THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Mass held for victims of Conn. plant explosion

THOMAS CAIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS Governor M. Jodi Rell and Mayor Sebastian Giuliano of Middletown attended the memorial service yesterday. THOMAS CAIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Governor M. Jodi Rell and Mayor Sebastian Giuliano of Middletown attended the memorial service yesterday. (Thomas Cain/Associated Press)
Associated Press / February 28, 2010

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MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - Six men who were killed in a power plant explosion three weeks ago were honored yesterday before 500 people who gathered for a memorial Mass.

A pipe and drum band from Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 21 in Westchester County, N.Y., played somber music as the Mass began at St. Mary of Czestochowa Church.

“So our brothers are dead. We know that we are helpless in the face of death,’’ the Rev. Marek Masnicki said. “We wait in confusion sometimes, we wait in bewilderment and grief, but we wait in hope.’’

Hope Kasper, a Middletown councilwoman and a parishioner at St. Mary’s, had requested that the church hold the memorial Mass. The church was honored to support the men’s families, friends, and co-workers in their grief, said Masnicki, pastor at St. Mary’s.

It was a fitting honor, said Middletown’s mayor, Sebastian Giuliano.

“If you’re a Roman Catholic like I am, the highest thing you can do for someone is to ask that a Mass be offered for them,’’ Giuliano said.

Killed in the Feb. 7 explosion were: Raymond Dobratz Jr., 58, Old Saybrook; Peter C. Chepulis, 48, Thomaston; Ronald Crabb, 42, Colchester; Chris Walters, 48, Florissant, Mo.; Roy Rushton, Hamilton, Ontario; and Kenneth Haskell, 37, New Durham, N.H., who died last week at a hospital.

The families of Crabb, Chepulis, and Dobratz attended the service. Governor M. Jodi Rell, US Senator Christopher Dodd, and several other public officials also attended.

The blast, at the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Middletown, injured 20 others.

Giuliano said the community still is devastated by the explosion and its aftermath.

“You pull together and you get through it,’’ he said.

Emergency workers, many of whom tended to the victims of the blast, lined the back of the church yesterday. The American Red Cross held a reception after the ceremony in the basement of the church.

The pipe and drum band played again as the Mass ended.