A crash site memorial where three children and their grandfather were killed by an impaired driver in Vaughan, Ont., three years ago has been removed and the family is questioning where the cherished items of remembrance have gone.
“The crash site memorial where so many wonderful and kind people leave flowers for my family is gone. Everything. Oh God,” the children’s mother, Jennifer Neville-Lake, said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Two pictures posted by the family show an open field and a patch of dirt at the corner of Kipling Avenue and Kirby Road where the memorial was originally placed.
Neville-Lake said if Friday’s windstorm was a factor, that doesn’t explain why the holes in the ground were filled up and the crosses, bicycle and sign were missing.
“If the city had an issue then I would have hoped they would have told me so I had a chance to remove the items,” she said.
“If I could buy the land and put a plaque there I would in a heartbeat. I am heartbroken. Why???”
Daniel, 9, Harrison, 5, Milly, 2, and their grandfather, Gary Neville, 65, were all killed after the van they were in was T-boned by an SUV north of Toronto on Sept. 27, 2015.
Marco Muzzo, the man behind the wheel of the SUV, pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm in 2016. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Neville-Lake said she and her husband visit the site from time to time and returned again over the weekend to drop off three letters, one of them addressed to the city of Vaughan, with the hope of having the items returned.
“The community has built a memorial here and continues to leave flowers and items,” the letter to the city of Vaughan stated.
“When we arrived on May 5 to clean up the items after the windstorm we noticed that the entire site had been removed. We are asking for the return of the items and we would like to see if we can buy this space from you.”
Global News contacted the city of Vaughan on Monday and a spokesperson said they were not responsible for removing the memorial.
“City of Vaughan staff did not remove the memorial. People are permitted to contribute to the existing site, should they wish,” Michael Genova said in an email.
As the family continues to wonder who was responsible, a subsequent Facebook post on Sunday said a couple came by and dropped off some items to rebuild the memorial.
“To the kind couple who took time out of their time to come by the crash site and leave items in the memorial, thank you so much for your kindness. It means so much to us,” Neville-Lake said.
— With a file from Caryn Lieberman