Ottawa

Matt Kearney's coworkers tried to save his life after Eastway explosion: family

Employees at Eastway Tank tried to keep their colleague Matt Kearney alive after the explosion that shattered the south Ottawa business last Thursday, his family says. 

Family also thanks emergency services, hospital staff 'for their extensive efforts'

Matt Kearney, 36, was a service technician at Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Ltd., the south Ottawa businesses shattered by an explosion last week. Kearney died in hospital a day after the blast. (Submitted by Vanessa Gonyea)

Employees at Eastway Tank tried to keep their colleague Matt Kearney alive after the explosion that shattered the south Ottawa business last Thursday, his family says. 

"We would like to express a heartfelt thank you to Matt's coworkers who selflessly attempted to save his life," Kearney's family said in an emailed statement sent to CBC News on Monday. 

Kearney, 36, was a service technician at Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Ltd., which manufactures tanker trucks. The site of company's headquarters on Merivale Road is now at the centre of a sprawling investigation into what caused the deadly blaze tied to six deaths. 

"Matt was an exceptional person. He was strong, funny, selfless, hardworking, honest, loyal and compassionate," the statement from Kearney's family read. 

"[He] was a fun-loving guy, full of wit, [and] always knew just what to say in any given situation. He had a relentless regard for the well being and safety of others, even in his own time of need. His unwavering love and dedication to his family and friends will be forever imprinted on all of our hearts."

Died in hospital surrounded by family

Police said soon after the blast that three people had been taken to hospital. 

Kearney was one of those people, his common-law partner Vanessa Gonyea confirmed after sending the statement on behalf of the family. 

He died from his injuries on Jan. 14, the day after the explosion, surrounded by family, according to the statement. 

"We would also like to express a sincere thank you to the Ottawa Emergency Services and The Ottawa Hospital ICU trauma team for their extensive efforts."

'There are no words to express the pain our family is facing at this time,' Kearney's family said in a statement emailed to CBC News. (Submitted by Vanessa Gonyea)

Gonyea said her daughter, to whom Kearney was a stepfather, is among those in mourning. 

"The magnitude of the sorrow and devastation left in the wake of this tragedy is evidence to how Matt was able to touch the lives of all that have had the pleasure of knowing him," the statement said. 

"There are no words to express the pain our family is facing at this time. Matt was an integral part of our family. This loss is one from which we will never recover."

The family also extended its condolences to the families and friends of other employees "lost in this unthinkable tragedy," as well as to all surviving Eastway coworkers "as they navigate their loss."

In addition to the three people taken to hospital, police also said five Eastway employees were believed to be in the building at the time of the blast and are presumed to be dead.

CBC News has independently verified their identities: Rick BastienEtienne MabialaDanny BealeKayla Ferguson and Russell McLellan.   

The retrieval of their remains has been hampered by difficult working conditions at the explosion site, investigators have said. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa, originally from Cornwall, Ont.

Story tips? Email me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca or DM me @gqinott on Twitter.

with files from Michelle Allan

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