Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Death Stalks the Unwary

"Right now, I'm just really sad. I can't really think."
"They are sleeping, so they can't get in a fight or anything."
Andrea Miller, 17, Gatineau, Quebec

People have left letters, flowers, teddy bears and other messages of condolence at the front door step this weekend. The burned-out town home at 75 Marengere Road (apt. A) in Gatineau, where a young boy and his sister died over the weekend.
People have left letters, flowers, teddy bears and other messages of condolence at the front door step.   Julie Oliver / Ottawa Citizen
True, they were sleeping. As twelve-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, it is surely likely that though they loved one another they must often have quarrelled as siblings do. Their older brother, Daniel Rondeau, had been tasked with minding the twins. Something he must have been accustomed to doing, when their mother left on weekends to visit with her boyfriend, at his house out of town.

For the past year, Andrea Miller and Daniel Rondeau had been going out together. And Andrea was accustomed to being with her boyfriend on those weekends, helping to look to the welfare and security of the younger two, Gabrielle and Jacob Rondeau in their mother's absence. There's quite a gap, even with only five years' difference, between pre-teens and teens.

Hormonally, emotionally, responsibly, independently. The twelve-year-olds are emerging into their teen years, while the 17-year-olds are on the cusp of emerging young adulthood. The older sibling more aware, particularly in light of the responsibilities given him, than his young siblings. The younger ones compliant, on occasion not-so-much, to the authority of their older brother.

Could it be called a lapse in judgement, a brief hiatus, a hesitant gamble with opportunity and fate that Andrea and Daniel decided to sneak out of the house for a brief period while the younger children were in bed, ostensibly fast asleep? What, after all, could conceivably happen to imperil them, safe in their beds while the older two made off to a nearby pizza shop?

And what could be more normal than two young people companioning one another to a fast-food shop to pick up a pizza? Who doesn't like pizza? So off they went, while the children were fast asleep; the older two secure in the knowledge they'd be back as soon as it took to complete their brief mission. It's possible that Gabrielle, while in the pizza shop, experienced a foreboding, a pang of fear when an ambulance rushed past.

But that was the deciding factor, evidently, in whether to eat the pizza there, or take it back with them. They took it back with them. They returned to the house around 11 p.m., gone no more than 20 minutes. They came back to the house just in time to see firefighters withdraw Jacob and Gabrielle from an inferno and rush them off to hospital. That was on Saturday night. On Monday they died.

Andrea said afterward that she had made french fries that afternoon. The pot of oil still sat on the stove on Saturday night. "It was just oil but nothing was on or anything", she explained. Acting Chief Inspector Eric Lajeunesse with the Gatineau fire department's prevention section explained that "Even if you cooked beforehand in the same day, do not leave anything on the stove."

Alas ... too late. Daniel Rondeau and his mother Erika Cormier have been devastated by an incomprehensible loss. How each and both in turn will manage to meet their own personal challenges for their futures is an unknown. An experience no one would want to be challenged with.

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