Hypothermia death of Gilles Duceppe's mother was preventable, coroner finds
MONTREAL -- A Quebec coroner has ruled the death of Gilles Duceppe's 93-year-old mother after she became trapped in a courtyard at her seniors' residence on a bitterly cold morning was accidental but preventable.
Helene Rowley Hotte Duceppe, the mother of the former Bloc Quebecois leader, died of hypothermia on Jan. 20, when it was minus 35 degrees outside and snowing.
Coroner Gehane Kamel confirmed today that Rowley Hotte Duceppe had left her apartment at Residence Lux Gouverneur after an alarm sounded and became locked outside the building.
She was visible on surveillance video, but staff did not notice her struggling to get inside, nor did they detect her absence from her apartment. Her body was only found six hours later when a family member alerted staff she was missing.
The coroner concluded Rowley Hotte Duceppe had died just a few minutes before being found.
Marc-Antoine Cloutier, a lawyer speaking on behalf of the Duceppe family, says the family is not ruling out legal action against the luxury residence and is calling on the provincial government take action to prevent similar situations in the future.
The coroner made several recommendations, including providing the residence with an intercom system and doorbells for the emergency exits as well as appointing someone to monitor cameras to ensure residents' safety.
The coroner says the Residence Lux Gouverneur agreed to a series of short-term recommendations and has already began implementing them.