Gatineau man suffers serious electric shock working to halt flood

A Gatineau man remains in critical condition after he suffered an electric shock while helping a neighbour build a sandbag wall around her flooded Gatineau home on Saturday.

Richard Lafontaine remained in hospital Monday in critical condition

Diane Parisien and Andre Beaudin are worried for their neighbour after he suffered an electric shock on Saturday. (Judy Trinh/CBC)

A Gatineau man remains in critical condition after he suffered an electric shock while helping a neighbour build a sandbag wall around her flooded Gatineau home on Saturday.

Richard Lafontaine had been helping his neighbour Diane Parisien on De la Gappe Boulevard in the Touraines neighbourhood just west of Highway 50 when on Saturday afternoon he fell into electrified water.

Parisien said Lafontaine had been helping all weekend.

"We stayed all night and all day with him ... he said, 'You go in bed, you go lay down.' So we went and laid down in the basement and then came back and I said it's your turn to go to sleep," she said.

Richard Lafontaine was taken to hospital on May 6, 2017, after he suffered an electric shock while building a sandbag barrier for homes on De la Gappe Boulevard in Gatineau. (Supplied)

"But he said no, no everything is under control. He kept working and working."

Faris Mirza was walking in the neighbourhood when he saw people around Lafontaine frantically coming to his aid. Mirza said he and another woman began administering CPR.

"She started giving him pumps 40, 50 pumps, then I started breathing into his mouth and ... he came back," he said.

Mirza returned Monday and was warmly greeted by Lafontaine's family, but didn't get good news: Lafontaine was still in critical condition. As well, flood waters from the Gatineau River had also pushed through the wall of sandbags the neighbourhood had been working on.

Parisien's partner Andre Beaudin said they had moved their belongings into their garage as a precaution, but it too had flooded.

"Furniture, clothes, you mention it ... what you have in the house [it's] gone," he said.


Using pumps near water

The City of Gatineau has posted the following information about using pumps that could come into contact with water:

The risk of electric shock is higher in wet or humid areas. When using pumps or other devices that could come into contact with water, it is strongly recommended to use a differential circuit breaker, commonly called Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

This device protects the electric circuits from power surges that could cause death or severe injuries.

(Source: City of Gatineau, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story identified a woman who performed CPR on Lafontaine as his daughter. In fact, the woman was unrelated to Lafontaine.
    May 14, 2017 6:06 PM ET

With files from Judy Trinh