As soon as the Mayor of Bromont, Pauline Quinlan, heard of an accident at a Montreal paddling event, she immediately emailed her colleague, Jean Langevin, to make sure he was safe.
“I never got an answer to my email,” she explained. “This morning when I got up, our chief of police was on the phone with me telling me that it was Mr. Langevin that was involved in the accident.”
Jean Langevin, 59, has now been identified as the kayaker who passed away from an accident on the Rivierès des Prairies Friday. He had been serving as the city’s director general since 2014.
Langevin was taking part in Circuit-Bleu – a four-day tour of the Island of Montreal that raises money for children with cancer.
Quinlan said Langevin was invited by his co-worker, who had cancer herself several years ago.
“We thought it was quite a commitment and very nice that he would do this to support her of course, but also, to support the cause,” Quinlan said.
Officials say the current pushed the pair’s kayak up against a buoy.
The boat then became tangled up in the chain that was holding the buoy in place.
Fire officials said they were able to rescue Langevin’s co-worker but the 59-year-old did not make it.
After he was pulled from the water, he was transported to Sacré-Cœur hospital, where he passed away Friday evening.
Certified sea kayak instructor Marco Weber, said the White Horse Rapids are known to be full of buoys and can sometimes be tough to navigate.
“Always avoid the obstacle downstream because of the drift,” he said. “If you underestimate the drift, you’re done – you hit the buoy.”
Weber was also the event’s chief guide for the last two years, but decided not to return this time around, citing safety reasons.
According to Weber, as far as he knows, there are no experience requirements for participation in the event.
“To do this, prior to the event, they should encourage people to do FQCK Level 1,” he said. “What you’ll learn in level 1, which is very important is how to exit your kayak upside down.”
Quinlan admits she doesn’t believe Langevin was an expert, but he had been training prior to the event.
“I know that they had been practicing for this event but I don’t know, I don’t think he was necessarily an experienced kayaker,” Quinlan said.
The foundation declined our request for an on-camera interview, but in a statement to Global News the foundation said they would be offering their full collaboration to officials for an investigation.