09 December 2020

Family tributes paid to four who died in Avonmouth explosion

09 December 2020

The families of three men and a teenage boy who were killed in an explosion at a water recycling centre in Avonmouth have paid tribute to them.

Luke Wheaton, 16, from Bradley Stoke, Ray White, 57, from Portishead, Brian Vickery, 63, from Clevedon, and Mike James, 64, from Bath, died in the incident at the Wessex Water site on December 3.

It is understood that Mr James was a contractor working at the site, while Mr Vickery and Mr White were employees of Wessex Water and Luke was an apprentice at the firm.

Luke Wheaton (PA Media)

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that the cordon around the site was removed on Tuesday night, although investigations will continue at the scene.

The victims of the blast have been formally identified and post-mortem examinations have been carried out, the force said.

In tributes released through police, the families of Luke, Mr White, Mr Vickery and Mr James described how they would be missed.

Luke’s family said: “Taken from us way too soon. Words cannot describe what we are going through.

Ray White (PA Media)

“We are so proud of Luke, who is the most gorgeous, loving, happy, talented, perfect son.

“Luke had everything to look forward to in life and has left a massive hole that will never be filled.”

They said he adored his family and would be missed by his large network of friends, including from football, rugby and school.

“Luke knows how much he is loved and will be dearly missed by everyone. We just wish we could bring him back,” his family said.

“Always in our hearts and thoughts – life will never be the same again.”

Brian Vickery (PA Media)

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

“He was a wonderful son, brother and father to his two sons,” they said.

“He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

“The family respectfully request privacy at this difficult time to allow them to grieve in peace.”

Mr Vickery’s family said there are “not enough words to describe the impact” that he had on his family, friends and so many.

Mike James (PA Media)

“He brightened everyone’s lives with his cheeky and wicked sense of humour,” they said.

“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.

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

Mr James’s family said he was a “brother, husband, father and Grampy. He will be missed.”

The families are being supported by specialist family liaison officers.

They thanked those who had contacted them for their support but requested their privacy be respected.

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