Victims of deadly industrial explosion remembered as ‘good people’

Josh Bastien says his father Rick, right, was killed in Thursday’s explosion and fire at Eastway Tank on Merivale Road. Rick Bastien is pictured with his wife, Louise Martel. (Rick Bastien/Facebook)

Friends and families of the victims of Thursday’s horrific explosion at an Ottawa tank truck manufacturer mourn the loss of their loved ones, as authorities continue to investigate what caused one of the deadliest industrial disasters in the city’s history.

One man has been confirmed dead and five other people are missing and presumed dead after the explosion and fire at Eastway Tank Pump and Meter Ltd. at 1995 Merivale Rd. The explosion happened around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Among the victims is longtime Eastway employee Rick Bastien, 57, a former supervisor at the facility who is on the company’s current listing as a welder/manufacturer/mechanic.

I really think my dad just wanted to retire and thought it would be soon.– Josh Bastien

“My father has worked his whole life to provide for his family,” Josh Bastien wrote to CBC in a series of text messages.

“He was a stand-up guy, loved by everyone who met him. I never knew he had enemies. He would be there for his friends with a drop of a hat. He loved me and my sister and we could always count on him to be there,” wrote Bastien, who worked at Eastway with his father until about a year ago.

Almost retired

Bastien said his father was a skilled craftsman who recently put the finishing touches to the home he shared in Luskville, Que., with his wife, Louise Martel.

“We’ve had 10 great years together and thought we should have at least 30 more,” Martel wrote on her husband’s Facebook page. “We had great plans. RIP RICK. I love you and I always will, until we meet again.”

Josh Bastien said his father was three years into retirement and was looking forward to leaving Eastway.

“He was the best dad I could have ever asked for. I’m so grateful for the times we had together,” wrote Bastien.

“My dad wanted to leave, but I really think my dad just wanted to retire and thought it would be soon,” he continued. “Not quick enough.”

The devastation after Thursday’s explosion and fire at Eastway Tank can be seen in this drone footage from late Friday afternoon. (CBC)

‘My heart goes out to their families’

Bastien said he worked with all those dead or missing after Thursday’s explosion and fire, describing them as friends and “good people.”

Among the victims was the factory’s new supervisor, who Bastien described as “a good man”; a young woman trained as a welder under his father; a French-speaking immigrant from Africa who “was always a cheerfully smiling, smiling man at work and my father loved him and so did I”; another man who “always told jokes and was fun to be around”; and a man from Deep River, Ontario, who loved fishing and off-roading in his Jeep.

One survivor was flown to Toronto, where he was treated in the burns unit at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center. The hospital declined to disclose his condition to CBC on Friday.

Authorities have not released the names of the dead, missing or injured, and CBC News has not independently verified their identities.

Neil Greene, president and owner of Eastway Tank, said in a statement Friday that it is “with great sadness to learn that one of our colleagues has died as a result of the tragic explosion, with five missing and one in hospital. “

“My heart goes out to their families, loved ones and all of our employees who are recovering from this deep loss,” Greene said.

“We remain in close contact with investigators and we will work with authorities on all subsequent investigations. We want to get to the bottom of what happened.”

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