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Ont. mother charged after son swept down Grand River to have trial heard in new location

Michelle Hanson, an Ontario mother facing charges after her son died when he was swept down the Grand River west of Orangeville in February 2018, has been granted a request to change the venue for her trial.

Dates for trial and location expected to be determined March 23

The lawyer for Michelle Hanson requested a change of venue for her trial because of the intense local interest in the case. That request was granted on Tuesday. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The Ontario mother whose son died after he was swept down the Grand River west of Orangeville in February 2018 will have her trial heard in a new location.

On Tuesday, a judge granted a request by Michelle Hanson's lawyer to move the case to a new location for the trial.

Crown attorney Danielle Garbaty confirmed the case will return to an Orangeville courthouse on March 23, where it's expected they'll learn where the trial will be held and on what dates.

Hanson faces two charges in relation to her son's death: impaired driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death. A previous charge of dangerous driving causing death was withdrawn.

Hundreds searched

Kaden Young, 3, died after he was swept down the Grand River west of Orangeville on Feb. 21, 2018.

There was flooding in the area near Hanson's home in Amaranth Township, west of Orangeville. Just before 1 a.m., police say Hanson drove around a road closure sign about a kilometre from their home.

The sign was in place because of the flooding and water over the road. Hanson's van went into the Grand River, and police say as Hanson and Young got out of the van, she lost her grip on her son and he was swept away.

Hundreds of people helped to search for the boy. Young's body was recovered two months later.

Hanson was ordered to stand trial in July 2019.

Kaden Young, 3, died after he was swept into the Grand River near Orangeville, Ont., on Feb. 21, 2018. (Submitted by the Young family)

Local interest in case

Hanson's lawyer Marco Forte has said they were considering a change of venue for the trial because of the intense scrutiny the case had received locally and online.

In an email Tuesday, he said his client is "thankful" the case won't be tried in Orangeville "where some local residents appear to have formed very strong opinions, based mostly on pre-determined allegiances, cheap rumors and gossip."

He added, "Ms. Hanson remains very emotional and distressed by the events that led to her son's death, but wishes only for a fair trial on the merits. We believe we will be able to receive one away from Orangeville."

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