Quebec coroner’s hearings into firefighter deaths in Saint-Urbain begin Monday

By The Canadian Press

The Quebec coroner’s public hearings into the deaths of two volunteer firefighters from Saint-Urbain, who lost their lives on May 1, 2023, during a flood in the Charlevoix region, begins on Monday.

Chaired by coroner Andrée Kronström, the public part of the inquest will take place at the La Malbaie courthouse. A first series of hearings will take place from Monday to Wednesday, while other witnesses will be heard on April 29 and 30, and from May 13 to 17.

Kronström’s inquiry will look into the deaths of Christopher Lavoie, aged 23, and Régis Lavoie, aged 55, two volunteer firefighters who lost their lives after falling into the water while trying to go help citizens whose property was flooded following the overflow of the Rivière du Gouffre.

The aim of the inquiry is to propose solutions to better protect human life, but it is not intended to establish the civil or criminal liability of any individual.

On Monday, after the coroner’s opening statement and the administrative proceedings, several civilian witnesses and members of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) will give their version of events.

Marylou Lavoie, Régis Lavoie’s daughter, will testify.

Later in the investigation, other volunteer firefighters from Saint-Urbain, elected municipal officials and rescue experts will give their testimony.

In March, a report by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) revealed more on the deaths of the two firefighters.

As part of their response, the firefighters were travelling in an amphibious vehicle equipped with tracks and an outboard motor, but halfway through the trip, the vehicle began to drift and was swept away by the current, finding himself stuck against a tree.

According to the CNESST, “the lack of training to carry out work near and above water exposes firefighters to the danger of drowning, while they do not have the necessary skills, knowledge and equipment” .

Several recommendations were therefore addressed to the École nationale des pompiers, the Ministère de l’Éducation, the Ministère de la Sécurité publique, the Union des municipalités du Québec and the Fédération québécoise des municipalités.

—This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French and translated by CityNews

Top Stories

Top Stories