(Mont-Tremblant) Gabriel Dubeau was 13 years old when he saw, in a fraction of a second, his father losing the use of his four limbs. Seventeen years later, the triathlete performs for two…

It was May 8, 2006. Marcel Dubeau had picked up Gabriel at school to take him to his hockey training on the South Shore of Montreal. Father and son had just entered the Jacques-Cartier Bridge when an oncoming car missed its turn and crashed into them.

“He picked us up from the driver’s side. On my father’s side,” Gabriel Dubeau told La Presse on Saturday in Mont-Tremblant, on the eve of what was to be his second Ironman before Sunday’s cancellation.

“Dad, are you okay? “, he let go.

For the first time in his life, the answer was negative.

” Non, it is not OK. There is nothing moving, call your mother,” Mr. Dubeau replied.

At the hospital, doctors advised the family that they did not fear for his life, but did not know what would happen to his mobility.

“Finally, he lost everything,” Gabriel blurts out.

From the neck to the feet, Marcel Dubeau has lost all his sensations. His son escaped unscathed, apart from some neck pain.

Overnight, Gabriel Dubeau saw the man who instilled in him the love of sport losing the use of his body. “He kept all his head; that’s where we got really lucky,” he suggests.

After spending several months at the Sacré-Coeur Hospital in Montreal, then at the Montreal Rehabilitation Institute and the Lucie-Bruneau Physical Impairment Rehabilitation Center, Mr. Dubeau returned home. He started physiotherapy three or four times a week. Through hard work and effort, he managed to get up and put one foot in front of the other again, with the help of a therapist. Amazing progress.

Gabriel pulls out his cell phone to show us videos on YouTube. We see his father standing there, concentrating on taking a few steps. “He says he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but his leg is moving. »

Gabriel’s pride in these images is obvious. Over the past 17 years, his father has become “like a hero” to him, says the 30-year-old.

“The perseverance of this man is incomparable. […] He could have given up. After the accident, he considered pulling the plug; he wondered why he continued, he was going to depend on everyone. But if there’s one thing I’m truly grateful to my dad for, it’s his perseverance. »

Gabriel, who has spent a large part of his life in hockey, started triathlon in 2019. Every time he takes part in an event, his father is a source of motivation.

“It’s the juice [I need] to push a little further, not to give up. »

As his father, a true sportsman at heart, is no longer able to practice any sport, Gabriel makes sure to tell him about his experiences after each sporting event.

“He asks questions, it feeds him. It is as if he lives it through us. I know that if he was on his feet, he would have signed up with me for the Ironman. »