Montreal firefighter dead after falling into St. Lawrence River from rescue craft during rescue mission on Sunday


MONTREAL – A Montreal firefighter has died after falling into the St. Lawrence River during a rescue mission Sunday night.

Mayor Valerie Plante on Monday offered her condolences to the family and colleagues of the firefighter, who apparently became trapped on a rescue craft after it capsized and sunk.

“They give their lives to save the lives of others, and that is exactly what happened (Sunday),” Plante told reporters.

Montreal’s fire chief, Richard Liebmann, said a camera was used Monday morning to confirm that the firefighter appeared to be on the submerged boat beneath the Lachine rapids.

“It’s in a spot that’s very dangerous for divers to get him, so we have numerous action plans underway with other boats, other ways of getting the firefighter out of this situation, stuck in the structure of the boat under the water,” Liebmann told reporters.

Neighbouring fire departments had joined in the search, along with the Montreal police department’s nautical unit.

Quebec provincial police said a vessel carrying four Montreal firefighters was dispatched at about 7:10 p.m. Sunday to rescue two occupants of a boat that was in trouble in the area of the rapids, in the southwestern Montreal borough of LaSalle.

The boaters in distress were saved, but for an unknown reason the fire department rescue boat then capsized.

Three of the firefighters were rescued and taken to hospital, as were the two boaters who had initially been rescued, but the fourth firefighter could not immediately be found.