Tributes paid as police name SSI explosion victims

Police have named two men who died in an explosion at a former Teesside coking plant.

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 10:19 am
Updated Monday, 30th September 2019, 5:37 pm
John Mackay and Tommy Williams who died at the former SSI site

John Mackay and Tommy Williams were using a cherrypicker at the former SSI Site in South Bank when the explosion occurred.

Now their families have released photos of their loved ones and paid tributes to them.

John, 49, from Edinburgh, was a husband, father, stepfather and grandfather.

John Mackay

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His family said: “John was much loved by his wife, parents, sisters, children, stepchildren and grandchildren and will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.

“We are immensely grateful for the support we have received in the past week and take comfort in hearing how popular a man John was.”

Tommy, 65, from Warwickshire, was a father of Emma and a grandfather of Jordan, Kade and Jazmin.

His wife Bobbie said: “Tommy was a dearly loved husband, father and grandfather who will be desperately missed.

Tommy Williams

“I would like to send all my gratitude and thanks to every member of the team that has been involved. I cannot thank you all enough.”

Superintendent Tariq Ali said: “Both Tommy and John’s family and friends are dealing with the devastation of losing them and I would ask that people respect their privacy at this extremely difficult time.

“They are being supported by specialist family liaison officers.”

Flames could be seen at the time of the incident, and Cleveland Police confirmed the following morning that two men had died in the incident.

The Health and Safety Executive had been informed of the fire.

SSI purchased the site in February 2011 but went into liquidation in October 2015.

The steelworks stopped production after 98 years later that month when it was announced there was no realistic prospect of prospective buyers taking it off the Thai owners.

Earlier this year, a deal was agreed to transfer half the developable land on the former steelworks to the South Tees Development Corporation, an enterprise promoting economic development in the Tees Valley.