Coroner probes exposure death of Gilles Duceppe's mother outside seniors' home - InfoNews

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Coroner probes exposure death of Gilles Duceppe's mother outside seniors' home

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe announces his resignation, Thursday, October 22, 2015 in Montreal. A 93-year-old woman whose body was found in the snow outside a Montreal seniors residence Sunday was the mother of Duceppe.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
January 21, 2019 - 11:36 AM

MONTREAL - A 93-year-old woman whose body was found in the snow outside a luxury Montreal seniors' residence Sunday was the mother of former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe.

Quebec's coroner's office said Monday it is investigating the death of a woman who perished after leaving her building when a fire alarm sounded early in the morning. Police say she ended up locked out in the middle of a frigid snowstorm.

The coroner's office has confirmed the victim was Duceppe's mother, Helene Rowley Hotte.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault extended condolences to Duceppe and his family Monday.

"Isabelle and I are shattered by the death of Mrs. Rowley, Gilles Duceppe's mother," Legault wrote on Twitter from France, where he is on an official visit. "I offer all my sympathy to Gilles, his brothers and sisters, and to the whole family in this moment of great sadness."

Meanwhile, Marguerite Blais, the minister responsible for seniors, said she has asked local health officials for a full briefing.

"My sincerest condolences to the family of Mr. Gilles Duceppe on the death of his mother during this tragic event," Blais wrote. "We will shed light on this very sad story."

A longtime friend of Duceppe, who asked not to be identified, said Rowley Hotte was in excellent physical and mental health and had dined with family members the previous evening. Family checked in with her every morning, and they became worried when there was no answer to their calls Sunday. They arrived to find her unit empty, the friend said.

Montreal police said the victim had hearing problems and likely didn't understand the announcement that her building — one of three in the complex — wasn't part of the evacuation order. The door locked behind her as she went into a backyard.

Const. Caroline Chevrefils said police received a call shortly before noon Sunday about a woman found dead in the snow, likely from hypothermia. They transferred the investigation to the coroner's office after determining there was no criminal element to the death.

Duceppe declined to comment when reached by The Canadian Press.

Joannie Lambert-Roy, a spokeswoman for Quebec's coroner's office, coroner Gehane Kamel has been assigned to investigate the circumstances surrounding Rowley Hotte's death. According to statistics compiled by the coroner's office, there was 121 accidental deaths in Quebec from exposure to excessive cold between 2000 and 2016 — 31 of which involved victims aged 75 or older.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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