Families of oil blast victims break silence

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Families of oil blast victims break the silence

The families of Greg Podulsky (left) and Darcy Schwindt (right) hope the investigation into the explosion that killed the two men will prevent other similar accidents.

Two families say they are still in shock after the loss of members in an explosion at one of the Calgarian oil company Tamarack Valley Energy's facilities on November 12.

Greg Podulsky, 29, and Darcy Schwindt, 47, were killed in an explosion at the Marten Hills settlement northeast of Slave Lake, some 250 km north of Edmonton.

The incident is being investigated by the province's Occupational Health and Safety Commission.

In the meantime, Charlene Nahamko feels like she's been suspended in a vacuum since the death of his son, Greg Podulsky. I cannot express what emptiness causes this change, she explains. It is difficult for everyone and it is repeated on a daily basis, like Groundhog Day.

She remembers her son's immense talent for the arts, including drawing, painting and music. He had become a welder after graduating from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).

To him, everyone was good friends, says she. If someone needed him, the time of day or the place no longer mattered. He was there.

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The emptiness felt by Charlene Nahamko is also the one that inhabits Ivan Schwindt when he thinks of his brother, Darcy.

Darcy was a wonderful brother and a great human being […] with a great sense of humor, he recalls.

His wife, Dallas, says the family is still trying to get over the news. Ivan and I were watching a hockey game when we got the call about the accident in which Darcy was killed, she says.

The hardest part, however, she said, was informing their two daughters that their uncle had died. It was in the role of uncle that Darcy showed the best of himself, she underlines.

By remembering her son, Charlene Nahamko notably wants to end to speculation about the causes of the incident. It's easy to point the accusing finger and get angry, but that wasn't Greg's kind [of reaction], so we won't, she insists.

We pray that [the lessons learned from] this tragedy will prevent others in the future, so that no other family will suffer this kind of pain, hopes Dallas Schwindt, for his part .

Work is still suspended at the facility where the incident occurred and Tamarack Valley Energy does not know when it will be able to resume.

With information from Mrinali Anchan, Madeleine Cummings and The Canadian Press

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