The late Ariane Vautrin and her 13-year-old brother Kevin McNeil. Vautrin was killed in a car accident Aug. 25 in Montreal. Photo courtesy of Josee Ducharme.
Ariane Vautrin was a caring young woman who always thought of others first, her stepfather Jim McNeil says.
Vautrin, a North Bay resident, died in a car accident in Montreal enroute to visiting her family in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. She had just turned 21.
“Ariane was beautiful in every way, both inside and out and always volunteered some of her time to be around children,” McNeil told BayToday.ca.
“Her thoughts were always about others as opposed to herself.”
McNeil, a member of Canada’s air force, had been stationed in Afghanistan.
“That’s why Ariane was driving back to Bridgewater, to see her mother and brother while I was away,” said McNeil, who returned to Canada upon being notified of the tragic news.
McNeil and his family arrived in North Bay in 1997 after he was transferred to CFB North Bay.
Last August, the McNeils decided to move to Bridgewater, where Jim had been born.
But Ariane remained in North Bay, chosing to attend Canadore College.
“We had pretty well the perfect family, and if more people had children like Ariane and her brother Kevin, there would be no problems in the world,” McNeil said.
The fatal crash that took Vautrin’s life shook everyone who knew her, expained Jason Pichette, Vautrin’s manager at Telespectrum Inc., where she had worked as a customer service representative.
“She always had people around her when she wasn’t working. She was very charismatic and always made people laugh and feel good,” Pichette said.
“In terms of work she was a top performer and it will be a big loss to not have her with us anymore.”
It’s like losing a sister
Josee Ducharme was Vautrin’s roommate, having met each other during college, where they both studied business.
“She was my best, best friend,” Ducharme said.
“It’s not fair. It’s like losing a sister.”
Vautrin and Ducharme did almost everything together. They both loved the color pink, so much in fact that they both had matching pink cars. The two also bought their puppies together. Vautrin named her puppy Kiwi—the dog also died in the crash—and Ducharme named her pooch Mango.
“The hardest part will be never seeing her again; our home is not our home anymore,” Ducharme said.
“If I could talk to her right now I wouldn’t let her go. I would tell her that I love her so much.”
Missed by all
Terrance Butterworth worked with Vautrin at Telespectrum.
“We spent a lot of our time together and we went on countless adventures. She was everything anyone could ask for and she will be missed by all,” Butterworth said.
“She was brilliant. There are no words to describe how awesome she was. She was everything to everybody, and more fun than laughing.”
Elva Teichreb was Vautrin's supervisor at Telespectrum and also a personal friend.
She says she'll never forget Ariane's sense of fun and her zest for life.
"Nothing was ever dull when you were around Ariane which is probably why she had so many friends. It didn't matter whether we went for coffee, to catch a movie or out for a drink on a Saturday night, it was always memorable if you were with Ariane," Teichreb said.
Vautrin was a "devoted and protective friend" with a "great" sense of humour, Teichreb said.
"And although it sometimes got her into trouble, she was never afraid to be completely honest with everyone. She was a great friend and will be sadly missed."
Ashley Hoadley was another of Vautrin's co-workers at Telespectrum.
She said Vautrin was the type of girl who had "many friends" and no enemies.
Vautrin, Hoadley said, had a smile no one could forget because "it was that 100-watt smile" that lit up the room.
"I will never forget the day she and Josée walked in with those adorable puppies," Hoadley said.
"I remember walking up to her and petting Kiwi. That 100-watt smile came back and I knew that Kiwi was her baby."
Vautrin’s funeral will be held next week in Nova Scotia. She will be cremated. A memorial service is also being planned at CFB North Bay.
With files from Phil Novak