Officials agree to look into installing barriers on Grand Valley road where child swept away
It’s been two weeks since Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms and away into the freezing, swollen Grand River in Grand Valley.
While provincial police maintain a presence, family of the three-year-old and volunteers continue the search but there has been no sign of the boy.
Inside Amaranth Town Hall, away from the river banks and ice jams, local residents have also issued the local town council a call to action.
On Wednesday afternoon, a delegation of about five local residents, armed with a petition signed by a thousand people from Sarnia to the Maritimes, addressed council with a suggestion they hope can prevent any other families from suffering the same heartbreak.
They asked council for three things: a set of guardrails along the east side of 10th Line north of Station Street (where Kaden’s mother’s car was pulled into the flooded river), better lighting along that stretch of road and more visible “road closed” signs for such situations.
“It only needs to rain two days in a row and the river will rise 12 to 14 feet,” said local resident Trish Hamilton about the section she called highly prone to flooding.
“We’ve had two to three overflows and flooding every year and we feel that these three requests will impede and prevent any further vehicle or pedestrian accidents in foggy, flooding or icy road conditions.”
With 10th Line flooded, Michelle Hanson, Kaden’s mother, reportedly missed and drove past a sign warning of a road closure on Feb. 21. Shortly after, it’s believed she ended up in water too deep for her van to handle and it was pulled into the swollen river. Kaden swept out of his mother’s arms as they tried to escape.
The town’s five-member council was quick to accept the requests brought to them Wednesday. They haven’t seen a tragedy like this before. Mayor Don MacIver said he wants to prevent the possibility of repeat incidents, especially after what he said have been unpredictable regional weather patterns in recent years.
“All it takes is four inches of water to move a vehicle and [the Feb. 21 flooding] was way beyond it. We’re talking in the order of magnitude of feet.”
Councillor Gail Little, who also supports the ideas presented, said many in the small, tight-knit community are still mourning and so “people want to do something.”
“[Residents] want to make a change, they want to ensure that it doesn’t happen again and they’re looking for what they can do to help this situation.”
Deputy Mayor Jane Aultman said the proposed measures could work in the suggested area, “however, it’s very important that council makes the right decision on the engineering of the guardrail.”
Town staff have been directed to consult with safety and infrastructure experts over the next month and to report their findings back to council in April. Council will decide how to move forward after the report is tabled.
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