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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Man killed in blast had a heart of gold

An explosion at the Hotel Rochester that killed one man and critically injured another has left the community in shock.

ELAINE COONEY June 17, 2014 12:10pm

A member of the forensics team investigates the Hotel Rochester where an explosion killed one man and critically injured another. Photo: Elaine Cooney


The Rochester community is in shock following the death of resident Barry Purtell, 34, after an explosion on Sunday.

Echuca Criminal Investigations Unit Senior Detective David Quinlan said Mr Purtell died at 5.10pm, hours after the Hotel Rochester incident.

He described Mr Purtell as ‘‘brave and courageous’’ for helping his friend David Lobb at the scene.

Sen. Detective Quinlan was unable to comment further on Mr Purtell’s actions.

‘‘That’s what they do in a small country town,’’ he said.

Mr Lobb, 52, remains in a critical condition in the Alfred hospital following the blast.

Nanneella mechanic Tony Murphy, who worked with Mr Purtell, described him as a man with a ‘‘heart of gold’’.

‘‘He would never see anyone stuck,’’ he said.

‘‘He had a great sense of humour...he would call a spade a spade.’’

Mr Murphy said Mr Purtell had been in the town for a year and worked on various farms.

‘‘He had more jobs than hot breakfasts,’’ he said.

Mr Murphy said his colleague was a self-taught mechanic and a pedantic worker.

Sen. Detective Quinlan said the incident was being treated as nasty accident at this stage and forensic experts were investigating the scene yesterday.

For more on the tragedy, see this week’s Campaspe News.

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