at Leighton, his daughter, Kaitlyn, and wife Sheri, pose with a picture of their late son Eric, who was killed during an accident at school last year.
Credits: DARREN BROWN/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA -- It's been a long, bitter battle for Eric Leighton's family, but a coroner's inquest will now be launched into the teen's tragic death during a high school shop class.
Leighton was 18 years old when he was killed by an explosion during shop class at Mother Teresa High School in Barrhaven in southwest Ottawa.
Students were building homemade barbecues from steel barrels when a spark ignited peppermint oil from a barrel and blew up on May 26, 2011, injuring several other students and the teacher.
Leighton's parents, Patrick and Sheri, were relieved to learn their calls for an inquest haven't gone unanswered.
"We're just happy," Sheri said. "My husband and I took the weekend to relish in the great news that we actually won because we were prepared to fight even harder if we had to."
A formal investigation will start early in the new year.
The Leightons publicly called for an inquest shortly after the Ottawa Catholic School Board was fined $275,000 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in August.
The couple pleaded for more answers at a press conference, insisting students should know they're safe at school.
"The inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding Eric Leighton's death," said the regions' top coroner, Dr. Roger Skinner, in a release. "The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths."
Sheri said the inquest will help put their minds at ease after grappling with Eric's death for more than a year.
"My family is doing well over it," she said, although their daughter, Kaitlyn, 17, was forced to change schools because of the memories at Mother Teresa.
"It was way too much for her," Sheri said. "There was a lot of drama for her there and just being there every day was a painful reminder."
Sheri wouldn't comment on whether the family has considered filing a civil suit against the Ottawa Catholic School Board or the teacher running the shop class.