Suicide claims life of Fairmont arson suspect

On Monday (January 28), the BC Coroners Office confirmed the identity of the deceased as Cheyenne Michelle Mason-Lalonde.

The 20-year-old female from Fairmont Hot Springs who was charged with arson alongside a 25-year-old Invermere male as of January 17 was found dead behind a building in the 5000 block of Riverview Road that backs onto the Riverside golf course in Fairmont Hot Springs on Thursday, January 24.

On Monday (January 28), the BC Coroners Office confirmed the identity of the deceased as Cheyenne Michelle Mason-Lalonde, aged 20, was a resident of Fairmont Hot Springs and an employee of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

Mason-Lalonde was found by a friend late in the evening of January 24. She was deceased at the scene, her death the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Columbia Valley RCMP had been notified of a female making threats to harm herself on the Fairmont premises around 10:30 p.m. on Thursday. Upon arrival, police were notified that a female body alongside a rifle had been discovered by a roommate.

It was unclear at  press deadline whether drugs and/or alcohol were a factor.

Friends and co-workers have since been given access to grief support.

“We’ve been doing counselling since Friday afternoon just after the incident,” Fairmont Hot Springs Resort chief operating officer Dean Prentic told The Echo on Monday (January 28). “We had sessions on Friday, offered services on Saturday, Sunday, there’s another one [Monday] and [Tuesday]. We’ve been identifying individuals in particular, and the circle gets bigger as you talk to people and understand who’s affected, and whose been affected in different ways. Everybody reacts differently to this.”

Prentic says the resort will continue to monitor each employee and ensure that appropriate counselling is being provided for their needs.

A celebration of life will take place on at 4 p.m. on Thursday (January 31) in Cranbrook.

“It’s a tragic event to lose a life, and there’s a lot of staff who were close,” Prentic said. “Certainly in any type of work environment, you’re closest to the people you work with. You work with them every day; to lose a friend and a colleague is challenging — there’s no question. Everyone’s coping and coping in their own way. We’re just trying to help them through that period of time as best we can.”

The BC Coroners Service and RCMP continue to investigate this death. The young woman’s death should not affect the outcome of the arson charges laid against the 25 year-old male, Staff Sargeant Marko Shehovak told The Echo.