Missing Quebec entrepreneur and his son found dead north of Mont Tremblant
Family honours Stéphane Roy as 'someone who had a big heart'
After more than two weeks of searching, provincial police say they have found what they believe are the bodies of Stéphane Roy and his 14-year-old son Justin and the helicopter Roy was last seen piloting on July 10.
In a tweet just before 4 p.m., the Sûreté du Québec said a ground team sent to the spot where an SQ helicopter searching for the pair located Roy's downed aircraft earlier today also found two lifeless bodies.
The bodies have not yet been formally identified.
Roy is the founder and owner of Serres Sagami, a company based in Sainte-Sophie, Que., which sells greenhouse-grown tomatoes under the Savoura label and other produce.
Malheureusement, l’équipe déployée sur le terrain a retrouvé deux personnes décédées. Tout porte à croire qu’il s’agirait des deux occupants de l’appareil, M. Stéphane Roy et son fils. L’enquête sur les circonstances de l’événement est en cours. Une identification formelle suivra—@sureteduquebec
The tweet from the SQ came an hour after police announced they had found a missing helicopter near Lac Valtrie, about 90 kilometres north of Mont-Tremblant, Que.
Lac Valtrie is about 170 kilometres south of Lac-De La Bidière, where Roy had been fishing with his son.
The pair had set off for home in Sainte-Sophie, 60 kilometres north of Montreal, on July 11 aboard Roy's Robinson R44 helicopter, but never arrived.
Family always had hope
Over the 15 days Stéphane Roy and his son were missing, their family maintained hope that they were still alive.
"To us, it was unrealistic to even think that the worst had happened," Roy's brother, Daniel Roy, said in an interview Thursday evening.
Daniel Roy, said his family was saddened by the news, but were grateful that the bodies had been found — they were afraid they might never be.
Daniel Roy thanked everyone involved with the search and spoke of his brother fondly.
"He was someone who had a big heart," he said.
Roy's brother received a phone call from the SQ informing him that his brother's body had been found, he told reporters Thursday evening.
When he received that call, he held on hope that his nephew was still alive. Roy says police told him their bodies had not been found next to each other.
Several moments later though, Daniel Roy was informed that his nephew was found nearby.
"We've spoken a lot about the president of Savoura, of my brother but we especially can't forget Justin, my nephew. The little cousin of my children," Daniel Roy said.
Daniel Roy hopes that something can be done to improve the safety and tracking measures of private aircraft, and that pilots will become more aware of their potential dangers.
Stéphane Roy was an experienced pilot who had been in emergency situations before, his brother said, describing an incident in which Roy's aircraft engine failed, but he had landed it safely.
Armed Forces had stopped searching
The Canadian Armed Forces joined in the search for the pair, deploying its Griffon helicopters and Hercules C-130 planes, but they relinquished the case to the provincial police Saturday, after more than a week of fruitless searching.
Air force search-and-rescue teams had been flying slowly and at low altitudes looking for the missing father and son, but a thick forest canopy and highly dangerous terrain hampered their efforts.
The initial search area was about 20,000 square kilometres, but rescuers used cellular data to narrow the search zone to about 2,200 square kilometres.
The SQ, too, briefly suspended its own search efforts earlier this week, wanting to review the evidence in the case before they continued.
When the search resumed, it focused on a thickly forested area north of Mont-Tremblant provincial park, by triangulating the information obtained from cell phone towers.
The SQ had teams on both the ground and in the air Thursday, as well as others searching in lakes.
Canadian Prime Minister offers condolences
Both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault reacted to Roy's death, on Twitter Thursday.
"My heart goes out to the family and loved ones of Stéphane Roy and his son Justin. Quebecers are keeping you in our thoughts tonight," Trudeau said in a tweet.
André Michaud, a friend of Roy's and a spokesperson for his company, Serres Sagami, said Thursday afternoon's discovery that the pair did not survive is difficult for Roy's 400 employees.
Merci à la <a href="https://twitter.com/sureteduquebec?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sureteduquebec</a>, à l’<a href="https://twitter.com/Armeecanadienne?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Armeecanadienne</a>, aux nombreux bénévoles ainsi qu’à la ministre de la Sécurité publique, <a href="https://twitter.com/GGuilbaultCAQ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GGuilbaultCAQ</a>, pour tout le travail effectué dans le cadre de ces recherches.—@francoislegault
"All of Quebec is with you in this difficult moment," Legault said.
Legault also thanked everyone who was involved with the search.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada will be taking over the investigation of the crash.
With files from Radio-Canada