The mother of three-year-old Kaden Young, who was swept away by the flooded Grand River near Orangeville, Ont., in 2018, has pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
Michelle Hanson entered the plea during a virtual court appearance on Tuesday morning.
Kaden was pulled out of his mother’s arms by the raging current after their minivan went into the swollen Grand River in the early hours of Feb. 21, 2018.
An agreed statement of facts read out in court detailed that Hanson decided to take her son for a drive because he was having trouble sleeping and the incident happened within minutes of leaving her home.
Court heard that Hanson drove around an eight-foot wooden barricade that held a reflective “road closed” sign and a number of orange pylons.
The road was completely submerged underwater and there was a flood advisory in effect at the time.
Kaden was in his car seat when the minivan was swept away. Hanson was able to escape with Kaden, but he slipped out of his mother’s hands and was swept down the river.
Despite a massive search for Kaden, his body wasn’t found for another two months under a bridge in Belwood Lake on April 21, 2018.
Court heard Hanson was pulled from the river by paramedics who detected alcohol on her breath.
The Centre of Forensic Sciences determined the presence of both alcohol and drugs in her blood, but testing showed Hanson’s blood alcohol concentration was 60 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milligrams of alcohol, which would be in the “warning range” for drivers.
Testing also showed oxycodone detected in Hanson’s blood within a therapeutic range. Court heard there was no evidence that show Hanson was impaired by the drugs found in her blood.
Hanson was initially charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death.
Both the impaired driving and dangerous driving charges were withdrawn by the Crown with Hanson only pleading guilty to the third charge.
She is scheduled to make a court appearance on Jan. 18 for sentencing.