A woman whose boyfriend died in the collapse of a snow fort he built in his home's backyard in Chambly, south of Montreal, is warning against building such structures.
"He had gone inside the fort because the opening [doorway] was not big enough," Mélissa Tremblay said about Yan Lavallière, 26, who died Friday afternoon as he was building the snow fort between two sheds.
"He was trying to make the opening bigger, and my son was adding some snow on the top," said Tremblay, who was at work when the accident happened.
That's when the cave-like structure came down and buried Lavallière under a lot of snow, she said.
'Go skating. Build snowmen. But don't make an igloo." —Mélissa Tremblay, girlfriend
A neighbour saw the boy trying to dig through the collapsed structure and rushed to help.
Within minutes, they dug Lavallière out but he had no pulse, said Tremblay.
"I feel horrible. I miss him terribly. The hardest part is that my boy was at the scene when it happened. It is a shock to everyone," said Tremblay.
"All I have to say to everyone is to stop doing it. Yes, it is fun for children, but there are even adults who can die because of this."
Heavy snow increases danger factor
Richelieu-Saint-Laurent police Sgt. Yannick Parent said the case is a sad reminder about the dangers of snow, especially when the weather is mild. He said the moisture can make the snow very heavy.
"Sometimes it doesn't take a lot of snow to jam someone under it," said Parent.
With heavy snowfall forecast for much of Quebec on Monday, Parent said people building snow forts should take precautions including making several exits. Supervision is also critical, he said.
He said an autopsy on Lavallière will be completed this week.
Tremblay said her son is having a difficult time understanding what happened, and hopes other families learn from the tragedy.
"We lost a man who is very dear to us, that we loved a lot," said Tremblay. "Go skating. Build snowmen. But don't make an igloo."