Three Guyanese die of carbon monoxide poisoning in Canada

A well-known Canada-based Guyanese businessman of Brampton, Ontario died early yesterday morning along with his wife and one of his two sons after reportedly inhaling carbon monoxide from propane heaters which they were using indoors after their furnace stopped working in frigid conditions.

Dead are Peter Pitamber, 60, owner of the popular Calypso Hut in Queen Street, Brampton; his wife Seeta Pitamber, 59, and their son Terry Pitamber, 36.

“It’s just a tragedy … a terrible situation,” Peel Regional Police Constable Fiona Thivierge was quoted as saying in the Canadian press yesterday.

According to CBC news, at around 2 am yesterday, emergency services were called to a house by Jerry Pitamber, 29, who had arrived at his family’s Linden Crescent home to find carbon monoxide detectors activated and members of his family unconscious.

Peter Pitamber
Peter Pitamber

Five people inside the home were taken to hospital, where three were pronounced dead.

Two others were treated and have since been released. The other two persons were Paul Rampersaud, 56, Peter’s younger brother, and a friend of the family. Paul Rampersaud owns a second Calypso Hut in Mississauga, Ontario.

At the time of the incident, the family had gathered at the Pitamber home to mourn the recent death of Paul and Peter’s mother.




Here in Guyana, Pitamber’s brother Stanley Rampersaud, who also owns a Calypso Hut in Corentyne, Berbice and was the first to open this line of business in Canada, was too distraught to speak. His wife Radha told Stabroek News that the now dead man was well loved.

“He was a very well-liked person. He had the biggest heart in the world. There was nothing I could ask for that he did not give. In fact, I did not even have to ask,” Radha said.

Terry and Seeta Pitamber (CBC News photo)
Terry and Seeta Pitamber (CBC News photo)

She recalled that her daughter recently got married and Peter had catered all of the food free of cost.

She said the brothers’ father, Pitamber Rampersaud, died in 1973 and Peter being the oldest took on the role of father figure.

His father would have told him to be a father to his younger siblings and Radha said he fulfilled that role “until he took his last breath.”

The woman, who also lives in Canada, said it was only on February 27 that the brothers lost their mother. Radha said she brought her mother-in-law’s ashes home to Guyana for burial next to her daughter, who died 11 years ago. She said that was her mother-in-law’s request.

She had planned to return to Canada come Saturday, but said with this tragedy she will remain here to support her husband. While the three will be cremated in Canada, she said, their ashes too, will be returned to Guyana.

Explaining the difference in the last names of the brothers, Radha said that Peter, who had visited Guyana just last July, took his father’s first name as his surname.

Peter Pitamber migrated in 1976 and according to the woman it was her husband who would have opened the first Calypso Hut in August 1988, followed by another in May 1990, which is operated by Paul Rampersaud. The third location, owned by Peter Pitamber, was opened in January 1990. Stanley closed the first location in 2000 and re-migrated to Guyana where he opened a Calypso Hut, which he still operates today.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan, who is a relative of the family, yesterday described Peter as a “kind guy” who supported the AFC and would hold yearly fund raising activities for the party.

“He was one of the few businessmen, along with David Singh, who were brave enough to support the party openly,” Ramjattan said.

He recalled that whenever he and his family travelled to Canada the man took good care of them.

“He was such a nice human being,” the AFC leader said adding that while yesterday they would have been celebrating the Phagwah holiday they were in mourning.



Paul Rampersaud issued a statement yesterday to the media and the following was published on the CBC news website.

“Today has been an unimaginable and horrific day for our family,” it read. “The past few weeks have been extremely difficult, as we have been grieving the death of my mother who passed a few weeks ago.

“My brother, Peter Pitamber, came to this country from Guyana over three decades ago. From humble beginnings he became a respected businessman and active member of the Brampton community.

Peter built a strong home for his family, and we ask that you now pray for his surviving son, Jerry.

“We are currently in the process of making funeral arrangements and would ask that the media kindly respect our privacy during this devastating time.”

Police believe the family’s furnace stopped working on Sunday, and at some point, propane heaters were taken inside to heat the home. Overnight temperatures Sunday dipped to the –15 C range with the windchill making it feel like it was –20s.

Police said those who died were in the upper level of the home, while the survivors were on the lower level.

“We would caution people to not bring propane heaters into their house,” said Thivierge. “It’s a very dangerous situation.”

Latest in Local News

default placeholder

Body found in rubble of Wales fire

At 01:30hrs today, police say that a fire destroyed a home at Wales, West Bank Demerara, and the body of an unidentified person was subsequently discovered among the rubble.

default placeholder

Exxon Mobil says second well confirms `significant’ oil find

Exxon Mobil Corporation today said that drilling results from the Liza-2 well, the second exploration well in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana, confirm a world-class find with a recoverable deposit of between 800 million and 1.4 billion oil-equivalent barrels.

default placeholder

Proposed law bans smoking in public places

Proposed tobacco control legislation will see a ban on smoking in public places while cigarette advertising will no longer be allowed and pictorial and text health warnings will have to be displayed on at least 75% of the packaging on tobacco products.

default placeholder

$800M in specialty hospital steel ‘awarded’ to BK

Government needs to explain why about $800 million worth of steel and other equipment that were earmarked for the now-frozen specialty hospital project, went solely to businessman Brian Tiwarie, former President Donald Ramotar says.

Ezekiel Murray

Truck driver jailed for three years for crash causing child’s death

Clyde Barker, the truck driver who was accused of running over 12-year-old Ezekiel Murray along the Friendship Public Road last year and causing his death, was yesterday sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.

default placeholder

Businessman jailed and fined over gun, ammo possession

A businessman was yesterday sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined $100,000 after being found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

default placeholder

Business minister ‘in denial’ over economic ‘crisis’

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said that Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin is in denial about Guyana not being in an economic crisis.

Kevin Joshua

Man found guilty of disfiguring teen in acid attack

Kevin Joshua, who doused a schoolboy with acid and left him disfigured, was on Tuesday found guilty by a jury of inflicting grievous bodily harm on the youth.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: