Gatineau fire victim died trying to save sister
Family and friends say it appears 12-year-old Jacob Rondeau died a hero Saturday night -- trying to save the life of his sister.
A kitchen fire claimed the lives of the Gatineau twins, Jacob and his sister Gabrielle Cormier. They had been left alone briefly, at bedtime, when the flames broke out in their apartment at 75 Marengere St.
Neighbour and family friend Andre Valiquette said the family has been told both children were found on the floor upstairs -- Jacob lying on top of the iPad he took to bed with him.
When their older brother Daniel and his girlfriend Andrea Miller left, about 15 minutes before the fire is believed to have started, Jacob was in bed but still awake. His sister takes sleeping medication because she has a sleep disorder, Valiquette said.
He believes she would have been sound asleep when the fire started -- and it appears her brother tried to haul her out of bed.
"He must have passed away trying to save his sister," Valiquette said, breaking down into tears. "It looks like he threw her on the floor to try and wake her up ... but there was too much smoke and he wasn't able."
Gabrielle was in bed when Daniel and Andrea left, according to the young couple.
The family dog, a Golden Labrador Retriever named Canelle, also died in the fire. The one-year-old animal had been a Christmas present from Valiquette and his wife Anick Potvin.
Valiquette said funeral preparations are taking some time because the children's mother, Ericka Cormier, is suffering.
"She's not capable right now," he said. "She's too heartbroken."
Valiquette expects arrangements will be made by Wednesday. Meanwhile, he plans on setting up a trust fund via his bank to raise money for funeral expenses. He also wants to start a collection of used furniture and new household supplies for Daniel, whose apartment was destroyed in the blaze.
The family plans to keep friends and supporters updated through the Facebook group called "<3 Jacob & Gabrielle <3" which has nearly 400 followers.
Gatineau police said the cause of the fire is "accidental and results from a cooking fire" and will not lay criminal charges.