A 3-year-old Toronto boy freezes to death after wandering from his home. The 3-year-old’s body was found this week in the sub zero temps that are rocking the Northeast and lower Canada. The Toronto toddler walked out the front doors of his apartment building around 4 a.m. Thursday and spent approximately six hours in the bitter cold, wearing only a T-shirt, boots and a pull-up diaper.
Writes CBC News on Feb. 19: “Elijah Marsh was found without vital signs on Baycrest Avenue around 10:20 a.m. ET yesterday, just a few hundred meters from the north-end apartment where he was spending the night with family. Just after 2 p.m., police confirmed he had died.”
After putting the three-year-old to bed around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, the boy’s family didn’t realize he was gone until 7:30 the next morning. Security footage at the low-rise apartment complex shows Elijah pushing through the front doors and wandering off. Overnight temperatures had dropped to negative ten degrees Fahrenheit.
Hundreds of volunteers partnered with family members and police, canine and horseback units to scour the neighborhood. Two volunteers were the first to find Elijah. He was curled up in the yard of a neighbor’s home, huddled against a window well. He had no vital signs when he was found and was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly thereafter.
Police Insp. Frank Barredo said the family has no idea what prompted him to wander off. “He left that doorway and made his way out — the exact route we can’t tell you. We may be able to find that out, we may never find that out, but we know where he ended up,” Barredo told reporters.
Toronto Mayor John Tory called Elijah’s death a “terrible tragedy,” later tweeting: “My heartfelt condolences to the family…Toronto’s thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.”
Police Chief Bill Blair had a more personal message: “I think every Torontonian will feel the loss,” he said. “I think it’ll remind all of us to go home and just hug our kids a little bit more. And I think we all will grieve for that child and for their family and for their community for its loss.”
Elijah was found in the yard of neighbor and mother of three Rachel Eizentil, who said her sister-in-law called her early Thursday to let her know about the search. Eizentil said she never thought to look in her own backyard and was stunned when she saw volunteers and authorities converge in her yard.
“I saw in the news that everybody was looking in their backyard but I didn’t think I should go because I didn’t think he would be here,” Rachel Eizental said, adding that neither her nor her husband heard anything that night.
Added neighbor Donna Castrucci, who lives across the street from the Eizentils: “It’s shocking. I’m just feel sorry for his parents… I have children myself. As soon as I heard the news I just started to cry.”
According to Yahoo News Canada, the city of Toronto has issued 26 warnings of extreme cold this winter. In negative ten-degree temps, frostbite can set in on exposed skin it ten to fifteen minutes as the body pulls blood from our extremities in order to keep our organs and head warm. Prolonged hypothermia then leads to failure of the heart and respiratory system.
A Twitter hashtag, #ripelijah, has been immersed with an outpouring of support and condolences. A crowdfunding campaign on tilt.com has also been started to help cover the costs of Elijah’s funeral. As of the writing of this article, over $140,000 had been pledged. The site reads:
“The death of this child must be truly devastating to the family and friends of Elijah, the many members of the law enforcement and medical community in Toronto, as well as the countless Torontonians who helped search for him, spread the message of his disappearance and prayed for his safe return.”