Kitchener-Waterloo

Mourners say tragic death of 3-year-old Kaden Young, 'brought a lot of people together'

Three-year-old Kaden Young was on Saturday hailed as a unifying force whose death brought a grieving community together.

Young was swept down the Grand River on Feb. 21. His body was recovered 2 months later

A funeral was held Saturday for three-year-old Kaden Young who went missing in February. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

Three-year-old Kaden Young was on Saturday hailed as a unifying force whose death brought a grieving community together.

Young went missing in the Grand River on Feb. 21. His body was not found until late April.

Following his funeral which was held at Dods and McNair funeral chapel in Mono, Ontario, a spokesperson for the family said the service was a great help for both the family and community.

"It was a beautiful service and I really think it was needed for everyone in the community that helped in the search, for closure for them also, not just for the family," Dianne Prendergast-Walters said.

"I'm really proud to be from a community that is willing to go to these lengths to look for a little boy that many people didn't know and to come together for the family. I'm just thankful that there is closure now that he has been found, and I really hope that the family can move on and the rest of the community can move on."

Dianne Prendergast-Walters (left) and Kaitlyn Prendergast-Kitchener. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

Young was in a van with his mother, Michelle Hanson around 1 a.m., when she drove past a road closure sign about a kilometre from the family's home near Grand Valley.

Water had gone over the road and the van went into the river. Hanson was able to free herself and her son from the van, but the force of the water swept him out of her arms.

Hundreds of volunteers joined daily searches to look for Kaden's body.

"I think it [the funeral service] was very much needed for the families," Kaitlyn Prendergast-Kitchener said.

"It's been very overwhelming, it's been very confusing sometimes going out and it's amazing what we've seen today and I think it very much summarizes the experiences of everyone involved."

A fisherman located Young's body around 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 21. The body was in the water immediately north of the Belwood Bridge on Wellington County Road 26, within the Village of Belwood, police said.

Const. Paul Nancekivell says Young's death tested the collective faith of the community, but also brought them together. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

Const. Paul Nancekivell of the Ontario Provincial Police said Young's drowning was the 10th such case he was involved with in his 30 years with the force.

He said the death not only tested the collective faith of the community, but also brought them together.

"This brought a lot of people together that didn't know each other and formed a lot of new friendships and relationships," Nancekivell  said.

"It's never an easy time. You test your faith. You think 'why a three-year-old kid, why does God do that to people?' So it's hard to deal with."

But Nancekivell  said he tried to look beyond the grief and focus on taking care of the family, while thinking how he would want to be treated if he was the one going through the tragedy.

"Help them, and walk them through this, and get them through the grieving process . . . to remember Kaden in a positive way, and to try to spin this around from a tragedy, eventually into a more positive remembrance of him," Nancekivell added.

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