Funeral director goes AWOL; 9 families left in lurch

Patrick Fortin. (PIERRE-PAUL POULIN/QMI Agency)

Patrick Fortin. (PIERRE-PAUL POULIN/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:12 AM ET

MONTREAL - Nine families had an extra reason to grieve the death of their loved ones when a funeral director vanished with bodies still in the morgue.

Friends and family of Francoise Martin, who died on March 31, told QMI Agency that undertaker Patrick Fortin didn't contact them for 22 days.

They had already paid the undertaker $1,500 to prepare Martin's body for cremation.

"We can't imagine a person could be mean enough to do that," said family friend Helene Coulombe.

Quebec's health ministry revoked Fortin's license last month after a consumer protection organization filed a complaint.

Officials visited his funeral home east of Montreal seven days later and found nine bodies in the building.

The provincial association of funeral directors is blasting the week-long delay in returning the bodies to families.

"We are all moved at seeing abused calves," said spokeswoman Nathalie Samson, referring to a recent animal cruelty case in Quebec.

"Here we have people who died and for seven days, nobody cares. This is unacceptable."

Officials have so far contacted 60 other clients who had made pre-funeral arrangements with the undertaker.

Patrick Fortin has had previous brushes with watchdogs.

He has been fined a total of $280,000 since 2006 for failing to put clients' money into a trust account.

Fortin's wife, also a licensed funeral director, has also been convicted of the same offenses.

 


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