They were brought together by chance: a woman in her 70s who was near the lottery kiosk in Algo Centre Mall and the friendly part-time employee who took pleasure in helping people with disabilities check their tickets.
And when rescue efforts at the collapsed Elliot Lake mall concluded on Wednesday afternoon, the two women’s bodies were the only ones pulled from the wreckage. Rescue workers said they believe there are no other casualties.
Lucie Aylwin, 37, was the first victim to be removed from the rubble early on Wednesday. Hours later, the body of Doloris Perizzolo was recovered from the debris. A woman who identified herself as a close friend of Ms. Perizzolo’s family said she was in her early 70s.
“The family’s in quite a state of shock right now,” the woman said. “We need some time here, before we can talk to people.”
Although police had a large and fluctuating list of missing people, officers stressed from the outset that some could have been nowhere near the mall when it collapsed on Saturday. On Wednesday, a senior Ontario Provincial Police officer noted that two names remained constant every time the list changed.
“I believe there is no one else in there,” Staff-Inspector Bill Neadles said.
Several friends of Ms. Aylwin’s said she worked at the lottery kiosk part-time. She was also was an employment consultant at a Collège Boréal job centre in the mall.
A woman who said she knew Ms. Aylwin's fiancé called called her “very kind and considerate.”
She said Ms. Aylwin worked at the lottery kiosk occasionally, and would often help people with mental disabilities with their tickets. “She would explain how to scratch their tickets," and she would sit down and help them with their food, she said.
Connie Cyr, 42, said he met Ms. Aylwin when both were in their 20s, and she helped him sharpen up his resume and apply for work in Elliot Lake.
“She always had time to help everybody,” he said. “She helped me so many times in the past.”
Mr. Cyr, who now lives in Sudbury, said he was excavating his backyard to plant apple trees last Saturday when he heard of the mall’s collapse on a local radio station. He immediately wondered about the fate of Ms. Aylwin and another friend who worked in the meat department at Foodland.
After his mother called to tell him Ms. Aylwin was missing and possibly trapped in the building, Mr. Cyr said he cried as he listened to news on the radio. “I was sad and thought, ‘Why her?’ She’s such a good person,” he said.
Almost immediately, Mr. Cyr said he decided to take his rented 323 Bobcat excavator to Elliot Lake and offer to help in the rescue efforts. The offer was declined, and as he watched the debris fall from the building on Tuesday night, his heart sank. “I was losing hope very quickly,” he said. “I just wanted to get in there and secure the debris.”
The delicate operation used a massive mechanical arm to push aside the debris blocking rescuers’ access to the lottery kiosk. Nervous residents watched through the night on Tuesday, desperate for word on the people trapped inside.
Mason MacDonald also met Ms. Aylwin when he was a client at the job centre, where she welcomed him with a big smile and shook his hand the first time he walked in the door. “She just had an air of pleasantness around her,” he said.
When he heard about the mall’s collapse, Mr. MacDonald said his first thought was of Ms. Aylwin.
“You think of natural disasters, there’s no face or name of the people. You’ve never met them in their entire life but when it happens to someone you know, you finally realize ... there could have been a Lucie or two in there.’”