Aggression in Haute-Mauricie: a “super woman” to watch over snowmobilers

Aggression in Haute-Mauricie: a «super woman» watching over snowmobilers

UPGRADE DAY

SHAWINIGAN | In Haute-Mauricie, everyone knows Sylvie Lachapelle. City councilor, tireless hotelier and president of the Quad Club, Parent's “super woman” survived an extremely violent murder attempt in 2020. Nearly three years after her attack, she campaigns against violence against women. .

To say that Sylvie Lachapelle is a woman of action would be an understatement. By her own admission, the 56-year-old has always “drove 300 miles an hour.” Except by snowmobile, of course. 

On January 3, 2020, she hit a wall. In fact, it was rather the wall that hit her. With fists, with knees, with “ski-doo boots” in the face. 21 times in just three minutes. 

“It's not complicated, he scrapped my life,” she summarizes in an interview with our Bureau of Investigation. 

“He” is Patrice St-Amand. The 44-year-old man is accused of attempted murder of the co-owner of the Hôtel Central de Parent. His trial began last week in La Tuque. 

Patrice St-Amand is charged with attempted murder.

Powerful video

The assault of incredible violence was captured by a surveillance camera of the establishment, and the images were made public on Wednesday.

A surveillance camera captured the scene where he allegedly beat the hostess in the face.

Indignation was on everyone's lips in Haute-Mauricie. At the Auberge de la Petite Chapelle, at the Hôtel Marineau, at the “Déli” – the restaurant on Commercial Street where everyone eats –, in the corridors of the courthouse: everyone was talking about what had happened to Sylvie. 

Elsewhere in the province as well, because Ms. Lachapelle is a figurehead in the ATV and snowmobile community.

“How can a human being do that to another? ? It's evil incarnate! That woman is an angel. She didn't deserve to go through this. When I learned of it, it sawed my legs”, drops comedian Philippe Laprise, who quickly heard from him via the FaceTime application.

Comedian Philippe Laprise knows Ms. Lachapelle well, whom he describes as “an angel”.

The man who hosted the TV show Histoires de Sentiers is full of praise for Ms. Lachapelle.

“She's a super open, super sweet, zero violent woman. I've never seen her angry. I'm sure that just before [the alleged murder attempt], she spoke to him softly, ”he describes in a telephone interview, a description similar to those that our Investigation Office heard during our visit to Haute-Mauricie.

Nature lover

A native of Laval, Sylvie Lachapelle settled in Parent – ​​a small village of 400 souls 200 kilometers north of La Tuque – at the age of 18. She went to join her husband, who was already working in the region.

“I was supposed to be there for just a year,” recalls the one who has lived there for almost four decades.

Her romance did not last, but Sylvie fell in love with her new corner of the country. A fan of fishing, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, she chose to settle there for good when she met her husband of the past 36 years, Jean Dupont. 

Mythical place

At the time, the latter was manager of the Central Hotel. The establishment, which includes around thirty rooms, a restaurant and a bar, has been established in this forest village since 1910. 

Many snowmobilers meet at the Hôtel Central in Parent every winter.

When the owner decided to sell it in 1999, Sylvie Lachapelle and Jean Dupont jumped at the chance.

Having always worked in the field of service customer service, Ms. Lachapelle has been heavily involved in her community. In particular, she held the position of municipal councilor for eight years.

And, in addition to working “like a moron at the hotel”, 15 hours a day, seven days a week, she founded a corps of cheerleaders as well as the Club quad de Parent.

We see here Sylvie Lachapelle a few years ago with a group of French tourists.

“The only club in the Federation [whose Board of Directors includes] only women,” she says proudly. 

With the Quad Club, she organized méchouis and “golden suppers”, the profits of which went to the people of Parent. “When people needed medical care outside the village, we helped them with accommodation, for example. We also helped to keep Parent's church,” illustrates Ms. Lachapelle.

Hotel owner and psychologist

“Sylvie is a people-centered person , always ready to help. She often played psychologist. If someone was a little too drunk, he would not leave Central, she would put him to bed in a room, ”says Philippe Laprise.

This is what she would have offered to Patrice St-Amand, the evening of the attack. Sylvie Lachapelle got out of bed a little before 1:30 a.m. to help her waitress Nathalie Hébert, who was having “trouble” with this unruly customer.

< p>“There have never been any problems at the Hotel. People respected me. It rarely happened that there were battles,” she notes.

That night, Jean Dupont had offered his wife to take care of the situation, but she declined his offer. “My spouse was older and smaller. I chatted with the guys, I had a drink with them. I always managed to defuse things”, explains the hotel manager.

Bouncer on his own time

From the height of her 5ft7, Sylvie Lachapelle did not hesitate to “play the bouncer”, if necessary. “I once took a 6ft guy out on the sidewalk by pushing him out. It's been 15 years and the world is still talking about it. In town, people are not used to this, the police are close. The rest of us have to sort things out,” she sums up. 

Comedian Philippe Laprise knows Ms. Lachapelle well, whom he describes as “an angel” .

Sylvie Lachapelle has always sown good things around her, and she is now reaping the rewards. Unable to drive for more than an hour due to his severe head trauma, the support of his family is essential to him.

Although she is still unable to return to work, it is out of the question for the hotelier to give up. “I try all sorts of things to get the headache out, all at my expense. I see specialists in Trois-Rivières, in Quebec, in Montreal. I even went to see a chiropractor in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli”, she lists. 

As the Crown prosecutor, Me Éric Thériault, put it, Sylvie Lachapelle is certainly made of wrought iron. It bends, but it doesn't break.

She tried to get up twice as she was beaten. Two days after being operated on by surgeon Alain Guimont, she was discharged from the hospital. 

Unacceptable violence

Three weeks later, she participated in a vigil against feminicides in Quebec, following the death of Marylène Lévesque, at the hands of a repeat killer. 

“I thought it was important to show that it is unacceptable. Women must be careful and, above all, not tolerate violence. And we have to pass the message on to the men: if they have a problem, let them seek treatment,” argues Ms. Lachapelle. 

In the spring of 2020, the hotel manager went to the La Tuque hospital to give an angel statuette to the first nurse who had welcomed her. “I wanted to say thank you and that she sees that my face was less bad,” she laughs. 

Collateral damage

< p>What Sylvie Lachapelle struggles to deal with is the collateral damage of her aggression. “In small villages, everyone is trusted. When I was attacked, it affected the whole population,” she explains.

And, as a misfortune never comes alone, Mrs. Lachapelle's spouse took his last breath on the 10 last August.

“After my attack, he was stuck alone with the hotel and he was under a lot of stress. He has had two strokes and has three cancers. It was too much for him”, laments the one who took care of her Jean until the end.

Despite all these misfortunes, Sylvie Lachapelle has no intention of leaving Parent. And when we ask her what she misses the most, she answers without hesitation: “working”. 

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