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Missing man’s family visits south Ottawa explosion site to pay last respects

The final day that Mike Beale saw his son, Danny, they were doing what they loved: spending time together outdoors last weekend at Mike’s hunt club near Calabogie, Ont.

“He was a big fisherman and hunter and just loved being outside,” he recalled. “I guess a lot of that came from me. I feel quite blessed to have been with him just a few days ago.”

Danny Beale, 29, was one of six people believed to have died in Thursday’s explosion that ripped through the south Ottawa headquarters of Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Ltd., a manufacturer of tanker trucks.

Originally from Deep River, Ont., Beale lived in Ottawa and worked at Eastway as a 12-volt electrician. He loved his job and the people he worked with, his father said.

“It just leaves a massive hole in your heart,” Mike said.

missing mans family visits south ottawa explosion site to pay last respects
Beale, left, poses with his father, Mike, by the Ottawa River during one of their outdoor excursions together. Mike said he last saw his son during a recent ice-fishing trip. (Submitted by Mike Beale)

Beale’s parents described him as a devout family man equally at home on the hiking trail and at family get-togethers — including a reunion last October, where he joined his nieces and cousins in a dance set to a 1990s pop hit.

“There’s Danny, six-foot-two, doing a choreographed dance to The Spice Girls,” recalled his mother, Jean Schade.

“Most men wouldn’t get up and have done that. He was just a fun-loving guy.”

missing mans family visits south ottawa explosion site to pay last respects 1
Beale’s parents left this photo of him at the Eastway explosion site on Saturday. (CBC)

‘We know he’s not missing’

Beale’s family visited the explosion site at 1995 Merivale Rd. on Saturday “to sort of pay our last respects,” Mike said.

They left flowers at the gate, along with a photo of their son that showed him smiling and proudly posing in a boat with a fish.

Schade said she has given investigators a sample of her blood to help with identification efforts.

“We all believe he’s there and he’s passed away,” she said. “In our hearts, we know he’s not missing.”

Investigators have said the Eastway building was heavily damaged, making the work of recovering human remains and discovering the cause of the blaze difficult.

Officials re-emphasized that point during a Sunday afternoon update. One called the scene “challenging” because of the cold, the size of the area and the magnitude of the blast.

Another said the structure was still unstable and could take several days to dismantle. Workers had not been able to get far inside.

Yet another official said while human remains from four bodies have been found, it’s still unsafe to reach them.

missing mans family visits south ottawa explosion site to pay last respects 2
Beale, right, sits in a canoe with his mother, Jean Schade, and her husband, Dave Storey, left. ‘In our hearts, we know he’s not missing,’ Schade said Sunday. (Submitted by Jean Schade)

Mike Beale said he wants to know what caused the explosion.

“It’s a tragedy, and it probably should never have happened, like most accidents shouldn’t happen,” he said. “But this one in particular obviously hits home.”

Schade said that knowing what happened isn’t integral to her own grieving process.

“If there was an error made, people make errors,” she said. “But that’s the only reason I would care for that is to help others, but not for me moving on…. It happened. It doesn’t bring Danny back.”

WATCH | Weather could hamper investigation into Ottawa explosion: 

missing mans family visits south ottawa explosion site to pay last respects 3

Families remember victims of Ottawa explosion as weather complicates investigation

6 hours ago

Duration 1:52

Family members of some of the victims of Friday’s deadly explosion in Ottawa share the stories of loved ones as investigators prepare for a lengthy investigation further complicated by a snowstorm. 1:52

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