A firefighter stands on the shoreline of the St.Lawrence River Monday, October 18, 2021, where a firefighter drowned during a rescue operation in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

A firefighter stands on the shoreline of the St.Lawrence River Monday, October 18, 2021, where a firefighter drowned during a rescue operation in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Montreal firefighter dead after falling into St. Lawrence River during rescue mission

Boaters in distress saved, but for an unknown reason fire department rescue boat then capsized

A Montreal firefighter has drowned after falling into the St. Lawrence River during a rescue mission Sunday night, officials announced Monday.

Authorities confirmed the body was recovered from the water with the help of Montreal police divers on Monday morning.

The firefighter was identified as Pierre Lacroix, a married father of two who worked out of Fire Station 64 in the borough of Lachine.

Lacroix was transported to hospital on Monday morning where the death was confirmed.

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 Lachine rapids in southwestern Montreal.

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 saved, but Lacroix could not immediately be found.

“Firefighter Lacroix made the ultimate sacrifice coming to the assistance of two people,” fire Chief Richard Liebmann said in announcing his death.

Earlier Monday, Mayor Valérie Plante offered her condolences to Lacroix’s family and colleagues. “They give their lives to save the lives of others, and that is exactly what happened (Sunday),” she told reporters. She announced the city would lower flags to half-mast in honour of Lacroix.

Liebmann said a camera was used Monday morning to confirm that the missing firefighter was trapped on the submerged boat beneath the rapids. He told reporters the circumstances surrounding how the boat capsized remain under investigation but noted the area where the incident occurred is a dangerous one.

Liebmann thanked neighbouring fire departments and other organizations who had joined in the search along with the Montreal police department’s nautical unit.

—The Canadian Press

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