First responders trained on how to avoid mistaking body for mannequin: Quebec coroner

SHERBROOKE, Que. — A coroner's report into the death of a Quebec woman whose body was mistaken for a mannequin says police and firefighters have received training to help them avoid making similar errors.

Laurette Therrien, 64, died in July 2021 after setting herself on fire in a field near a factory in Sherbrooke, Que., 150 kilometres east of Montreal.

Witnesses had thought a silicone mannequin had been set ablaze.

Police put the body into a dumpster after speaking to witnesses and consulting with firefighters, and investigators only discovered several hours later that police had thrown out human remains.

Coroner Richard Drapeau says that since Therrien's death, firefighters and police in the city have undergone training with a forensic pathologist and been given new rules for documenting deaths.

As well, Drapeau says first responders are now required to work more closely with paramedics.

He says first responders might have been confused because Therrien's body was transformed by fire and covered in powder from a fire extinguisher.

Drapeau ruled that the cause of death was suicide by asphyxiation from smoke inhalation.

Therrien had left a note and had brought the gasoline canister from home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the death occurred in 2020.