Lac-Megantic derailment: Faces of the disaster
The carnage was indiscriminate: young and old, white and black, men and women, early birds and night owls. Some died in their beds, others in the Musi-Café. The Star has compiled a gallery of portraits and biographical sketches spanning this array of victims in the Lac-Mégantic disaster. The 50 or so people now missing are considered to have died in the blast, police say.
A server at the Musi-Café, one of three employees who have been missing.
Gaudreau lived just across the Chaudièdre River, west of the where the train exploded, but she was at the Musi-Cafe, the epicentre of the blast. Her daughter, Estel took to social media in the hours after the massive fire to ask if anyone had seen her mother. But finally it was her son, 13-year-old Edouard, who stepped forward when police came looking for help to identify his mother, Montreal's La Presse reported Wednesday. Investigators came to collect a physical description, clothes and jewellery, and they also asked her devastated son for a blood sample in case pathologists have to resort to DNA samples to confirm her death.
Guy Ouellet was tired and Diane Bizier was not, and that sealed their fates.
The couple, who worked together making doors at Masonite, were out for beers at Musi-Café, where they went several times a week. Ouellet went home early, while Bizier stayed at the bar with her niece.
Back at home, Ouellet heard a boom and then saw his window light up with a flash. Outside, he saw the fire.
For the next four hours, he drove the streets looking for his girlfriend. He never found her.
Latulippe worked as an esthetician at Salon Malya, a beauty parlour on Lac-Mégantic’s main strip. She had been employed at the local business for eight years. When the train derailed and caught fire, Latulippe was likely asleep in her home, about 100 metres away from the salon, at 5140 rue Frontenac.
Jimmy Sirois and Marie-Semie Alliance
Sirois and Alliance lived right near the Musi-Café, at 5047 rue Frontenac, along with their 18-month-old daughter, Milliana, according to the Journal de Montréal. But for a stroke of fate, there might have been three victims. With the heat that descended on the town Friday night, Sirois’ parents came to take the girl to their place in Woborn for an escape from their third-storey apartment. Sirois had to work the next morning. Alliance stayed in to keep him company.
A popular singer from Blainville, Que., just north of Montreal, Bolduc and fellow stage veteran Yvan Ricard, were performing at the Musi-Café on Friday night. They were apparently in between a set. Ricard slipped out onto the patio for a cigarette, allowing him to escape when the wall of flames arrived. Bolduc stayed inside and has not been heard from since. He leaves behind two children and a wife.
Gaétan Lafontaine, Joanie Turmel, Karine Lafontaine, Marie-Noelle Faucher
Lafontaine was one of those attending the 40th birthday of his sister, Josée, on Friday night. When the first explosion occurred, he went in search of his wife, Joanie Turmel. They have two children who are now believed to be orphans. Karine Lafontaine, the wife of Gaétan’s brother, Pascal, was also at the party and is not believed to have survived the blast. Pascal and Karine had two children. Marie-Noelle Faucher was a secretary at the Lafontaine family business, Excavations Lafontaine.
Lapierre was not in the Musi-Café Saturday morning, but above it. He occupied one of four or five apartments located on top of the popular nightspot, said his nephew, who works at a local gas station.
Breton, 28, had finished work at a downtown Lac-Mégantic pharmacy and went to Musi-Café after work to meet with her boyfriend and others. Well known from her appearance on a popular Quebec singing competition, Breton was trapped inside the bar while her boyfriend reportedly escaped within an inch of his life.
The 93-year-old lived at 5172 Boulevard des Vétérans, next to the train tracks. She was an industrious homemaker and neighbour: in the summer, she used to set up chairs on her lawn so she and her friends could listen to the town’s frequent public concerts.
Talitha Coumi Begnouche, Alyssa and Bianka
“For those who know my little sister Talitha . . . she is now in a better place. She and her two girls, Alyssa, 4, and Bianka, 8, lost their lives in the train explosion in Lac-Mégantic,” wrote Talitha’s sister, Nadine, on Facebook Tuesday afternoon. Talitha lived at 4469 rue Laval, about one kilometre from the epicentre of the blast.
Lucie Vadnais ran a daycare next to the lake. “An angel,” said Josée Lemieux, a neighbour who left her son, Benjamin, in Vadnais’s care. Reading a note from Vadnais to the boy, Lemieux’s voice cracks with emotion. “You are now old enough to leave the daycare,” the message reads. “The years pass quickly.”
Vadnais was at the Musi-Café the night of the explosion.
Custeau grew up near the train tracks that brought about his death Saturday morning. At the moment of the explosion he was likely in his apartment near the Musi-Café. “He was a friend for everybody,” said his brother, Richard.
Rouillard lived at 4811 rue Laval, apartment 8, next door to Denis Couture. Couture said Rouillard was receiving treatment for prostate cancer at a retirement home building that appears to have been demolished in the blast. Rouillard has not been heard from since.
Clusiault was a Lac-Mégantic native who was living in Sherbrooke, 100 kilometres to the west, and working as a massage therapist. But the 24-year-old had recently returned home to where her large extended family resides. She was a registered massage therapist and, according to the Rive-Sud-Express, intended to open her own massage clinic very soon. “It was one of the very first nights that she has stayed here, and she didn’t wake up,” said Mario Lafontaine. The apartment was above a driving school at 5069 rue Frontenac.
Boulet owned a women’s clothing store called Marie Loup on rue Frontenac. in downtown Lac-Mégantic, just across the street from the Musi-Café. She also lived alone in the building. Her brother Bernard confirmed that his 62-year-old sister, who has seven sisters and three brothers, is still missing.
Paquet was an avid golfer, who was heavily involved for years with Lac-Megantic’s golf club, said the club’s director, David Laplante, who confirmed that Paquet is still missing. He lived at 5120 Boulevard des Vétérans, one of the hardest hit areas in the disaster.