A father and a child were found dead on Wednesday after their car went off the road and plunged into a river in Quebec’s Lanaudiere region.
Quebec provincial police confirmed Thursday that the bodies of Jonas Dube, 29, and Weyko Jacob, 7, were discovered in the submerged car in St-Michel-des-Saints, Que., about 170 kilometres north of Montreal.
The Atikamekw band council of Manawan said in a news release the father and son were members of the community who had been missing since Tuesday night.
“Like all members of the community, I was very shocked when I heard about the terrible accident,” Manawan Chief Paul-Emile Ottawa said in the release. “The two victims were esteemed people in our community. Their departure will certainly leave a great void in the hearts of many of us.”
Ottawa described Jacob as a very cheerful young boy, while he said Dube was “an excellent father.”
A citizen called police at about 1 p.m. on Wednesday about a car that had skidded off the road and gone into the water. Officers on the scene found the car upside down and underwater and called in fire and rescue services, who discovered the bodies inside the car.
Police say a collision specialist is investigating the cause and time of the accident and a mechanical inspection of the car has been ordered.
“We know it took place some time between Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon,” said Jean Raphael Drolet, a spokesman for the provincial police.
Ottawa said in a recent interview that Dube and his son were heading toward Manawan to see other family members when the accident occurred.
“The family lives in Joliette, Que.,” Ottawa said. “Dube’s wife is a nurse at the Manawan health centre and she had been working on the vaccination campaign for the last few days. The father and son were coming back to see her.”
The band said the accident happened on a stretch of highway that is known to be dangerous. Ottawa said the band council continues its efforts with Quebec’s Transport Department to make the road safer – a discussion the community has been having with the provincial government for the past two years.
“The safety on the Manawan road has been concerning the community for a long time,” Ottawa said. “When it comes to security, it is our duty to do everything possible to prevent another tragedy from occurring.”
Ottawa said he intends to ask the Quebec government to install fences between the road and the nearby rivers, something he argues could have saved Dube and his son’s lives.
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