Two days after their disappearance, the bodies of the two firefighters missing in the Saint-Urbain sector were found on Wednesday in the Gouffre River, not far from Baie-Saint-Paul. An investigation is still ongoing into the circumstances surrounding this case.
It was shortly before 10 a.m. on Wednesday that the Sûreté du Québec helicopter first located a first body in the Saint-Urbain sector. “In all likelihood, it could be one of the two people missing in the same area since last Monday,” said Sergeant Béatrice Dorsainville.
According to our information, it was Régis Lavoie, the 55-year-old firefighter, information which has not, however, been officially confirmed by the Sûreté du Québec, which maintains that the identification must first “be carried out at the satisfaction of the coroner”. Relatives have, however, been notified.
A few hours later, at the end of the day, the authorities located a second body, near where the first had been found, presumably that of Christopher Lavoie, 24, whose family has also been informed. “We are continuing our investigation into the causes and circumstances surrounding this event and are working closely with various partners, including the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST),” insisted Ms. Dorsainville.
The first body was discovered at chemin Saint-Laurent, between Saint-Urbain and Baie-Saint-Paul, a few kilometers from where the two men had disappeared. At the time of the events, the body was difficult to access, stuck on the edge of an island, the current being still quite strong in the area. Rescue workers were dropped off by helicopter to secure the body, then they moved it to a nearby beach, where it could be covered with a white sheet.
Around 2 p.m. Monday, Christopher Lavoie and Régis Lavoie were swept away while trying to help residents struggling with flooding in Saint-Urbain, a small town half an hour north of Baie- St.Paul.
Christopher Lavoie had been a volunteer firefighter for a year and a half, says his father. Régis Lavoie, he had been for twenty years, was able to confirm La Presse. “He loved that job. […] I understand my son’s adrenaline, but how much was he influenced in these decisions? Who is going to take responsibility for all this? “, was in particular questioned Davy Lavoie in an interview, earlier this week.
For André Bourassa, acting vice-president of the Quebec Federation of Fire Safety Responders, this is another “loss” for Quebec firefighters. “Our thoughts are obviously with the families. Nobody becomes a firefighter in order to lose his life. Rather, we want to do everything to help others, ”he regrets on the phone.
“We have lost several firefighters in the last year and a half, after Montreal, Quebec, Lac-Saint-Jean and now Charlevoix. It’s really unfortunate,” continues Mr. Bourassa.
Other observers clearly mentioned on Wednesday the lack of training of firefighters in the event of major floods. In a press briefing, Prime Minister François Legault did not rule out reviewing the training of firefighters. “We have to ask ourselves questions and we will do the necessary analyses,” he briefly explained, without going any further.
The search to find the two firefighters had been started on Monday by the SQ, with the support of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Twenty patrollers on foot and in all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), a helicopter, boats, a drone and divers were also deployed by the police force for this purpose, Sergeant d’Orsainville said at the time.
Remember that the city of Baie-Saint-Paul had been cut in two following a historic flood on Monday. Nearly 1,000 people found themselves isolated. In the afternoon, Tuesday, the Leclerc bridge was however reopened to traffic, so that the city is no longer split in two.