Relatives of the man killed after his neighbour’s house exploded in Whitehorse Tuesday are remembering him as a long-time Dawson City-area placer miner who was dedicated to his family.
David Gould, 77, was sleeping in his home on Bates Crescent when an explosion completely levelled the house next door. The side of Gould’s home closest to the explosion, including the bedroom he was in, was badly damaged.
Ashley Lewis, Gould’s granddaughter, confirmed Gould’s death in a Facebook message to CBC News Wednesday, describing him as the most selfless, loving person she knew and “a true Yukoner.”
“I have had [hundreds] of people … saying he was so kind and genuine and truly admired for the way he lived his life and put his family first,” she wrote.
“He spent his life helping others.”
Gould’s wife, Linda, was also home at the time of the explosion but had gotten up to use the washroom and escaped uninjured, Lewis said.
“My grandma would have been under that rubble with him if she hadn’t gotten up to go to the bathroom,” she wrote.
“Something saved her, something got her up. She is in completely fine condition. And we will never understand why.”
The couple had been together for 37 years and, Lewis said, was an “inspiration for what true love looks like.”
Gould, according to Lewis, was born in Dawson City, where he mined gold with his father.
Another family member, Gemma McIntyre-Gould, wrote in a separate message that Gould stuck to his family’s roots and was “always mining” because he wanted to stay busy.
Mining records show that Gould still holds a number of placer claims along Hunker Creek.
Gould was “a good person inside and out,” McIntyre-Gould added.
“It’s a great and unexpected loss to our little community. And for our family,” she wrote. “I’m sure everyone is just trying to comprehend it all still. It’s hard having someone special leave so unexpectedly.”
Lewis said that her grandfather’s friends and other family members are “all in hysterics and in mourning and shock.” She described the house on Bates Crescent as the “family home” where she grew up, and that it was “gut-wrenching” to see it in its current condition.
She said her family, however, was able to find her grandmother’s wedding ring in the debris.
Neighbours help clean up scattered debris
Another man, who lived in the house that exploded, was injured in the blast which is still under investigation. There is no official word yet on what caused it.
The damage is widespread in the Riverdale neighbourhood, according to the city’s mayor.
Laura Cabott said more than a dozen homes in the neighbourhood were affected.
On Wednesday, a group of residents was hard at work cleaning up some of the properties near the blast site. Scraps of wood, glass, insulation and other materials could be found on neighbouring yards.
“We put together a crew today,” said Joan Stanton, who was helping clean up a friend’s property.
“It’s such a shock to have this happen. And there’s so much work to do. There will be work for probably months to come,” she said.
“So yeah, I just felt like we needed to do something, even just to start.”
Stanton’s own house is a few blocks away and was unaffected by the explosion, though the sound woke her up. At first, she thought a tree had fallen on her house.
“It was just a complete, you know, you’re awake immediately and going, ‘what’s that?'” Stanton said.
“Just a terrible, terrible tragedy for that family and for the family who lost an individual in this — and for all the neighbours.”
Stephan Poirier was also helping clean up a friend’s property on Wednesday. He lives in a different part of the city, but wanted to ensure his friend’s house was OK since they’re currently out of the territory.
“We will be here for a while. We’re hoping that the wind will calm down,” he said, noting that some debris was being blown into the nearby greenbelt.
“Not a very pretty scene at all, and hopefully the snow will not come down for the next 24 hours so we can still scrape and rake,” he said.