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Fatal explosion in Arvida: coroner's inquest still ongoing after two years

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The coroner Francine Danais was on the scene the day after the tragedy.

  • Myriam Gauthier (Consult the profile)Myriam Gauthier

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The coroner's investigation into the explosion which killed two young children and their father in a residence on rue Dubose, in the Arvida sector, in Jonquière, is still underway two years after the events . The investigation appears to be complex in order to determine the origin of the explosives used.

Two days after this tragedy which occurred on January 10, 2022, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) said it supported the theory of a double murder and a suicide, arguing that the father had deliberately caused the explosion.

This scenario was still favored a few months later during the conclusion of the police force's criminal investigation.

The SQ also confirmed shortly after the explosion that the father worked at the Niobec mine, in Saint-Honoré, and that he had knowledge in the field of explosives, without however being able to comment on the origin of the explosives used.

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The coroner Francine Danais went to the scene of the tragedy the next day.

The coroner's office told Radio -Canada that the investigation by coroner Francine Danais is still underway to shed light on the tragic death of the two children and their father.

The average production time for a coroner's report in 2022-2023 was nine months, according to information on the Coroner's Office website.

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The head of communications to the Coroner's Office, Jake Lamotta Granato, could not comment on the reasons why the investigation is still ongoing two years after the events.

[Coroners] are themselves often dependent on the delays necessary to obtain the documents produced by other organizations, including the expert reports required to determine the causes and circumstances of death, mentioned Mr. Lamotta Granato by email a a little earlier in January.

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The police deployment on Dubose Street had been imposing.

He also could not specify the expected deadlines for the delivery of the coroner's report.

It is difficult to predict the duration of an investigation. Coroners must deliver their reports as quickly as possible and strive to do so by all means, he said.

Coroner Francine Danais did not respond to interview requests from Radio-Canada. She had gone to the scene of the tragedy in the evening the day after the explosion.

For its part, the Sûreté du Québec indicated that it continued to assist the coroner if necessary and could not specify whether the analyzes from the Laboratory of Judicial Sciences and Legal Medicine of Montreal had been completed.

At the Niobec mine, communications advisor Claudia Bolduc mentioned during a telephone interview that the company continues to cooperate in investigation underway and there is nothing closed in this case. The company declined to comment further.

Following its criminal investigation, the SQ had ruled out the involvement of accomplices and ruled out the filing of criminal negligence charges against other people.

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Niobec says it continues to collaborate on investigation.

According to various sources consulted by Radio-Canada who could not speak publicly, it is not surprising that the investigation is still ongoing two years after the events.

The complexity of the scene and the numerous expertise required in such a case would add delays to the investigative work of the coroner, who must expose the causes and circumstances of the three death in its report in addition to making recommendations when deemed necessary.

Former investigator and lieutenant in the Police Department of Saguenay (SPS), Dominique Corneau underlines that the use of explosives and the determination of their origin can complicate the investigative work in such a case.

The complexity is the traceability of the products that were used. This is the entire crime scene. It’s the general analysis of all that, then [you have to] try to find where it comes from, where the person obtains these elements. That can be more complex.

A quote from Dominique Corneau, former investigator and lieutenant in the SPS

Retired since 2015, he now works as a security agent for a mine in Nord-du-Québec. It is clear that the use of explosives is subject to tight management in mines under the Explosives Act.

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Dominique Corneau is a former investigator and lieutenant of the Saguenay Police Department. After retiring, he now works as a security guard in a mine in Nord-du-Québec.

Numerous documents and registers must also be combed through in such an investigation to try to determine the origin of the explosives, he points out.

[In] private companies, these are people who do just that: they have follow-ups. You can't just get these products. There is really close monitoring, specifies Mr. Corneau.

After the tragedy, a tightening of controls surrounding the management of explosives had been requested by women's shelters and by the liberal opposition.

Recall that the Human Rights Commission had also conducted an investigation into this matter since the two young children had been the subject of a report to the Youth Protection Directorate (DPJ). However, no recommendation was made after analyzing the file.

  • Myriam Gauthier (Consult the profile)Myriam GauthierFollow
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116