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Park named after boy who died after wandering from home

News Staff | posted Wednesday, Jun 27th, 2018

A park in North York has been renamed in honour of a three-year-old boy who froze to death on a bitterly cold night in February, 2015.

While his family slept, Elijah Marsh slipped out of his grandmother’s apartment on Neptune Drive, near Bathurst Street and Highway 401, in just his diaper, boots and a T-shirt.

Temperatures were below -20 C at the time.

Dozens of volunteers scoured the area in the hours that followed, and he was found behind a nearby house without a pulse.

Paramedics took him to North York General Hospital in critical condition, and he was later pronounced dead.

The tragedy touched many across the country and prompted a Toronto man to start a crowdfunding campaign that raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay for funeral costs and support the family.

Late last year, Coun. Josh Colle put forward a motion at city council to rename Rajah Park, where Elijah would often play.

“As part of the process to mourn and support his family, but also to support the community and the resiliency of this community, I put forward a motion here at council to rename the park that will now be called Elijah Park,” Colle said.

On Tuesday, the new park signs were unveiled “(not only) as a testament both to this wonderful little boy but also to a community that was suffering from the loss. And hopefully this will help them move forward,” he added.

A commemorative plaque was presented to Elijah’s family at the public ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, and it will be installed in the park this fall, along with a memorial tree.

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