George Leblanc couldn’t save his stepson. But he tried.
For what seemed like an eternity, he performed CPR on 35-year-old Luc Harper after the young Kazabazua firefighter suffered a heart attack at his brother’s baby shower on May 21.
But even after responding within seconds, it was too late. Harper was pronounced dead later that day.
“Trust me, if I would be able to do something, I would have done it,” said Leblanc, still in shock over his stepson’s sudden death.
Leblanc is a fellow Kaz firefighter and said he sprang into action immediately: “It happened so fast. It was like he hit a brick wall. He was coming towards me and he smiled at me and then it’s like he just hits the wall and falls backwards.”
The traumatic event has left a Kazabazua family to pick up the shattered pieces. Harper leaves behind his high school sweetheart of 15 years, Jennifer, and their two young boys, aged 10 and 12. Harper and Jennifer had just gotten engaged a month
Harper was a public works employee in Kaz who had dreams of climbing the municipal ladder and making a life for his growing family up the line, according to fellow employees. He had just completed his Firefighter Level 1 training and he and his fiancé had recently purchased six acres of land to build their “dream home.”
That all came crashing down May 21, leaving more than just a community in mourning, but an entire “tight-knit” fire department.
“It truly is a family up here,” said an emotional Melanie Irwin, friend and fellow
firefighter, just days after Harper’s death. “We lost the baby of the family.”
Irwin said that many of the firefighters are still in shock after the sudden death of their brother-in-arms, especially because Harper was young and fit. Irwin said he was a true motivator in the department as the youngest firefighter in Kaz.
“Because of his age and because he was so willing to learn, he was really motivational and encouraging of us,” said Irwin. “Some of us are getting older. He brought youth to the family.”
Harper’s yellow firefighter helmet – Harper 1228 – was laid on the hood of a Kaz fi re truck with flowers on May 21, and flags at Kaz and Low were lowered to half-mast.
No matter who you speak with about Harper, they all say the same thing, that “he was always smiling.”
“Nobody’s ever seen him not smiling,” added Irwin. “There was never any challenge that was too big. He just wanted to grow and learn.”
Leblanc said he will miss fishing with Harper on the banks of the Gatineau River, where they would catch “small fish” and maybe the odd big pike. Leblanc actually recruited Harper into the fire department and the two worked together battling fires in the Hills. He talked about how much of a dedicated father Harper was to his two boys, whether he was teaching them karate or touring their land with Jennifer, where the four would daydream of the property they wanted to create together.
“He lived for his kids,” said Leblanc.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the family. Irwin said the funding goal is set at $175,000 to help “build the dream home that Luc had planned and sketched out for his young family,” according to the donor page.
Funeral details have not yet been arranged. For those who wish to donate, search “Luc Harper Jr’s family” on GoFundMe.