Toronto

Neville-Lake family devastated after memorial to children, grandfather destroyed

The family of three children and their grandfather killed in an impaired-driving crash in Vaughan, Ont., nearly three years ago are left grieving a different tragedy this weekend after the memorial commemorating their lives was destroyed by a windstorm on Friday.

Mother, father and strangers searched for pieces of site after Friday's windstorm

Jennifer Neville-Lake spent Sunday searching for pieces of a memorial for her three children and father who were killed by an impaired-driver in 2015. (James Morrison-Collalto/CBC)

The family of three children and their grandfather killed in an impaired-driving crash in Vaughan, Ont. nearly three years ago are left grieving what they say is a new tragedy this weekend after the memorial commemorating their lives was destroyed by a windstorm on Friday. 

"It's absolutely terrible," Jennifer Neville-Lake said in tears. 

Her children, Daniel, 8, Harrison, 5, and Milly, 2, were travelling in a minivan with their 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville, in September 2015, when an SUV driven by Marco Muzzo blew through a stop sign on a rural road near Kleinburg, Ont., hitting the minivan. The crash killed all four, and seriously injured two other family members who were in the car.

A photo taken on Valentine's Day shows the memorial before it was destroyed. (Submitted by Jennifer Neville-Lake)

Neville-Lake and her husband, Edward Lake, and a few strangers, walked up and down a stretch of Kipling Avenue on Sunday, searching for remaining pieces of the memorial that marks the spot where the children and grandfather died. 

"I just wanted to see if we could find any parts," Neville-Lake told CBC Toronto. 

They managed to recover a couple of flowers and a flag. But a small bicycle and several teddy bears were nowhere to be found after a windstorm swept through the Greater Toronto Area late Friday afternoon and left thousands without power. 

Strangers brought teddy bears and stuffed animals to help rebuild the memorial. (James Morrison-Collalto/CBC)

Jennifer Alviano, who has two children of her own, brought some stuffed animals and a rosary to help rebuild the memorial.

"When Jennifer posted last night saying everything was missing, it broke my heart. I couldn't sleep last night knowing that memorial was gone for the kids," she said. 

"We just wanted to come and show her that we have got her back and we're always thinking of them, they're always in our hearts."

"Thank you everybody for being so kind to us ... and being so patient with us," said Neville-Lake.

Siblings, from left to right: Harry, 5, Milly, 2, and Daniel, 9, died when a minivan they were travelling in was struck by an SUV in 2015. (York Regional Police)