Parents of Eric Leighton still waiting for answers as inquest continues

Eric Leighton's parents are confident something positive will come out of the inquest into their son's death. The 18-year-old was killed in a shop class explosion in 2011.

The hope of a positive outcome, they said, is part of what is getting them through some very difficult days of testimony.

Seeing former teacher Scott Day for the first time in three years was too difficult for the Leightons. They left court early Tuesday, too upset to continue listening. They were also upset Wednesday, saying the got the feeling Day was blaming Eric for the accident that claimed his life.

The inquest isn't designed to find fault, however, it's meant to bring change to prevent future similar tragedies.

"I'd be surprised if nothing did come out of this. I mean, from what we saw and heard, I mean, change has to happen and there has been some big-time mistakes and a child lost his life. And one child is too many," said Pat Leighton.

He said changes already made at the school board are positive but it shouldn't have taken a death to spark those changes.

There's now more training and more strict approval for special projects like the BBQ Eric was working on when he was killed.

Earlier in the day Wednesday Day completed his testimony, remaining firm on his stance the BBQ project fell within curriculum requirements because it taught transferable skills.

Mary Ellen Agnel was the principal at Mother Teresa High School at the time of the explosion and she agreed the project was within the curriculum.

The school board now requires approval for special projects like the task of converting an oil drum into a BBQ.

Agnel said had that been the rule at the time she'd have approved the project.

"Scott Day would have been the expert and I would have trusted him completely," she said.

She called Day a "phenomenal teacher" with a "phenomenal connection to the students."

She said the school administration never had a concern for his ability to teach safely.

She recalled having been impressed by the students he taught who were adamant she wear safety glasses when she was in the classroom, even though she wasn't working.

"That comes from the teacher," she said.

Day hasn't worked since the explosion but Agnel says the board wants him back.

His lawyer Allan O'Brien said the explosion was traumatic for Day and said he hoped the inquest would do him some good as well.

He suggested it has been therapeutic for Day to speak publicly about the explosion for the first time and it have a chance to provide his perspective.

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