Death of two firefighters in Saint-Urbain: emergency calls revealed at the coroner’s inquest

The coroner’s public inquiry into the death on duty of two firefighters in Saint-Urbain began Monday morning by listening to calls made to the emergency services which left no doubt about the seriousness of the event in the moments following the tragedy.

• Read also: Dead firefighters in Saint-Urbain: “It was rising visibly, it was crazy”, remember victims still shaken

• Read also: More than 30 witnesses at the public inquiry which begins Monday in La Malbaie

The general director of the municipality of Saint-Urbain, Martin Guérin, called 911 as soon as he learned that two firefighters had fallen into the raging waters of the Gouffre River, at 1:52 May 2023.

The victims, Christopher Lavoie, 23, and Régis Lavoie, 55, were then trying to help a couple trapped in their residence in Rang Saint-Georges.

  • Listen to the call from Martin Guérin, general manager of Saint-Urbain, to 911:

“I have two firefighters who were on intervention for a rescue. The boat capsized and the two firefighters were missing, [ils] are currently in the Gouffre River and we are not able to locate them,” we can hear the general director say, who is visibly trying to describe the situation as clearly and effectively as possible.

Mr. Guérin, who witnessed the rapid rise in water, saw the two victims board an amphibious vehicle at the start of the operation, but he had however left the scene when the tragedy occurred, explained the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) investigator, Maxime Nolet.

“We do it as quickly as we can”

“All services are deployed. We’ll do it as quickly as we can, okay?” replies the fire department dispatcher, who is trying to find out the best access to the river to send help.

A few moments before, a citizen who was traveling on Route 138, Johny Guérin, had also contacted emergency services to report the tragedy that was unfolding.

“I have just passed in front of the Rivière du Gouffre. I’m sure I saw someone going through the river!” he says in alarm.

“It went by so quickly,” he says.

In another call, we detect a certain fear in the voice of another operator who answers the emergency call from one of the victims to whom the firefighters were trying to help.

In the audio tape which is subject to a publication ban, we can hear the citizen reporting the accident that has just occurred.

The video of a motorist who witnessed the event was also shown in the courtroom, while she was driving on Route 138.

We can see the firefighters aboard their Argo type vehicle, in a body of water which is normally a field, during their emergency intervention.

Screenshot of a video of a motorist where we can see the firefighters aboard their Argo type vehicle.


Compassion and openness

At the start of the day, coroner Andrée Kronström, who chairs the public inquiry, invited everyone to “show compassion and openness” saying she was well aware that the events had “upset” both the bereaved families and the general public. audience.

This feeling is still present, “especially as the anniversary date approaches,” she stressed, while insisting on the fact that “we are not here to find culprits” and that the tragedies of this kind are always “the sum” of several factors.

“What drives me and what will drive everyone here is the quest for truth. There were things that were said. Was it true? There, we put that aside and we will hear the witnesses who will come under oath and we will be able to understand what really happened,” said the coroner who has nearly 24 years of experience.

Compatible with drowning

Examinations carried out on the bodies detected several signs compatible with drowning and everything indicates that the deaths occurred on May 1, the coroner revealed at the start of the hearing.

Christopher Lavoie would also have suffered from internal bleeding probably resulting from a head trauma whose severity was “not necessarily” lethal, but which “probably could” have led to an alteration of the state of consciousness.

The remains soiled with mud were found two days after the tragedy, a few hundred meters further in the river bed. Both were still wearing their firefighter clothes, said Brigitte Bédard, forensic identification technician.

Do you have any information to share with us about this story?

Write to us at or call us directly at 1 800-63SCOOP.

source site-64