Injured worker doesn't know pal died in blast

A FACTORY worker seriously injured in the blast which killed his best friend has not yet been told his pal is dead.

Peter Lyndon Davis, aged 51, of Stead Lane, Hoyland Common, Barnsley, underwent surgery at the Northern General Hospital yesterday.

Medical staff have been asked not to tell him that the explosion which broke his leg and ribs, and left him with burns to his head and hands, also killed his best friend - 42-year-old Michael Whinfrey, from Wickersley, Rotherham.

You can leave a tribute to Michael in our book of condolence, click here

Newspapers, TVs and radios will all be kept away from Peter to prevent him finding out about the tragedy.

His partner Jeanette Heenan told The Star she wants to be sure he will be strong enough to cope with the shocking news before she breaks it to him.

Peter and his best friend, known to pals as Mick, were working together at Sterecycle - a recycling plant on Sheffield Road, Templeborough - when a pressure vessel exploded and ripped a gaping hole in the side of the plant, mangling its corrugated iron walls.

The sheer ferocity of the blast was captured on CCTV cameras at a neighbouring business.

Peter and Mick were both trapped after the explosion, and had to be freed by firefighters.

Tragically Mick, a married father-of-three, later died from the extent of his injuries after he was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary.

His family was too distraught to talk about his death yesterday.

Peter was rushed to the Northern General Hospital with burns to his forehead and hands, a fractured leg, broken ribs, and cuts to his face.

Jeanette told The Star he is "very poorly" but expected to pull through.

"I am grateful that Peter survived but I am devastated for Mick - they were best friends," she said.

"I feel sorry for Mick's family and send my condolences to them - this could easily have been Peter, or both of them.

It is a tragedy.

"Peter will be devastated when he finds out, but I want to be the one to tell him, and only when he is well enough for that kind of news.

"At the moment, he is dazed and disorientated, he hasn't been able to say much, and he doesn't know what has happened.

"Nobody really knows what caused the explosion - there is a full investigation underway.

"I want to thank everyone for their support through all this."

Yesterday floral bouquets had been pinned to the railings outside the factory.

Cards left with flowers make plain the shock and sadness felt by Mick's family and friends.

One card, left by Mark, Kylie and Kalvin, asks: "How can someone so full of life be so tragically taken from us? It must be true - God only takes the good ones."

Another, left by colleagues at the recycling plant, reads: "RIP Mick, from all the lads on A shift."

A card left by Jayne, Jon, Maddison and Sienna, says: "Uncle Mick, the world will not be the same without you", and another says: "I can't believe you have been taken from us."

A statement issued on behalf of Sterecycle said: "It is with deep regret and sadness that Sterecycle announces the loss of one of its employees, 42-year-old site operator Michael Whinfrey, who passed away at Leeds General Hospital as a result of injuries he suffered in an incident that occurred at Sterecycle's Rotherham waste treatment facility.

"Mr Whinfrey's colleagues are extremely saddened. Their thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Whinfrey, and with those of his colleague, 51-year-old site operator Peter Davis, who suffered serious injuries and remains in Northern General Hospital."

Sterecycle's chief executive officer Tom Shields said: "I speak for all my staff when I say how deeply saddened I am by Michael's death.

"He was a much valued colleague, an excellent member of staff, and a fine man. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

A joint investigation into the cause of the explosion is being carried out by South Yorkshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive.


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