Pontiac 'deeply saddened' after road washout leads to woman's death

A woman is dead after a culvert gave way Friday in Pontiac, Que.

Pontiac Mayor Joanne Labadie confirmed the death to CBC Radio's In Town and Out on Saturday morning.

Louise Séguin Lortie, 72, was driving alone on rue de Clarendon at chemin Bronson Bryant when the incident occurred, Labadie said.

Labadie said that Lortie was an important member of the western Quebec community.

"The municipality is really saddened. We're all in shock," she said.

"[She] was well-known in the community and well-loved, and we were all deeply saddened by the incident."

Jérémie Bergeron/CBC
Jérémie Bergeron/CBC

'She couldn't stop'

Pontiac was one of three western Quebec communities that declared states of emergency Friday due to heavy rainfall and rising waters on the Ottawa River.

There were initial reports that another person was injured in the crash, but police said Saturday afternoon that they had no reports of anyone else being hurt.

Yves Charette, director of public safety with the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais, said they're considering Lortie's death an accident.

"The road was already washed away," Charette said. "And she couldn't stop, and the car fell in the stream."


Mourners placed flowers at the scene of the crash Saturday, next to yellow police tape that was keeping people from getting any closer.

"We've known each other for years. She was part of our community," said Pamela McLaughlin. "Everybody's suffering."

Federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale tweeted his condolences Saturday morning.

The Ottawa River Regulation Secretariat said Saturday that the combination of heavy rain and the melting snowpack meant that communities downstream from the nation's capital were currently at the highest risk of flooding.

Water levels would likely peak east of Ottawa on Monday, with upstream communities likely experiencing the worst conditions later in the week.

Rainfall warnings for the region, however, were lifted Saturday afternoon.