(Montreal) The length of the St. Lawrence River last week saw a Montreal firefighter die in a rescue, known as one of the city’s most dangerous for centuries.
Today, Lachin Rapids are, above all, an attraction for river cruisers, sports kayakers and picnickers, but the death of 58-year-old Pierre Lacrois reminds us that Montreal owes its dangerous nature.
One of the four firefighters on the boat last Sunday night, Pierre Lacroix, capsized while trying to help the couple on another boat. While all the others were rescued, Pierre Lacrois was trapped under the boat and died.
Montreal Fire Department spokesman Louis Tesroziers said lifeboats generally avoid going into unpredictable fast currents.
“This is a dangerous area, so boats go upstream to rescue people or go down to pick up rapists,” he said in a phone interview.
Louis Tesrosier has eight fire stations with water rescue units, all of which have specially trained personnel. Calls for help are initially categorized as “engine problem” or “maritime emergency”, which usually occurs when someone is in the water or in immediate danger.
Although sailors involved in the tragedy that claimed the life of Pierre Lacroix initially complained about an engine stall, Louis Tesrociers said he could not confirm how the call was classified. An inquest into his death is still ongoing.
Canadian Coast Guard Deputy Detention Officer Michael Martin describes it as “ruthless” and “a trap.”
He said he has seen more and more sailors, paddlers and fishermen in the water since he started service in 2014 – and some of them are inexperienced or ignorant when they start to get stuck in the current.
He said in a phone interview that Coast Guard submarines, like firefighters, did not rush because the boats were not designed for conditions he could not predict, with rapid currents varying depths of three to three meters per meter and rocks.
We will do everything we can to help those in distress, but not to lose the lives of our members.
Michael Martin, Detention Officer of the Canadian Coast Guard Assistant
Pierre Lacroix is far from the first person to lose his life in fast water. For better or worse, rushing water has shaped the city’s existence since its early days, says historian Denise Crawl.
Denise Crowell, an expert on municipal history, said, “Without rabbits, Montreal would not be Montreal.”
Although the island has long been used as a meeting and fishing area for indigenous peoples, it was also a kind of roadblock for European ship researchers, including Jack Cartier and Samuel de Sampline, who stopped when they learned that their ships could not go above sea level. Six
Until the opening of the Lashin Canal in 1825 to avoid rabies, supplies to the large lakes had to be unloaded in the Montreal area or carried to dry land, which allowed the city to become a commercial and settlement area.
“Since the beginning of European colonization, there have been many stories of shipwrecks and dangers, people who went submerged or fished and did not pay attention,” said Denise Crawl.
One of the first reported incidents was when two of Samuel de Champlain’s associates went to an island near their hometown. Their boat capsized on the way home as the birds climbed, and two of the three drowned.
While the speed could not go west, the boats were still trying to cross them in a different direction. Some were loaded with cargo boats and guided by professional navigators, who, despite their skill, sometimes lost their cargo in the current. Later, steamboats took tourists in search of thrills.
In 1873, one of these boats, Louis Renat, crashed into a crash, avoiding the tragedy of Kahnavake’s Mohawk who came to the aid of the passengers.
There are more recent incidents. In 2010 a fisherman lost his foot and died, and in 2013 a surfer died after falling into a popular standing wave known as the “Habitat 67”. Last summer, a person fell off a boat and went missing.
The number of rescues in Montreal waters appears to be increasing, although rapid events remain stable. The Montreal Fire Department has seen a 30% increase in the number of boating incidents since 2019 – which could be attributed to the increasing popularity of outdoor sports during COVID-19 epidemics, says Luis Desrociers.
Louis Tesrociers notes that it is important for sailors, especially the less experienced, to remember that strong currents in St. Lawrence make navigation difficult. He said it was important for boaters to avoid their boats and the places they travel, drugs and alcohol, and to wear a properly fitted life jacket.
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