Laval daycare bus crash child victim was a ‘ray of sunshine,’ family says

Click to play video: 'Family remembers 5-year-old Laval bus crash victim'
Family remembers 5-year-old Laval bus crash victim
WATCH: One of two children who was killed last week after a city bus rammed into a Laval daycare is being remembered by her family. Her grieving parents described five-year-old Maëva David as a ray of light, who loved life and enjoyed going to daycare to play with her friends. Global’s Felicia Parrillo has more – Feb 14, 2023

The parents of Maëva David, a young girl who was killed when a transit bus smashed into a child care centre in Laval, Que., last week, describe their daughter as a “ray of sunshine” who adored going to daycare.

Jessica Therrien and Nicolas David penned a heartfelt letter to their daughter that was published in several francophone media outlets across the province Monday. A spokesperson for her family confirmed Tuesday that Maëva had just turned five years old in early February.

The deadly crash led to the deaths of two children, including Maëva, and injured six others, during the busy drop-off period on the morning of Feb. 8. The accused is facing nine charges, including two counts of first-degree murder.

In the days that followed, there was an outpouring of grief and support in the community. Residents have displayed flowers, letters, candles and stuffed animals near the daycare in honour of the young victims.

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Click to play video: 'Mass held to honour victims of Laval daycare bus crash'
Mass held to honour victims of Laval daycare bus crash

In their own words, Maëva’s parents describe how their young daughter left too quickly — and how that should never have happened.

Their family, including her older sister and brother, have lost “the company of a genuine ray of sunshine” who lived life to the fullest.

Maëva was “bursting with energy,” they say, adding that she spent more time in the air than on the ground — but she was also deeply calm and gave her full attention during activities.

Her grieving mother and father spoke of their young daughter’s love for life, saying Maëva described the days as “really awesome.” Between her physical abilities and sharp mind, she was “capable of anything.”

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Maëva also loved attending and playing with her friends at her daycare, the Garderie Éducative Ste-Rose.

“She always had the right word to make you laugh or to make you react,” her parents wrote.

Click to play video: 'Laval daycare bus crash: Community unites in support of victims’ families'
Laval daycare bus crash: Community unites in support of victims’ families

Maëva had everything she needed to become a “committed and multi-talented citizen,” they say, but her memory will live on through the lives she touched.

“She will continue to shine in her own way by what she has taught us every day, by the unforgettable memories she gifts to us as well as by the lessons learned from the unspeakable incident that made her heart stop beating,” they wrote, “but which will not stop her from being our little shooting star forever.”

Her family also took the time to express their sympathy for the other victims and to thank those who reached out and supported them in different ways since the tragedy, including those who quickly intervened following the crash.

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There will be a special ceremony at the Sainte-Rose-de-Lima church in Laval to honour Maëva’s life, though a date was not given.

“Your gestures mean a lot to us and we are grateful to you,” her parents wrote.

‘This feeling of helplessness haunts me’

The owner of the daycare also spoke publicly about last week’s tragedy in a letter published Tuesday by French-language outlet La Presse.

Nancy Gschwender recalled rushing to her daycare following the news of the tragedy, only to be left feeling powerless after police wouldn’t let her past the security barricades.

“To the team, to the director, I tell you: this feeling of helplessness haunts me,” she wrote in a portion of the letter directed to the daycare’s staff.

“I wish I could chase away the images that will remain etched in your memory forever. But also know that you have all my admiration and my eternal gratitude. I’m proud of you.”

She said she is working with different authorities and levels of government to support the families of the children who attend the daycare and ensure they get the proper services.

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with files from Global News’ Felicia Parrillo and The Canadian Press

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