Firefighter drowned in Saint-Urbain: he spoke to his sister twice before dying

LA MALBAIE | The sister of volunteer firefighter Régis Lavoie said she spoke to him twice on the phone before he sank into the Gouffre River. So on the water, he wanted to reassure her despite the presence of waves.

• Read also: Drowning of firefighters in Saint-Urbain: a difficult process for families

It was with a very heavy heart and moist eyes that Kathy Lavoie appeared before coroner Andrée Kronström on Tuesday, on the second day of the public inquiry into the death of her brother and another firefighter, there almost a year in Saint-Urbain.

Kathy Lavoie explained that her brother and the other victim, Christopher Lavoie, went to her house on the morning of 1er May 2023.

Kathy Lavoie, sister of the deceased Régis Lavoie, and her husband, Alain Tremblay

Photo Dominique Lelievre

Régis Lavoie wanted to use the Argo, an amphibious vehicle belonging to his sister and her partner, because it was more accessible than his own.

He had received a call and had to go rescue two people trapped in their house, he told his sister who was worried.


“It’s a field of water, there is no danger,” he would have said to reassure her.

Remember that it was while trying to cross a flooded field to rescue the victims that the duo drifted towards the river.

Once on the water, he tries again to reassure his sister. “There is nothing happening, everything is fine,” he would have certified during a first call.

A few minutes later, she calls her brother. “He just told me: ‘he’s starting to have waves, but it’s going to be fine’, and then it went poof, he hung up,” she said.

His other calls went unanswered.

“He said there was no other proposal to the city” and he would have offered to use the Argo, said Lavoie in a press scrum.

Saying that her brother was like a son to her, Mme Lavoie questions this alleged lack of equipment available for rescue.

“Yes, we are frustrated, but what do you want: my brother would have sacrificed his life and he did it,” said the lady, who kept these last conversations with her brother to herself for a long time.

“He [ne] “I couldn’t have known that the river was going to overflow,” she says.

According to what emerges from the testimonies, Régis Lavoie had taken care to attach a boat engine to his Argo. However, the vehicle was equipped with tracks, which could have hindered its progress in the water.

A lot of emotions

It was another very emotional day for the bereaved families.

At the start of the day, Christopher Lavoie’s father reminded the coroner, with a lump in his throat, that his son would have been 24 years old this Wednesday. During the morning, he left the courthouse.

“Of course I think it’s a very emotional day,” said Coroner Kronström, who plans to hold a moment of silence on Wednesday.

Furthermore, a senior officer from the Sûreté du Québec recounted the search and rescue efforts in the first hours, describing the arrival of the helicopter in the skies over Charlevoix as “rapid” at 4:50 p.m. on the may.

However, it was not until May 3 that the bodies were located, after the water level had dropped.

On the other hand, a police diver explained that the flow of water greatly complicated the work of his squad and that it was impossible to launch a boat near the bridge where the tragedy occurred. .

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