Although grieving his death late last night, friends and family of Mike Groulx are finding some solace knowing that he will be saving the lives of others through organ donation.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the 32-year-old Angus man fell approximately 15 feet off the garage of a house he and his crew were framing on a worksite on Goldie Crescent in The Blue Mountains, near Collingwood.
Groulx suffered a fractured skull.
Exactly one week later and surrounded by family and friends at Victoria Hospital in London, Ont., Groulx died at 11:28 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1.
“His fight is over,” sister-in-law Carlee Lewis told BarrieToday in an email this morning, adding Groulx was an organ donor and he was immediately taken to the operating room for doctor’s to retrieve his organs. “He will hopefully save lives.”
Groulx, a married father of a 22-month-old son, was the owner of Groulx Construction.
In a telephone interview earlier this week, Lewis told BarrieToday that he was taken by ambulance to London, because the local hospital simply didn’t have the necessary equipment.
“Because of the ice storm, they couldn’t fly him to a hospital (elsewhere) and there were no ICU beds in Toronto or the surrounding areas, so they brought him to London," she added.
After arriving at Victoria Hospital, Groulx underwent brain surgery, however his family was informed that it was unlikely he would survive the operation.
“By the time we got to the (hospital) through the snowstorm — it took us about eight hours to drive — he did make it off the table," said Lewis, adding he had been non-responsive, but still had some brain activity up until that point.
Groulx underwent an MRI on Sunday night and on Monday morning the doctor and social worker asked the family to come to the office, Lewis said.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be good news. They let us know that it was time for us to say goodbye," she added.
Groulx, along with his wife Charlotte and son Damon, have lived in Angus for the last year. Lewis said her sister grew up in Alliston, while Mike was raised in Blind River in northern Ontario.
The couple met about eight years ago in Alberta when Charlotte was living with her dad and going to school and Mike was working on the oil rigs, Lewis said. They were married July 17, 2022, after postponing their wedding plans due to COVID-19 restrictions. Their son Damon was born in April 2021.
Charlotte is “completely devastated” by the death of her husband, Lewis said.
“Charlotte has had a tough life and Mike was a level of normal and a level of happiness that she had never really had in her life," she said. "Now she feels as though she’s back to Square 1. I am sure she’s going through a lot of grieving and that some of the thought process is not necessarily rational, but she just feels like the world is completely against her and that she doesn’t deserve happiness.”
Lewis described her brother-in-law as a “salt-of-the-earth kind of guy” who would help anyone in need.
"He is the sweetest human being," she said.
Groulx was also the best dad to the couple’s young son, Lewis added.
“He’s the kind of dad that women wish they would have for their children," she said. "He’s the best husband and he’s always putting them first. I couldn't say enough good things about him.”
The couple was supposed to be in Montreal last weekend to celebrate Mike’s 32nd birthday at a Montreal Canadiens game — a Christmas gift from Charlotte to her husband. Instead, friends and family gathered around Mike’s hospital bed to watch the game.
“He was a fanatic fan of the Habs. He’d never seen them before. Instead, we as a group watched the game in his honour and swapped stories about him. We had banners and signs and sang him Happy Birthday throughout the day and had some cupcakes," Lewis said.
A GoFundMe page, set up to help Charlotte and Damon, has already raised more than $40,000, money that Lewis said will hopefully allow her sister some time to properly grieve the death of her husband and partner, and figure out how to move forward without him.
The original intent, she noted, was to try to raise enough money to cover the cost of a hotel near the hospital in London, so that Charlotte could stay close to her husband, but then the fundraiser continued to climb.
“We were hoping it would go towards rehabilitation costs as well as Charlotte (would be) staying home to help him … now we are looking at it helping with funeral costs and allowing (her) to be able to grieve properly before trying to figure out what she’s going to do for work," Lewis added.
Lewis said Groulx would be overwhelmed and grateful for the support the community is giving his family, and would simply ask that everyone rally around Charlotte and Damon during this difficult time.
“She is going to try to keep Mike’s employees with work, but it will eventually run out with Mike not being here," she said. "He didn’t have life insurance and they just finished paying off the wedding … so there’s not much in terms of financial stability.”
Collingwood OPP officials confirmed in an email to BarrieToday that Ministry of Labour attended the scene, but the status of the investigation was unknown.