Families pay tribute to workers and apprentice, 16, killed in Avonmouth explosion

9 December 2020, 15:35 | Updated: 9 December 2020, 15:45

Luke Wheaton, Ray White, Brian Vickery and Mike James all died in the blast
Luke Wheaton, Ray White, Brian Vickery and Mike James all died in the blast. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The families of three men and a teenage apprentice who were killed in an explosion at a water recycling plant have paid tribute.

Sixteen-year-old Luke Wheaton, of Bradley Stoke, Brian Vickery, 63, of Clevedon, Ray White, 57, of Portishead, and Mike James, 64, from Bath, died in last week’s blast.

Police said the incident at Wessex Water's Bristol water recycling centre in Avonmouth is still being investigated.

Luke’s family described him as “the most gorgeous, loving, happy, talented, perfect son”.

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In a statement, they said: “Luke had everything to look forward to in life and has left a massive hole that will never be filled.”

Luke Wheaton was described by family as a "perfect" son
Luke Wheaton was described by family as a "perfect" son. Picture: PA

They added: “Luke knows how much he is loved and will be dearly missed by everyone. We just wish we could bring him back. Always in our hearts and thoughts - life will never be the same again.”

The family of Brian Vickery said he “brightened up everyone’s lives with this cheeky and wicked sense of humour”.

“Nothing meant more to him than being around the ones he loved and it’s difficult to think of him without it bringing a smile to your face”, they said.

Brian Vickery "brightened by everyone&squot;s lives"
Brian Vickery "brightened by everyone's lives". Picture: PA

They added: “There are not enough words to describe the impact Brian had on not only his family and closest friends but to so many others.

“We feel blessed to have had him in our lives and we will cherish these memories forever.”

Ray White’s family said they were “struggling to come to terms” with his death.

Ray White was described as "a wonderful son, brother and father to his two sons"
Ray White was described as "a wonderful son, brother and father to his two sons". Picture: PA

They added: “He was a wonderful son, brother and father to his two sons. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”

The family of Mike James said the "brother, husband, father and Grampy" would be missed.

"Brother, husband, father and Grampy" Mike James
"Brother, husband, father and Grampy" Mike James. Picture: PA

Specially trained officers are supporting the families of the four workers.

Avon and Somerset Police added in a statement: “The cordon in place around the Wessex Water site following Thursday’s incident was removed last night although enquiries will continue to be carried out at the scene as the investigation progresses. 

“The formal identification process has now been completed and post mortem examinations have been conducted.”

Emergency services were called last Thursday at about 11.20am after the explosion happened in a silo that held treated biosolids.