CFN – In July 2013, a man named Marco Lavoie set out on an ambitious two-month canoe trip north of Matagami in the deep forests of the Abitibi region of Quebec. But by the end of the first month, a bear had attacked his campsite. Later, Lavoie was wounded by a deer. By the end of the second month, he was unable to carry his canoe.
After three months, he had almost nothing left, not even his dog, which he’d killed in order to eat. By the end of the third month, Lavoie was at the end of his rope. He’d lost 90 pounds and had perhaps 24 hours to live.
Then, just like in the movies, a helicopter appeared. Following a three-day search, a siren blared from the sky. The exhausted man dragged himself to the shore. He thought he was dreaming, especially when the helicopter disappeared again. It could only land a kilometre away.
It’s from that distance that two Sûreté du Québec officers entered the forest, scouring the rocky, jagged and icy terrain where, after about 20 minutes, they found Lavoie, who’d spent his remaining energy to reach the shore so he could once again be seen by the helicopter.
To bring him back, one officer carried the man on his back while another held him in place because the man was too weak to hold on to the first officer’s neck. We can only imagine the drama of those three individuals, huddled together, struggling through the bush for a full hour.
The desperate canoeist’s life was saved thanks to the tireless efforts of two outstanding SQ officers — Valérie Caron and Alexandre Cotes.
Photo: Courtesy of Stephane Brunet – from left to right: Alexandre Cotes, Marco Lavote, and Valérie Caron
FREDERIC SERRE is a former newspaper reporter with 25 years of journalism and media relations experience.
Serre has been the director of FSI Media, a Montreal-based freelance communications company, since 1998. Serre is the managing editor of Police Advocates Journal, a national online police magazine.
In his spare time – because hockey has been his passion since he learned to walk – Serre enjoys receiving pucks to the head, as a goalie for several ice hockey leagues, including the Just For Laughs league and an international tournament in Finland and Sweden.