The names of two people who were discovered deceased in a cabin in Hay River on Oct. 13 have been released.
The deceased have been identified as Brenda Laviolette-Rapp, 58, and Robert Bradley, 52, both residents of Hay River.
They had rented a cabin at Mountain Aven Campground for the Thanksgiving Day long weekend.
The names were released by the NWT Coroner’s Office, which also released the cause of death following autopsies in Edmonton.
“The Coroner’s Office has received the preliminary results, and the deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Cathy Menard, the NWT’s chief coroner.
Menard said the victims were found in bed, which possibly indicates they died in their sleep, but there is no way to know for sure.
She said the RCMP and the coroner in Hay River are investigating if the cabin’s propane heating system, stove and lamps met standards, and whether they were being used properly.
“I’m hoping that we have a report in the next few months,” Menard said, adding that a final autopsy report usually takes four to six months.
Cpl. Barry Ledoux, media relations officer with the RCMP’s G Division in Yellowknife, said the investigation will continue based on the results of the autopsies.
No foul play is suspected in the deaths.
According to friends, Laviolette-Rapp was originally from Fort Smith, while Bradley was from Newfoundland.
The couple came to Hay River from Edmonton, and had resided in the community for several years.
The Hub talked to George Gairdner and James Colosimo, who work at Rowe’s Construction where Bradley was employed as a heavy-duty mechanic for about three-and-a-half years.
“They were good people,” Gairdner said of Bradley and Laviolette-Rapp.
Gairdner said they resided just down the street from him, noting he kept looking out the window and hoping they would pull into their driveway after hearing they had died in the cabin.
“It took me a few days to realize it was them that were gone, I guess,” he said. “It’s different without them there, that’s for sure.”
Colosimo said Bradley was a very serious worker, but was more fun-loving away from the job.
“He had a big heart under that tough exterior,” Colosimo said. “He was a good guy.”
Both Gairdner and Colosimo also fondly remember Laviolette-Rapp.
They said she was a chef in the past, but was not working in Hay River at the time of her death.
Gairdner recalled occasionally going to the couple’s home and discovering that Laviolette-Rapp had prepared an amazing meal.
“She was a nice woman,” he said.
Menard said deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning are rare in the NWT.
“We haven’t had too many of them over the years that I can think of,” she said. “I can’t even think of it in an accidental situation, but I do remember a few suicides. Even that’s very rare.”
She is not aware if there was a carbon monoxide detector in the cabin in which the Hay River couple died.
Menard encouraged all residents of the NWT to check their homes for possible danger from carbon monoxide.
“This is definitely the time of year to have your furnaces checked to make sure everything is running OK,” she said, adding fire departments in every community always urge people to check their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure everything is running properly and the batteries are fresh.
— Paul Bickford