Police and fire crews in Canada apologized after they mistook the burnt corpse of a missing woman for a mannequin, and threw it in a dumpster.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Danny McConnell, chief of police in Sherbrooke, a city in Quebec, explained that firefighters had responded to a report of a brush fire behind a baking factory on Cabana Street, at around 10am last Friday.
When firefighters got to the scene, witnesses told them that they believed someone had burnt a silicone mannequin behind the factory.
Police joined fire crews and officers and firefighters agreed that the body was a mannequin, and that they would place it in a container at police department headquarters, which McConnell said was not accessible to the public.
Police and firefighters in Sherbrooke, a city in Quebec, placed the burnt body of a woman in a dumpster (pictured) outside police headquarters last Friday, mistakenly believing it was a mannequin
Sherbrooke police chief Danny McConnell (pictured) apologized Thursday for the mix up
The container was reportedly a dumpster, according to Radio Canada.
McConnell said that at around 10.45am firefighters arrived at police headquarters with what they still believed was a mannequin, and placed it inside the dumpster, just outside.
They would, however, not begin to realize their mistake until four hours later when at 2.15pm a resident reported their wife missing.
Upon investigation, they tracked the woman's cell phone signal and were led to her car parked nearby the site of the fire that morning.
At that time, McConnell said, an officer who responded to the fire raised the point that the two events might not be coincidental.
It was not until around 6.30pm that police decided to collect the 'alleged mannequin' McConnell said, from the dumpster and examine it further, and discovered that it was the body of the missing woman.
'We are obviously sorry for this situation and rest assured that the family was notified at every key point in the investigation,' the chief said.
The first responders had been called to a brush fire outside of a baking factory on Cabana Street (pictured) in the central part of the city
Also speaking on Thursday, Stéphane Simoneau, head of the Sherbrooke fire department, said he wanted to share the details of the mishap to the public, and fix what he said was a lack of transparency with the public, Radio Canada reported.
'I'm quite stunned by this news and I can say that my entire team, the entire department, as well as those who were there that day, are in shock,' he said, noting that questions remained over how such a mistake could have occurred.
Simoneau also said that the incident had a psychological impact on the first responders.
'People were overcome by certain emotions, so we have to manage that situation in order to stabilize our teams, psychologically, and that's what we've been doing,' he said.
McConnell did not reveal the identity of the missing woman, and said a the city coroner was conducting an investigation.
Both declined to give further details about the incident.
A spokesman with the coroner's office said details surrounding the woman's death would be made available once its investigation is complete.