said Lamb.
Five others were also injured in the blast, including the shop teacher.
All were treated for minor injuries and released from hospital on Thursday.
"The board's crisis response team will be on hand to support any students who need help coping with this tragedy. Teachers, chaplains, psychologists from the main board will all be there to lend a hand," Gordon Butler told CTV Canada AM Friday from outside the school.
Butler is with the Ottawa Catholic School Board and said it's still not clear what went wrong. He said a class project in the past has been to make barbecues out of old oil drums.
CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr reported the students were working with some sort of flame or torch and there was a 45-gallon drum in the room that either contained peppermint oil or had previously contained peppermint oil.
"It's believed that fumes from that drum ignited and caused a flash explosion," Schnurr told CTV News Channel Thursday afternoon.
Mother Teresa High School remains open while police and fire officials investigate.
"We're running a subsequent investigation also, to determine, once the results are known from that investigation, what changes, if any, are required in our policies and procedures," Butler said.
Butler said it'll be up to Ottawa Fire Services to determine precisely what happened. However, fire spokesperson Marc Messier said the investigation is now in the hands of the Ministry of Labour.
Students described Leighton as a popular Grade 12 student and an athlete who played lacrosse and hockey. He was due to graduate in a few weeks.
Leighton was planning to take a year off after graduating to work and save money. He was hoping to pursue a hockey career or move to Alberta to study police sciences.
Mother Teresa Catholic High School is located in the Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven, in a quiet residential area, and has 1,480 students and 130 staff.
The school will hold a memorial for Leighton next week.
With reports from CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr, Melissa Lamb, John Hua and Michael O'Byrne.
With files from CTV News Staff and The Canadian Press
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