Safe at home but powerless, Stéphanie Couture exchanged texts with her partner Mickael Fiset as the snow closed in and buried his truck overnight Tuesday.
Fiset and his friend and co-worker, Pierre Thibault, had left the transport firm where they worked late that evening in a blinding blizzard. They didn't get far, ending up stuck on the snow-covered main road in Saint-Pierre-de-la-Rivière-du-Sud, about 80 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.
"He texted me all night, until midnight or 12:45 a.m.," Couture said. "I imagine that's when he started slipping away."
The next morning, Fiset, 33 and Thibault, 41, were found dead inside the vehicle by the provincial police.
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The cause of their deaths has not yet been released. The bodies have been sent for autopsies.
Fiset felt safe inside of truck
The texts that came in between 10:40 p.m. and just before 1 a.m. ET are a record of the last conversations Couture had with Fiset.
Couture said Fiset was reaching out to people for help throughout the evening.
"No one wanted to go there," she said.
The men had contacted tow-truck operator Gilbert Samson, who said he couldn't make it to them and encouraged them to find refuge at a home nearby. Samson said at the height of the storm, he couldn't even make out the road.
Couture said the men contacted the municipality and their employer, as well as police.
A police search-and-rescue team looked for the men throughout the night, using geo-location from one of the men's cell phones. But they weren't able to find the vehicle until the next morning, buried in the snow.
'He had so much future ahead of him. He left the house, and he didn't come back' - Stéphanie Couture
Couture said Fiset told her he left the truck at one point to see if someone was home at a nearby residence. But with no response, he returned to the vehicle.
"He told me, 'I feel safe in the truck,'" Couture said. "I told him to pay attention to the exhaust pipe."
By midnight, windows were only escape route
She said by midnight, they were no longer able to open the doors of the pick-up truck and could only get out through the windows. Thibault was having an asthma attack, as well.
Couture said she doesn't understand why more wasn't done to try to find the truck, parked on the side of Highway 20.
"Not enough was done," Couture said. "It's certain that he would be alive today."
"He had so much future ahead of him. He left the house, and he didn't come back."
One final message
The last text message came in at 12:58 a.m. ET
Couture said the words were jumbled, but she said the first two words were clear.
He wrote, "Mon amour."