The fear of a steep healthcare bill led to a Canadian family from Quebec attempting to cross the US-Canadian border with the lifeless body of their 87-year-old relative, Fernand Drapeau.
On March 31st at 2:30 pm, border officials inspected the car of a Quebecois man in his 60’s, who was accompanied by his elderly parents for a brief trip to Florida.
The officials quickly realized that the older man buckled into the back seat was not alive, so they called emergency services. When paramedics arrived at the scene, they declared Fernand Drapeau dead, and analysis revealed he had been dead for at least 48 hours.
According to a report shared with CTV News, Drapeau had suffered from a heart attack while the trio was traveling. The family claims they weren’t prepared to accept the high cost of American healthcare or the cost of transporting their father/husband’s body back home through official channels.
The Surete du Quebec continues to investigate the unusual case, however, no criminal charges have been laid against anyone involved.
As for the border officials, they say they’ve never encountered anything like this situation before.
The drive from Florida to the border in Phillipsburg, Quebec is over 1,500 miles and takes over 23 hours of non-stop driving to complete. One can’t help but wonder how the late Drapeau’s son and elderly wife spent a night on the road with his body in their vehicle.
The government of Canada lists the following as the proper steps to take if a loved one dies while traveling:
- Choose someone to make decisions for the family, either in Canada or where the death took place. If possible, this person should have the required documentation, such as the deceased’s will and any powers of attorney.
- Notify the deceased person’s travel insurance provider and make sure that you follow their instructions to avoid unnecessary delays or complications.
- Find a funeral home in the region where the death took place that is experienced in international funeral arrangements. The funeral home will guide you through the next steps and help you with arrangements in both countries if you decide to have the funeral in Canada.
- Cancel the deceased’s benefits including Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan, Social Insurance Number, Employment Insurance and tax-related payments, and personal identification. The passport of a deceased person should be returned to Canada’s Passport Program.
- Understand that each country has different policies and procedures and local laws apply when a foreigner dies there. Timelines may often be longer than in Canada and delays can occur at any time.
Additionally, surviving family members are responsible for obtaining several copies of the death certificate along with other documentation, depending on the circumstances. Moreover, “It can be very expensive to repatriate remains back to Canada and, depending on the circumstances of the death it could take a long time.”
You can find the complete details of returning a deceased family member to the United States from the U.S. Department of State- Bureau of Consular Affairs, though we hope you never need to use this information.