Man who died after canoe capsized in frigid St. Lawrence River identified as Daniel Malenfant
The physiotherapist and experienced ice canoe paddler was immersed in icy waters for half an hour
The Sûreté du Québec has identified the victim of Wednesday's ice canoe accident in Quebec City as 39-year-old Daniel Malenfant.
Malenfant was one of five paddlers in the boat that was heading back to shore after their ice canoe practice near l'Anse au Foulon, southwest of the Plains of Abraham, in the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence River.
When their canoe capsized, Malenfant was swept away by the current while the other four canoeists managed to swim ashore.
Malenfant, a physiotherapist and experienced ice canoe paddler, had been in the water about 30 minutes when he was finally rescued.
He was in a state of respiratory arrest and was taken to hospital with a case of severe hypothermia.
Police say the man, originally from Rivière-du-Loup, died not long afterward.
Olivier Hubert-Benoit, one of the survivors, told CBC that he had three friends in town from Calgary and wanted to show them around.
"We were taking photos, having a good time," he said.
Hubert-Benoit said strong waves flipped the boat, and then they all started swimming back.
"Water started coming in fast. The canoe was filling with water," he said. "Daniel didn't start swimming. He maybe stayed back with the canoe, I don't know."
He described how the remaining four made it to the bank and climbed up to go and get help.
One of the people who helped with the rescue effort, Benoit Fournier, said that he tried to help Malenfant.
"There was one man who was still in the water, he was close to the shore," said Fournier. "We tried to throw him a buoy, but it didn't work. He was swept out."
Hubert-Benoit extended his heartfelt thanks to the workers who came to their aid.
"I haven't had time to contact them, but, 'Thank you, boys. You saved four people,'" he said.
The four survivors were taken to hospital with minor injuries.
One longtime ice canoe enthusiast, Jean-François Lachance, told Radio-Canada that the weather certainly could have been a factor in the boat's capsizing.
"The conditions can change rapidly on the river," he said.
Lachance, who has been involved in the sport for 15 years, said the incident has had an impact on many people.
"The canoeing community is in mourning," said Lachance. "It's really a sad story."
With files from Lauren McCallum, Radio-Canada's Pascal Poinlane, Catou Mackinnon