Bancroft, Ont. toddler died in hot car in a ‘dreadful accident,’ older says

An Ontario toddler who died after being left in a hot car in Bancroft, Ont. — A town north of Peterborough — on Thursday he was forgotten by accident by his mother, according to the town’s mayor.

Major Bancroft Paul Jenkins identified the child as Everett Smith, nearly two. The mayor said he was a long-time friend of the family.

The child’s mother was a teacher at North Hastings High School, according to Jenkins, and thought she had dropped him off at daycare.

But, tragically, she ended up “discovering him in the car later that afternoon.”

Everett had an older brother who is five, and they were “a real tight, loving family and the mom and dad devoted their lives to their two boys,” Jenkins said, urging people to rally around them.

“It was just a dreadful accident.”

The child's mother was a teacher at North Hastings High School, according to Jenkins, and thought she had dropped him off at daycare.  But, tragically, she ended up "discovering him in the car later that afternoon."

The Bancroft Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was called to a parking lot on Monck Road on June 23, around 3:45 pm, where officers found a 23-month-old child with “no vital signs,” according to a report from the Star’s sister paper the Renfrew Mercury.

The child was taken to hospital by ambulance and pronounced dead shortly after.

Asked to confirm the identity of the child and details around the case, OPP A/Sgt. Erin Cranton said in an email that they will not be releasing any further details until the investigation is complete.

“This is a tragic situation. We are still in the early stages of the investigation, which is in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario,” Cranton said.

“We are aware of the information that is circulating, however we are not in a position to comment at this time, nor will we speculate as to why or how this happened. “

It was a very hot day on Thursday, with much of southern Ontario under a heat warning. It is not the first death of a child in a hot car in Ontario. In 2018, a three-year-old boy died after being forgotten in a hot vehicle in Burlington outside his dad’s workplace.

His father, who thought he had dropped his son off at daycare, was criminally charged but later received an absolute discharge from a Milton judge, who said at the time it was one of the saddest cases she’d ever seen.

According to The Canadian Press, a 2019 study by the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children found six children died unattended in hot cars between 2013 and 2018 in Canada. The same study noted that “experts believe that under the right circumstances, forgetting an infant or child in the back seat could happen to anyone.”

Jenkins said he has been in touch with Everett’s grandfather and wants the story to be told to encourage other parents to be aware of the horrifying possibility of leaving a child in the car.

“If one life can be saved out of this, this story needs to be told,” he said.

“If this story just tweaks other parents or other people to look over their shoulder when they leave their car, or you know, put your briefcase in the back seat or your lunch or whatever.”

Some new cars now have an alarm that goes off when something is left in the back seat for this very reason.

“It happens more than we like to think it happens,” Jenkins added.

Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board spokesperson Kerry Donnell said in an email the board is not releasing a statement.

“We are aware of a tragic event that occurred at North Hastings High School,” Donnell added.

“What we can confirm is that supports are in place for students and staff, as is our usual process in such situations.”

In a message last week on their Facebook page, North Hastings High School announced that a planned Grade Eight graduation was suddenly postponed on Thursday, “due to an emergency at the school.”

A memorial fundhas been created in Everett’s name.

“This fund will be used to create opportunities for children and families to experience joy in Everett’s memory honoring his legacy,” the fund’s page said.

“One look at his infectious grin and your worries would melt away.”

With files from Laurie Weir, Metroland Media, and The Canadian Press

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