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Explosion fatal death 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.

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

This scenario was still the preferred one a few months later at 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 of explosives, without being able to comment on the origin explosives used.

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Coroner Francine Danais went to the scene of the drama the next day.

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

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

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

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

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The police deployment on Dubose Street had been imposing.< /p>

He could also 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 went to the scene of the tragedy the evening of the day after the explosion.

The Sûreté du Québec indicated for its part that it continued to assist the coroner if necessary and was unable to specify whether the analyzes from the Laboratory of Judicial Sciences and of forensic medicine of Montreal were completed.

At the Niobec mine, communications advisor Claudia Bolduc mentioned during a telephone interview that the company continues to cooperate in the ongoing investigation and that nothing is closed in this file. The company did not want to make any further comments.

Following its criminal investigation, the SQ 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 in the investigation.

According to different 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 deaths in its report, in addition to making recommendations, when deemed necessary.

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

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 trying to find where it comes from. Where does the person obtain these items? That can be more complex.

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

Retired since 2015, he now works as a security agent for a mine in Northern Quebec. 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 their provenance, he points out.

[In] private companies, it's 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, tighter controls surrounding the management of explosives were requested by women's shelters and the liberal opposition.

Remember 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.

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