‘She could have been saved five times’: Family of woman drowned in her vehicle in front of helpless firefighters are angry and struggling to grieve

Mourning is “very difficult” to overcome for the family of the young notary who died two months ago in the South River in Montmagny, under the helpless gaze of a dozen firefighters, who could not help her due to lack of training.

• Read also: Prisoner of her vehicle, a notary drowns in front of helpless rescuers

Joined by The newspaperthe victim’s father, Bertrand Potvin, cannot explain why the municipality of Montmagny has still not trained its firefighters to carry out nautical rescues (see other text).

“I wonder what it’s gonna take […] Are they waiting for another gratuitous death?” he dropped, still shaken by the tragic events.

On April 21, her daughter, Josyane Tanguay-Pelletier, 36, lost her life when the car she was riding in sank in the icy waters of the river.

She remained trapped in the car, which floated for nearly 25 minutes under the helpless gaze of first responders and a witness, who kept in touch with her until the last second.

For some unexplained reason, Josyane Tanguay-Pelletier’s vehicle ended up in the Rivière du Sud, near Chemin des Cascades in Montmagny.

Photo QMI Agency, Marcel Tremblay

In the days that followed, The newspaper revealed that the municipality’s fire safety department has had the boat necessary to carry out nautical rescues since August 2020, but is slow to train its firefighters.

“That child died, they stole her. She could have been saved five times,” says Mr. Potvin with emotion.

Interviews refused

For his part, the head of the Fire Safety Department of the City of Montmagny, Pierre Boucher, did not wish to answer our questions in this regard.

The mayor, Marc Laurin, also refused our requests for interviews.

Moreover, to date, no member of the municipal administration has contacted the family of the victim, to offer him explanations or messages of sympathy.


The parents of Josyane Tanguay-Pelletier do not understand why no one was able to come to the aid of their daughter, when the car in which she was riding fell into the Rivière du Sud, in Montmagny, on April 21. From left to right, the victim’s mother, Marise Tanguay, Josyane Tanguay-Pelletier, 36, and her father, Bertrand Potvin.

Many questions remain

For the moment, the causes of the tragedy remain unknown. “Did she have any discomfort? Is it the car that got carried away?” questions Mr. Potvin, every day.

“The pain is great, because if she had hit a concrete wall, or a ten-wheeler, she would have died instantly and there is nothing you can say or do in front of that. But, when she is alive for twenty-five minutes, corresponding visually and asking for help, that’s what’s the hardest part, ”adds the bereaved father.

Mr. Potvin hopes to get more answers with the coroner’s report, which should be made public in the coming months.

Firefighters in shock

The firefighters of the City of Montmagny do not understand why the boat which could have made it possible to intervene more quickly with the young notary last April 21 had been “sleeping” for nearly three years and why they were never trained to use it.

Several firefighters from the City of Montmagny, but especially those who were at the scene of the tragedy, are still struggling to recover from this “traumatic ordeal”.

Some of them agreed to confide in the Logbut on condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisals.

It is that a week after the tragedy, the Fire Safety Department sent a press release to all its employees, reminding them that they were not authorized to give “any information whatsoever” in connection with the fire. event, under their code of ethics.

“Your discretion during your private interviews and your daily meetings testify to your solidarity with your team”, we can read.

“Feeling of helplessness”

However, the firefighters interviewed say that the “feeling of helplessness” they experienced during the events is still very heavy to bear.

“Some still have difficulty leaving their homes,” we are told.

Better equip cities

While tragedies involving firefighters have made headlines in recent months, including the death of two volunteer firefighters in Saint-Urbain and that of Pierre Lacroix in 2021, the Ministère de la Sécurité publique is working on the creation of a “frame of reference”, to “equip emergency responders from local and regional authorities during nautical rescue interventions”.

The document, which should be made public at Christmas, will serve in particular to “improve and standardize” existing practices in the field of nautical rescue in Quebec.

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