2013 Award Recipients (for actions in 2012)
On November 25, 2013, the Government of Québec paid public tribute to 25 persons in recognition of their acts of good citizenship in 2012. The Tribute to Good Citizenship ceremony was held in the Legislative Council Chamber of the main Parliament Building, presided over by the Minister of Justice, Bertrand St-Arnaud, who awarded 6 medals and 19 honourable citations.
The recipients were also given a lapel pin, which is a miniature replica of the medal.
The acts of good citizenship highlighted at the 28th Tribute to Good Citizenship ceremony were divided into categories.
Medals for Good Citizenship
The medal for good citizenship, accompanied by a gold lapel pin, may be awarded to a person who has accomplished an act of good citizenship under dangerous circumstances. Made of bronze and engraved with the recipient’s name, the two faces on the medal symbolize both aspects of the theme based on risking one's life to save the life of another.
In the "fire" category, the Government of Québec awarded a medal for good citizenship to:
Pishum André-Gadoury, Montréal
On July 16, 2012, in the afternoon, Pishum André-Gadoury was in the basement of his family’s home on Rue Cuvillier in Montréal when he heard his mother shout that there was a fire in the back alley.
The young man rushed upstairs and then out into the yard. On the other side of the alley, an elderly man, clearly distraught and dressed only in his underclothes, was on the balcony of the building opposite, as thick black smoke poured from his apartment. He remained standing there, despite people shouting to him to come down, and then turned and went back into the apartment.
With difficulty, Pishum André-Gadoury was able to gain access to the yard, go up to the first floor and enter the apartment, where he found the man in the kitchen in a cloud of smoke. He took him by the arm and led him outside, asking him if there was anyone else in the building. The man, disoriented, told him there was nobody, but Pishum still took time to shout a warning in the intense heat. He helped the man descend the spiral staircase to the yard.
Pishum then peered through the windows of the ground-floor apartment, but saw nobody. He went up to the top floor, battling smoke, to see if there was anybody there, and saw a man lying on a couch. He banged on the door, managed to wake him up and urged him to leave the building.
Pishum next went round to the front of the building to let the firefighters know there was an injured man in the yard. The emergency workers took charge of the old man and administered oxygen to Pishum, who was suffering from smoke inhalation.
Thanks to the perseverance of Pishum André-Gadoury, two people escaped with their lives from the fire of July 2012.
Robert Colmor, Pohénégamook
On February 17, 2012, Robert Colmor was at work, in a factory making wooden beams in Pohénégamook. A fellow worker mentioned that there was oil leaking from the dust extractor and that the wood scraps collecting in the bin underneath had caught fire. Robert Colmor helped another colleague untangle a fire hose to put out the fire, but the flames progressed rapidly and reached the dust extractor.
Two other employees, warned of the emergency, grabbed fire extinguishers and climbed up the ladder on the side of the dust extractor. One remained on the first platform and handed the extinguishers to his colleague, who had reached the second platform close to the motor, which was the source of the fire. Despite their efforts, the blaze became even stronger.
Suddenly, the compressed air from one of the extinguishers caused a flashback, catching the two men unawares. The worker on the second platform shouted to his colleague to jump, which he managed to do, escaping with burns to his hands. The other worker was less lucky: he could neither climb down nor jump, since his overalls, soaked in glue, were stuck to the ladder. As the flames reached him he turned into a human torch.
Despite the danger, Robert Colmor climbed up to rescue him. He tried, in vain, to smother the flames with his hands, and then suddenly remembered he had a knife in his pocket. He grabbed it and managed to cut off the burning overalls before helping his severely burned colleague down the ladder. He took care of him until the emergency services arrived a few minutes later.
At the risk of serious injury to himself, Robert Colmor did not hesitate to help a work colleague, saving him from a certain and agonizing death.
Markengton Fonrose, Saint-Hubert
On April 4, 2012, late in the evening, Markengton Fonrose was driving along Rue Clark in Montréal. He noticed a fierce fire burning in a building at the corner of Rue Liège, parked his car, called the emergency services and rushed towards the scene.
The occupants of the quadruplex ran out of the building, followed by belching black smoke. They told him an elderly woman was still in the basement. Markengton decided to go and look for her, assisted by another man who had now arrived on the scene.
Markengton and the other man went down a few steps to the basement, but the smoke was so dense they could not even see the walls. When the reached the woman’s apartment, the source of the fire, they broke down the door.
Sticking together, they advanced slowly into the apartment. Flames were licking at the walls, creating dense, acrid smoke. Quickly, Markengton Fonrose located something on the floor: the inert body of the victim. The two men carried her outside and began to apply resuscitation measures until an ambulance arrived a few minutes later.
Unfortunately, the woman died in hospital, but as the firefighters pointed out, the efforts of Markengton Fonrose and his helper had not been in vain. If the woman’s body had remained in the fire it would have been harder to identify, increasing her family’s suffering.
This brave, fearless action by Markengton Fonrose and an anonymous helper in April 2012 serves as an example for us all.
Réjean Riopel and Vincent-Alexeï Voégelé, Saint-Élie-de-Caxton
On April 25, 2012, around lunchtime, Réjean Riopel was walking with a friend along Avenue Principale in Saint-Élie-de-Caxton. As they passed the house at number 2601, he noticed smoke coming from the back. He ran round to a half-open French window but was unable to enter because of the thick smoke. He then went back to try the front door.
A few moments later, a neighbour from across the street, Vincent-Alexeï Voégelé, also noticed something wrong and decided to come over. He found Réjean Riopel out of breath, with a smoke-blackened face. He had gone twice into the burning house, calling out for the occupant; he had even tried, unsuccessfully, to get to his bedroom on the ground floor by following the sound of his voice.
From the threshold, Réjean Riopel called out that a neighbour, Vincent-Alexeï Voégelé, was there and that he was going to attempt a rescue. However, after taking only a few steps inside the house Vincent-Alexeï was pushed back by the thick smoke. He asked Réjean to get his neighbour to keep on talking so that he could follow the sound of his voice; he then went back inside, this time on his hands and knees. He was finally able to reach the bedroom where he located his neighbour by touch and helped him out of the house.
Firefighters arrived on the scene a few minutes later and took the victim to the hospital in Shawinigan to recover from smoke inhalation. He was released in the evening.
Without the joint efforts of Réjean Riopel and Vincent-Alexeï Voégelé, the man would surely have perished in the fire that devastated his home.
Patrick Trudel, L'Épiphanie
On the morning of March 25, 2012, as he drove along Rue Charpentier in L’Épiphanie, Patrick Trudel thought he could see smoke coming from a location a few roads over. His worst fears were confirmed when he got to Rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville, where a man was lying prostrate on the ground in front of a house. He told him that his elderly parents were still inside.
Patrick Trudel rushed into the house, despite the intense heat and the thick smoke that prevented him from seeing anything. He felt his way up some steps, found a man lying on the kitchen floor and dragged him outside. The man, in his eighties and in a state of shock, told him that his wife was still a prisoner of the flames.
Patrick Trudel went back inside; the floor was hot to the touch and the smoke was even denser than before. He was guided by the victim’s feeble groans, but had to return outside to get some fresh air. He tried again, but was again driven back.
In the meantime, the first firefighter on the scene asked Patrick Trudel to guide him to the victim; the two men once again went back inside.
While he was putting on his breathing apparatus, the firefighter asked Patrick to use an axe to break the windows and let some of the smoke out. A second firefighter arrived on the scene and, together, the two firefighters were able to go into the building and bring out the unconscious woman.
Patrick Trudel helped carry out resuscitation activities until the ambulance arrived. After getting first aid himself, he assisted the volunteers who had rushed to the scene.
Thanks to Patrick Trudel’s courage, cool thinking and previous experience as a firefighter, the couple lived to see another day.
Honourable Citations for Good Citizenship
Honourable citations for good citizenship, accompanied by a silver lapel pin, may be awarded to an individual who has performed an act of courage or dedication under difficult circumstances. The honourable citation is a parchment certificate bearing the recipient’s name.
In the "road accident" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Arnold Murillo, Saint-Jérôme and Andres Bermudez, Montréal
On February 12, 2012, Arnold Murillo was driving towards Montréal on Highway 20; his half-brother, Andres Bermudez, was following in his own car.
Near exit 256, the behaviour of other road users made Arnold Murillo think that something unusual was happening. On his left, he spotted a red car overturned on the passenger side in the median strip; a man was standing in the snow beside the car. Arnold Murillo parked on the shoulder and walked towards the man; in the meantime, Andres Bermudez had also stopped and came to join him.
The man had a head injury and was in a state of shock. He said his wife was still inside the car, and Arnold and Andres pushed through the deep snow, finding the woman unconscious in the passenger seat. Arnold squeezed into the car from the driver’s side and, catching hold of the woman’s coat, was able to pull her out and place her in the care of people who had also stopped on the highway.
Going back to the car, the rescuers noticed a small girl crying in a child’s seat in the rear. Since the closest door was locked, Arnold once again entered the car from the front, unlocked the rear door and opened it from the inside, allowing Andres to pull the child to safety.
Arnold and Andres asked two other men, who had witnessed the scene, to hold the car and stop it toppling over onto its roof.
Arnold and Andres suddenly noticed a baby only a few weeks old in a baby seat right at the back of the car. Andres attempted, in vain, to break the rear window, but succeeded only in cutting his own hand. He had no other choice but to go back inside the car to rescue the baby.
The emergency services arrived a few minutes later and took the situation in hand.
The close cooperation between Arnold Murillo and Andres Bermudez during this daring rescue on a cold winter afternoon helped a young family escape from a perilous situation.
Marc-Antoine Ducharme, Saint-Jean-de-Matha
In the night of April 19, 2012, Marc-Antoine Ducharme was driving on Highway 131 towards Saint-Jean-de-Matha when he saw a burning car lying across the roadway. Carefully steering around the obstacle, Marc-Antoine parked on the shoulder and ran towards the vehicle, which now had flames coming out from underneath the hood.
Glancing towards the car, he saw nobody on the driver’s or passenger’s side. Only when he walked around did he catch sight of a man lying unconscious on the back seat. The flames were now licking at the passenger compartment.
Marc-Antoine quickly opened the door, grabbed the unconscious man by the armpits, pulled him out and dragged him to safety fifty metres away. He covered the man with his coat, called 911 and gave a brief description of the scene. Less than two minutes had elapsed since his arrival, and the car tires were already bursting under the intense heat.
Another driver stopped but, seeing that the situation was under control, he simply kept Marc-Antoine and the victim company until the emergency services arrived.
The victim had regained consciousness but was in a state of shock and in severe pain. After seven or eight minutes, paramedics, police officers and firefighters were in attendance.
Despite his young age and the imminent danger, Marc-Antoine Ducharme demonstrated remarkable presence of mind when he saved the driver from an atrocious fate.
Nicolas Laflamme and Régis Potvin, La Malbaie
On November 24, 2012, Nicolas Laflamme and Régis Potvin were on the late-afternoon bus taking Atom-level hockey players back home to various villages in the Charlevoix region. There were about 35 people on board.
Shortly after departing, the two men noticed that the bus, travelling at around 60 km/h, was heading towards the right shoulder. They shouted out to the driver to find out what was happening, but got no response. They stood up and moved to the front of the bus. Nicolas Laflamme was behind the driver, while Régis Potvin was to his right, in the aisle. The driver had his mouth and eyes open, his hands on the wheel and his foot on the accelerator, but he was unconscious.
Suddenly, the bus hit the concrete kerb on the right side of the road, and then ran into two vehicles, plus a third, larger vehicle before heading towards a winter garage and a house about ten metres further on.
Nicolas Laflamme grabbed the steering wheel to bring the bus back onto the road, while Régis Potvin sat on the driver’s lap, braced himself against the wheel and stretched out his left leg to apply the brakes. The two men were able to stop the vehicle.
While another parent called the emergency services, Nicolas Laflamme and Régis Potvin carried the driver out, laid him out on the ground and checked his vital signs. The man was groaning and breathing with difficulty.
Régis Potvin went back to the bus to turn off the engine and reassure parents and children. Nicolas Laflamme and some other people took care of the driver until the arrival of the emergency services a few minutes later. The driver was taken to hospital.
The cool reaction of Nicolas Laflamme and Régis Potvin allowed an accident to be averted on a late November afternoon.
Pierre Valois, Boucherville
On May 27, 2012, after dark, Pierre Valois was driving on Highway 40 close to Repentigny with his spouse and a friend. They were following a small white car, which suddenly started to swerve dangerously. They dropped back to a safe distance.
A few seconds later, the inevitable happened: the small car hit the central barrier and tipped over onto the passenger side. Pierre Valois managed to avoid a collision and stopped a short distance away. He asked his spouse to call for help while he ran over to the damaged vehicle.
As he came closer, Pierre Valois noticed small flames coming from under the hood. He climbed onto the car to reach the driver’s door and managed to open it. The woman driver was conscious but in shock.
As he tried in vain to pull the woman from the car, Pierre Valois was helped by another driver who had stopped to offer assistance. The two men were able to move the woman to safety on the shoulder. Pierre Valois knew that she was injured because his hands, arms and clothes were covered in blood. The emergency services arrived after ten minutes and took control of the situation.
Without hesitation, Pierre Valois helped the victim of this road accident in May 2012.
In the "fire" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
René Martel, Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel
During the night of May 20, 2012, René Martel was at home in Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel when a young woman knocked on the door to tell him that a fire was burning out of control on the other side of the street. He ran over to the house, inhabited by an elderly couple. Seeing their car in front of the burning garage, he realized they must be at home. He broke down the main door into the house, already filled with thick smoke, and headed to the back before looking for the staircase to the upper floor.
René Martel quickly climbed the stairs, opened the door to the first bedroom, which was empty, and then opened a second door to a room where the couple’s grandchild was asleep. He took the child in his arms and went to the third bedroom, where the couple were in bed. Standing at the foot of the bed, he shook their legs and shouted at them to get out as quickly as possible because the house was on fire. Thinking he had roused them, he left the bedroom, went downstairs and crossed the road to place the child in his wife’s care. Noticing that his neighbours had not followed, he went back into the house.
René Martel returned to the upper floor, through smoke that was by now so dense he could barely see the outline of the two elderly people, still in their bed. This time, he pulled the man out of bed by the hand and asked him to keep hold of his wife. All three were able to leave the house safety. Barely four minutes had gone by since René Martel had first learned of the fire; the house was completely destroyed.
The elderly couple owe their lives to the courage and determination of their neighbour, René Martel.
In the "risk of drowning" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
Richard Bergeron, Saint-Maurice and David Beauchemin, Saint-Roch-de-l'Achigan
On the morning of October 13, 2012, Richard Bergeron was driving along Highway 40 in Yamachiche. Suddenly, a white-tailed deer bounded out of the woods onto the road and collided with the car in front of him. Under the force of the impact, the car veered off the highway and ended up in a ditch, upside down in a metre and a half of freezing, muddy water.
Richard Bergeron parked on the shoulder. By this time another driver, David Beauchemin, had stopped and ventured into the ditch. In the water up to his chest, he unsuccessfully tried to open the door on the passenger side. Richard Bergeron came to help on the driver’s side, with water up to his neck. After several attempts he managed to open the door.
Diving down into the muddy water, Richard felt his way to a person he was able to grab by the arm and drag from the vehicle. It was a woman, in a state of shock, who told him that there were two other people in the car. Richard went back and, after feeling his way around, found a second woman passenger he was able to pull to safety.
Richard told David Beauchemin that he was frozen and exhausted and could not go back another time. David Beauchemin took his place; gripping the outside of the vehicle, he used his legs to detect another person inside. Plunging his arms and face into the water he was able to extract the driver, white-faced and semi-conscious, unable to breathe in the submerged car.
The two rescuers and the driver climbed the bank to where the two passengers were sitting in shock and shivering. They waited for the emergency services, which arrived a few minutes later.
Richard Bergeron and David Beauchemin helped ensure that a simple collision did not become a tragedy for the three occupants of the vehicle.
Laurence-Olivier Brossard, Bassin and Alexandre Lavallée, Gaspé
On March 11, 2012, residents and visitors were flocking to the icepack off the beach at Étang-des-Caps to observe the seal pups, a spring ritual on the Magdalene Islands.
Around the middle of the afternoon, two Magdalene Island residents were going back to their car on a little-used trail. Suddenly, the ice gave way under the man, who slid into the water. Seeing nobody else near at hand, his companion grabbed him by the hand and pulled with all her might—but to no avail. In fact, her manoeuvre caused the ice to crack, and she too plunged into the water.
Frightened, and separated from her partner, she called for help. Hearing her cries, Alexandre Lavallée rushed to the rescue. Without any clear idea how to proceed and since no other bystanders appeared willing to help, the young man stretched out on the ice and reached towards the woman. Although he was unable to pull her out, because of her waterlogged clothes, he nevertheless prevented her from sinking.
Hearing the shouts of Alexandre Lavallée, Laurence-Olivier Brossard arrived on the scene. He took over from Alexandre Lavallée, exhausted from the effort of keeping the woman’s head out of the water.
Since the other bystanders still remained at a distance, Laurence-Olivier had no other choice but to make one last attempt. Bracing his knee against the ice, he managed to drag the woman from the water. Seizing the man under his arms, he pulled him out too. Safe and sound, the man and woman were taken back home.
Thanks to their determination, Alexandre Lavallée and Laurence-Olivier Brossard took action to make sure that a fine spring afternoon did not end in tragedy for a couple from the Magdalene Islands.
André Fortier, Lanoraie
On July 29, 2012, André Fortier and his spouse were enjoying the afternoon in a park on the banks of the St. Lawrence in Lanoraie. The couple watched a man and a woman kayaking about forty metres out from shore.
Suddenly, the kayaks were hit by the wake of a passing ship, and the man’s kayak capsized. He managed to right his craft and keep his grip, but as his strength failed he began to slip under water. He desperately, but unsuccessfully, tried to grab hold of the paddle held out by his companion.
André Fortier, a trained first-aider, called out to the couple who were shouting for help. He ran down the steep slope to the river and, without undressing or even taking off his shoes, dived in and swam out to the victim.
Although he had already sunk three times before returning to the surface, the victim remained conscious. André Fortier came alongside and told him to stay calm, while trying to reassure him. He seized his arm and began to swim back to shore, at the same time towing the other kayak.
Back on the beach, and after catching their breath, André Fortier and the couple climbed the steps leading to the promenade. André Fortier asked the man if he needed an ambulance but he declined, saying he was fine. At this point, André Fortier and his companion simply went back home.
André Fortier’s courageous and selfless action on a July afternoon clearly saved a human life.
Aline Payeur and Francis Payeur, Ascot Corner
On November 23, 2012, in the late afternoon, Francis Payeur’s mother was at home in Ascot Corner. Outside, her husband was playing hockey with his grandson, aged 9, on a frozen pond on the family property. Suddenly, the ice broke under the boy’s weight, and as his grandfather rushed to help, he too fell into the water. The child’s grandmother ran to warn his father, Francis, who lived in the neighbouring house.
When he arrived at the scene, Francis found his father and son hanging on to the ice, with difficulty, about fifteen metres from firm ground. He picked up a plastic oar and moved forward so that his son could catch hold of it—but the ice gave way again, and Francis too was in the water. He tried several times to push his son to safety, but this only made the situation worse, since the thin ice gave way continually.
Francis asked his mother, standing by the pond, to slide over a nearby windsurfing board to take the weight of the young boy and his grandfather. He also told his daughter, aged 7, to run to get help at the house of Aline Payeur, an aunt who lived nearby.
The grandmother tried to push the windsurfing board across the ice, but was unable to do so. She picked up the oar and moved onto the ice, despite the pleas of Francis who attempted to dissuade her. She also ended up in the water.
Francis was able to struggle out of the pond. He crawled across the ice and pushed the board towards his mother and son, who were able to catch hold. In the meantime, his father had disappeared under the water. Francis left to seek help and ran into Aline, who was heading for the pond. When she got to the jetty, the grandmother, still clinging to the board, shouted that her grandson had also sunk out of sight.
Aline Payeur pulled a nearby dinghy over to the pond and, using two hockey sticks as makeshift oars, was able to pull the grandmother into the boat. The firefighters who had arrived in the meantime pulled the two women to safety. Later that evening, they located the two remaining bodies in the pond.
This dramatic incident reminds us all how little it takes for an everyday incident to turn into a tragedy.
Alexandre Rathé, Lachine
On January 28, 2012, Alexandre Rathé and his spouse were at their cottage in Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley, on the shore of Lac Massawippi. Alerted by shouts, they saw that a neighbour had gone into the water after falling through the ice. Alexandre Rathé went out onto the balcony and shouted that he was on his way.
The man was struggling in the water and attempting to find a handhold on the ice, which carried on breaking as the hole got larger. Alexandre Rathé rushed to his shed, picked up two life jackets, a nylon rope and a paddle; outside, he got his kayak and launched it into the lake. He paddled across five metres of open water and then had to start breaking the ice with his foot to move forwards. Once he got to a spot he considered safe in terms of water depth, he tried to throw his rope to the man, but it was too light. His next attempts failed too, forcing him to move closer.
Another neighbour who had arrived at the scene threw a life jacket over to add weight to the rope. Alexandre continued to move forwards and finally managed to throw the weighted rope across to the victim. He asked the man to tie himself to the rope, but he was unable to do so because of his frozen, injured fingers. Next, Alexandre asked him to hold on to the rope and began to pull him out. At first, progress was difficult, but at last the man managed to grab onto a rough piece of ice and haul himself from the water.
Back on the shore, Alexandre Rathé’s wife, a doctor, took care of the man until the ambulance technicians arrived.
Ice rescues are often dangerous, and the exploit accomplished by Alexandre Rathé in January 2012 was no exception to the rule.
Francis St-Cyr, Pincourt
On July 24, 2012, Francis St-Cyr, a young man employed by the city of Coteau-du-Lac, was carrying out maintenance work on the bike path around Lac Saint-François, close to the Coteau 1 dam. That afternoon, he was working alongside another employee and a foreman.
The three men noticed a young boy crying beside the path. He said he had lost sight of his parents in the water. Running down to the water’s edge, Francis and his colleague found another child and saw the boys’ father struggle out of the water, completely out of breath. Pointing towards the rapids close to the dam, the man told them his wife was still in the water but did not know if she was still alive.
Francis St-Cyr and his colleague ran towards the dam, trying desperately to locate the woman. Hearing her voice above the sound of the rapids, they finally caught sight of her, clinging to metal bolts on the dam.
Francis asked his colleague to go and find a rope. In the meantime, he climbed over a fence, topped with barbed wire, to get to a platform on one of the dam’s pillars; the woman was eight metres below him.
At this point, a cyclist arrived on the scene and explained to the young man how to tie a strong knot; he threw the rope to the woman who was able to catch hold but, exhausted, was beginning to lose consciousness.
Francis and the cyclist, who was by now on the platform, lay down at full length and held on to the rope. Francis continued talking to the victim to reassure her and keep her conscious. A few minutes later, a rescue team alerted by the work foreman arrived on the scene.
Despite his young age, but with remarkable assurance, Francis St-Cyr took action to save a young mother’s life.
Gabriel Tremblay and Yvon Tremblay, Desbiens
On the morning of January 6, 2012, 17-year-old Gabriel Tremblay jumped onto his snowmobile to go and join friends fishing on the ice on Lac Saint-Jean, across from Desbiens.
As he travelled across the lake, he saw that his great-uncle had stopped a dozen metres in front of him to test the ice with a pole. Gabriel did not know it yet, but his great-uncle had noticed a crack in the ice that was getting wider. Suddenly, Gabriel saw his great-uncle disappear into the waters of Lac Saint-Jean after the ice broke under his feet.
Gabriel rushed over to help. He lay down on the ice, stretched out his hand and managed to catch hold of his great-uncle and stop him from sinking. Quickly, however, he realized he needed help, because the victim and his heavy, waterlogged clothes were more than the frail teenager could manage.
A little further on, Yvon Tremblay, who had just finished a morning’s fishing, noticed what was happening and rushed over to help Gabriel. He too lay down on the ice and caught hold of the older man and, together, they were able to pull him onto the ice. The unfortunate victim, in his seventies, was frozen, soaked through and in shock, but still able to walk. Gabriel Tremblay placed him on the snowmobile and took him back home, while Yvon Tremblay, realizing that the young man was in control of the situation, left the scene. The teenager was still able to join his friends on the lake later that day.
Thanks to the close cooperation between Gabriel and Yvon Tremblay, Gabriel’s great-uncle is still alive today.
In the "other circumstances" category, the Government of Québec awarded an honourable citation for good citizenship to:
André Larouche, Verchères
On January 13, 2012, in mid-afternoon, André Larouche, the head of the Verchères fire department, was at the reception desk at city hall. He noticed, close by, a citizen well known for his disputes with a neighbour; he was carrying a black garbage bag. André Larouche saw the man walk towards the office of the city manager, who was there with his assistant.
André Larouche went to see a colleague whose office was next-door to the city manager’s office. He noticed that the tone of the conversation between the manager, his assistant and the man had gone from calm to anger. Suddenly he heard someone shout “Don’t do that!”
André Larouche quickly went to the door of the office and, through the glass, saw the man strike the city manager on the head with a butcher’s knife, while the manager tried to protect himself as best he could by holding a chair between them. Opening the door, André Larouche discovered the assistant lying on the floor with a serious head injury; there was blood everywhere.
Dropping his head and shoulders, like a football player about to tackle an opponent, André Larouche threw the aggressor to the floor. As he struggled to control him, with one knee on the man’s stomach and pinning his hands, he shouted at the two victims to get help. He held the man on the floor for the next fifteen minutes until the arrival of the police.
The two injured men were treated for deep cuts to the head. Tragically, and unknown to the participants in the office fight, the man had just murdered his neighbour.
The incident could have had unimaginable consequences if André Larouche had not intervened so swiftly and calmly.