Kitchener-Waterloo·Photos

Candlelit vigil held on Belwood bridge to remember Kaden Young

More than 100 people gathered on a bridge in Belwood, Ont., Wednesday night to remember Kaden Young, the three-year-old boy who was swept out of his mother's arms during flooding near Grand Valley in February. His body was found on Saturday.

'Look at the size of the family we have here tonight ... We brought Kaden home'

Kaden Young's mother Michelle Hanson at a vigil for her son. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Holding umbrellas to ward off a cold drizzle, some clutching battery-operated candles, more than 100 people gathered on a bridge in Belwood, Ont., Wednesday night to remember three-year-old Kaden Young.

The boy's body was found on Saturday near Belwood Lake — beside the bridge where the vigil was held — two months after he went missing in the Grand River during flooding.

Richard Croft, who organized a grid search along the banks of the river for weeks, led the vigil and thanked those who volunteers for their hard work.

"You guys are all my heroes," he told the crowd.

Kaden Young, 3, went missing after he was pulled from his mothers arms and swept into the Grand River near Orangeville, Ont., on Feb. 21. (Submitted by the Young family)

Another man said everyone is now family.

"Look at the size of the family we have here tonight and this family did one thing, and we came to the result we wanted to come to. We brought Kaden home," he said.

One woman named Angela said she didn't know the family, "but I felt the last two months, that Kaden was part of my life."

Tearful, she told Kaden's mom, Michelle Hanson, that she was in everyone's prayers while a woman named Lisa said she hoped the family felt the love from everyone who came out to support them.

"It's just beyond overwhelming," she said.

Another woman led the crowd in singing This Little Light of Mine.

People light candles on the bridge in Belwood, Ont., where three-year-old Kaden Young's body was found on Saturday. More than 100 people attended the vigil for Kaden Wednesday night. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Family, friends and strangers searched

Kaden went missing around 1 a.m. on Feb. 21. He was in a van with Hanson when she went past a road closure.

They were about a kilometre from their home, located near Grand Valley west of Orangeville, when the van got caught up in flood waters over the road. The van went into the river and Hanson freed herself and Kaden, but the force of the water swept her son out of her arms.

The family — including Hanson and Kaden's dad, Cam Young — friends and strangers gathered daily to search for Kaden's body in the weeks following.

Kaden's body was found around 3 p.m. on Saturday by a local fisherman.

The body was in the water immediately north of the Belwood Bridge on Wellington County Road 26, within the Village of Belwood, police said.

The family is planning a public memorial on May 5 at 11 a.m. at Compass Church in Mono.

A woman holds a blue umbrella and blue and white flowers while attending a vigil for Kaden Young. Family and friends said blue was one of Kaden's favourite colours. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

'Sad, but he's home'

Ontario Provincial Police closed off the bridge on Wellington County Road 26 Wednesday night for the vigil, which lasted about 45 minutes.

In an interview, Croft said he wasn't surprised by how many people came out.

"Kaden touched many hearts," he said.

Croft was on the bridge when Kaden was found. He said he felt, "It was a bit of relief, sad, but he's home."

Some left candles behind on the bridge near the spot where Kaden Young's body was found on Saturday. The blue lights on the bridge were strung there weeks ago by volunteers who said at the time it was a way to symbolically guide Kaden home. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Barry Green of Cambridge helped out at homebase twice during the searches.

"I felt compelled to at least come out and at least help somehow," Green said.

By the end of vigil, the rain had stopped.

As people turned to go, blue solar-powered Christmas lights volunteers strung up weeks ago on that bridge and all the bridges between Belwood Lake and where the van went into the water, turned on.

People hugged each other.

Some lit their candles and left them on the side of the bridge closest to where Kaden's body was found.

And then, they said goodbye.