'Achingly beautiful' memorial erected for Neville-Lake children killed in September crash
'We truly wish that we were all together for any other reason,' parents say
As over a hundred people gathered at a ceremony in King City on Sunday, to commemorate three children and their grandfather lost to a fatal drinking and driving crash last September, Jennifer Neville-Lake wept quietly at an empty park nearby.
Well-wishers held today's ceremony in honour of the Neville-Lake children — Daniel, 9, Harrison, 5 and Milly, 2 — and Jennifer's father, Gary Neville, 65, who died in the crash on Sept. 27. Organizers said they created the memorial for the parents to have a permanent place to honour their children and father.
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Jennifer declined to speak to reporters Sunday as she sat on a bench where her family members' names are permanently etched. But while not present at the ceremony itself, held at Wellesley Park, the parents described the memorial trees and bench installed in the victims' memory as "achingly beautiful."
"It means so much to us that [the bench and trees] were placed in a playground that our children were so anxious to see and play on. We truly wish that we were all together for any other reason and our children could be playing with yours here today," the statement issued Sunday by parents Jennifer and Edward Neville-Lake read.
In March, 29-year-old Marco Muzzo pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm in connection with the crash in Vaughan. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and will be subject to a 12-year-ban on driving following his release.
Making a memory
Peter Budziak attended the gathering with his children and said he empathizes with the parents, having nearly lost his one-year-old daughter when she required a liver transplant.
"We kind of have a shadow of an idea of what they're going through," he said. "We have an idea of what they're feeling. She was very close," adding that his daughter will turn two in September.
Jennifer Stallman was one of the organizers of the ceremony and is a member of a Facebook group called Entertain Kids on a Dime, which raised money for the memorial.
"It's therapeutic. She doesn't have to sit in a cemetery every time she wants to remember her kids," she said Sunday.
"You can't bring back the kids but we wanted to do something to make a memory for them."
With files from Natalie Kalata