Eastway blast: Victims Kearney, McLellan remembered as dedicated, generous, loving to families

The last of six Eastway victims publicly identified, Kearney and McLellan, were remembered on Monday as men, dedicated to their jobs, generous to their friends and loving to their families.

Article content

Among those killed by the Eastway Tank explosion were two friends, Matthew Kearney and Russell McLellan, both longtime employees of the Nepean manufacturing company.

Advertising

Article content

The last of six Eastway victims publicly identified, Kearney and McLellan, were remembered on Monday as men, dedicated to their jobs, generous to their friends and loving to their families.

Kearney, 36, a service manager and calibration technician at Eastway, died early Friday at the hospital from injuries during the explosion.

He had worked in the family-owned company for more than 14 years. Eastway Tank builds and repairs tankers that transport fuel and water.

“Matt was probably the most positive guy I’ve ever met,” said Brad Walker, a truck driver and former Eastway Tank employee. “No matter what the circumstances, he always had a smile on his face.”

In 2011, Kearney traveled to Afghanistan to work under contract at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul while Canadian troops battled the Taliban in that country.

Advertising

Article content

Kearney, a graduate of Stittsville’s Sacred Heart Catholic School, loved dogs, golf and the Ottawa Senators hockey. His family has asked that donations be made to a local dog adoption agency instead of flowers.

One of Matthew Kearney's friends called his former Eastway colleague
One of Matthew Kearney’s friends called his former Eastway colleague “probably the most positive guy I’ve ever met.” photo from Linkedin Photo by Linkedin /Linkedin

McLellan, 43, Kearney’s friend and colleague, worked as a factory manager at Eastway Tank.

His longtime friend, Tom Burant, said McLellan grew up in Russell and attended Algonquin College, where he studied car body repair. He worked in a workshop and as a welder before coming to Eastway Tank.

“He was a gentle giant,” Burant said. “He was always there for people. He was the first guy to lend a hand, the first to help.”

McLellan once built a sawmill for him, Burant said, after expressing a desire to buy one. He called it a birthday present. “He was the most generous guy ever,” Burant said.

Advertising

Article content

A gifted mechanic and metalworker, McLellan had a modest, quiet nature. He kept a trailer at Burant’s cottage property in Barry’s Bay and spent many happy weekends there with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Brianna.

“It was his favorite place,” Burant said. “He was there almost every weekend from May 24 to the end of October. He loved fishing and hanging out by the lake with his daughter.

Russell McLellan spent every summer weekend in Barry's Bay on a property he shared with his friend, Tom Burant.  He has imagined her with Burant's grandson, Colton.
Russell McLellan spent every summer weekend in Barry’s Bay on a property he shared with his friend, Tom Burant. He has imagined her with Burant’s grandson, Colton. Photo by photo provided /Tom Burant

“He was about his daughter: He lived and breathed for Brianna,” said Burant, 63, of Limoges. “She was his pride and joy.”

Burant is launched an online fundraiser to assist the McLellan family with funeral and other expenses.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the explosion and the fire that tore through the Eastway Tank building on Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. 13:30. The industrial accident killed six people.

Advertising

Article content

The bodies of five Eastway employees have not yet been found from the site, though four of them have been located. Ottawa politiinsp. Frank D’Aoust told reporters Sunday that the structure is so unstable that those working to recover the bodies have not been able to reach them yet.

Monday’s snowstorm further complicated exploration and recovery efforts at the Merivale Road blast site. Tents were set up to protect it from the heavy snowfall.

Among those also presumed dead in the blast is Rick Bastien, 57, a mechanic and welder from Luskville, Que .; electrician Etienne Mabiala, 59, a husband and father who moved to Canada from the Republic of Congo; welder and Algonquin College graduate Kayla Ferguson, 26, of Carleton Place; and electrician Danny Beale, 29, from Ottawa, who loved the outdoors.

Advertising

Article content

A memorial on the fence of the Eastway Tank Company on Monday, January 17, 2022
A memorial on the fence of the Eastway Tank Company on Monday, January 17, 2022 Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

Burant said McLellan had only good things to say about the work on the Eastway Tank.

“He loved the man he worked for, Neil (owner Neil Greene), and he absolutely loved his job,” Burant said Monday. “I once asked him, ‘Do you think this is a dangerous job?’ and he said, ‘Well, any job is dangerous, but if you follow the protocols and safety procedures, you can minimize the risk.’ ”

Parallel investigations are now being conducted by Ottawa police, the fire marshal, the regional forensic pathologist and the Department of Labor, but officials warned Sunday that it could take a long time to determine what caused the explosion.

Much of the blasting area has been wiped out, they said, leaving several layers of dirt to be carefully unpacked and examined.

Advertising

Article content

The Eastway Tank explosion was the deadliest industrial accident in Ottawa in more than half a century.

Ottawa haulier Dave Bolduc wants to host a fundraising event honoring all the workers who died at the Eastway Tank. He’s trying to organize a parade of trucks near the site this weekend.

Bolduc often had his tanker repaired at Eastway Tank and spent many hours talking to staff about fuel tanks and trucks. He knew both Kearney and McLellan.

“They were like two brothers,” he said. “They were both really good guys.”

Advertising

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, which is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your e-mail settings.

Follow us on Google News

Disclaimers for mcutimes.com

All the information on this website – https://mcutimes.com – is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. mcutimes.com does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (mcutimes.com), is strictly at your own risk. mcutimes.com will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.

Give a Comment