CTVNews reported the tragic death of the mother of former Canadian politician Gilles Duceppe who froze to death just outside of her Montreal seniors’ residence early one Sunday morning. She had frozen to death after mistakenly heeding a fire alarm from a nearby building.
The coroner’s office, which is investigating the incident at the Residence Lux Gouverneur, confirmed to CTV Montreal that the woman was Duceppe’s mother, Helene Rowley Hotte. Montreal police said a fire alarm was set off in a building in the seniors’ home complex at 4:15 a.m., but a notice followed indicating residents in Rowley Hotte’s building did not need to evacuate.
Rowley Hotte, who had hearing problems, likely hadn’t understood that she didn’t need to evacuate and exited the building. Once she made her way out of the building, she was unable to get back inside because the door was locked, police said. Staff at the facility told CTV Montreal the doors automatically unlock when an alarm sounds, but re-lock once it’s disarmed.
Nearly seven hours later the fire alarm, police received a call about a woman lying in the snow. They said she likely died from hypothermia. At the time, it was about -20 C outside due to a severe winter storm, according to Environment Canada.