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Mayor of Montreal-area community dies after being stung by wasps

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LA PRAIRIE, Que. - The mayor of a Montreal-area community has died after being stung repeatedly by wasps.

Lucie F. Roussel passed away in hospital on Sunday, according to municipal authorities in La Prairie.

A spokeswoman for the town said Roussel, 51, was not allergic to wasp stings.

"She was stung on several parts of her legs — about 15 times from what we think," Chantal Charron said Monday.

"She was overcome by the number of stings. When the ambulance technicians arrived, they tried to give her (an adrenalin injection) but they couldn't save her."

Jean Bergeron, the town's director-general, said he was in a "state of shock."

"Losing someone in such a way is difficult," he said. "It's traumatic."

Dr. Mitch Shulman, a Montreal emergency medicine specialist, says while Roussel apparently was not allergic to wasps, the number of stings may have been enough to cause her death — especially if she had an underlying heart condition.

"Think about it, 15 venomous flying insects all striking at about the same time . . that's a tremendous amount of venom to hit someone's system with," he said in an interview.

"Depending on your underlying health situation and your underlying medical problems, it's easily understandable how that might overwhelm your body's ability to protect itself."

Shulman said he was curious to know about Roussel's condition when ambulance technicians arrived.

"If she was too far gone, if she was already not breathing properly, if her heart rhythm was already off, if her blood pressure had dropped, she may have been too far gone for them to save at that point," he said.

Roussel, who was stung while gardening at her cottage in Stratford, about 200 kilometres east of Montreal, ran unsuccessfully for the Quebec Liberals in the 2012 provincial election.

Flags on municipal buildings in La Prairie, just south of Montreal, flew at half-mast on Monday.

Roussel had two adult children: Constance, 18, and Antonin, 19.

"She was a dynamic woman," said Suzanne Roy, head of the union of Quebec municipalities.

"She was in politics because she believed in families and believed she could bring about change."

Premier Philippe Couillard also tweeted his condolences.

— With files from Melanie Marquis and Peter Rakobowchuk in Montreal

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