Officials in Quebec apologized to a deceased woman's family for accidentally disposing of her body.
First responders mistook her charred remains for a silicon mannequin.
The officers realized their mistake after the woman's partner filed a missing persons report.
The law-enforcement agencies in Quebec have apologized to the family of a deceased woman for accidentally disposing of her burned remains in a dumpster.
The incident happened on July 23, when a team of firefighters in Sherbrooke, Quebec, were responding to a report of a mannequin that had caught fire. They found what they thought was a silicon dummy in a wooded area.
"When they arrived, witnesses declared that someone had lit a silicone mannequin on fire," said Danny McConnell, Sherbrooke's police chief, to Canadian news outlet CBC Canada.
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McConnell said the fire and police departments decided that the mannequin should be disposed of in a container at the Sherbrooke Police Department. But they received a call four hours later, at about 2:15 p.m., from a man who said his partner was missing.
The police officers then tracked the missing woman's cellphone signal to her car, which was parked near the site of the fire. McConnell told the press that the body was then retrieved from the container and identified.
"We are obviously sorry about this situation, and rest assured the family is being advised about every key detail of this investigation," McConnell said. "Our hearts are with the family, her partner, and the kids in this very tragic situation."
CBC Canada spoke with Robert Nicholson, an anatomical pathologist at the Granby Hospital in the Eastern Townships, who said it was not "unreasonable" for someone to mistake a burned person for a singed mannequin. He explained that this is because severely burned people lose all the water contained in their bodies.
"If somebody is a burn victim and most of the water is gone, then there is nothing but the results of the burn. It doesn't look like a normal person, and it doesn't feel like a normal person," Nicholson said.
Montreal media outlet CTV News reported that the Canadian authorities were investigating the unnatural death.
Stephane Simoneau, Sherbrooke's fire chief, told CTV that he would personally take on the responsibility to determine what occurred.
"We will shine a light on these events over the next few weeks," he said.
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