While scant information is available news media report that a vehicle entered the Grand River west of Orangeville and a child occupant of the submerged vehicle is missing.

Just after posting the news item below regarding the drowning near Jarvis, Ontario, news media are now reporting that a vehicle entered the Grand River near Grand Valley, about 20 kilometres west of Orangeville, Ontario where it has been found submerged. A female driver of the vehicle managed to escape however news media are indicating that a child occupant of the vehicle is missing. The vehicle was reportedly swept several kilometres downstream, presumably south, from where it entered. Efforts will now be made to withdraw the vehicle from the river.

Again, the question remains, how did the vehicle come to enter the water? Police are quoted as saying the driver entered onto a closed road and then subsequently entered the water but that says very little. Which road was closed? How was it closed? Was it something where sufficient information was not provided to the driver and a misunderstanding occurred? Where precisely did this entering of the water occur? As per past experience these are important questions that are unlikely to see the light of day.

UPDATE: February 23, 2018; 0900 hours

Further details have been revealed in the last couple of days however majors issues still remain unanswered.

In earlier reports the incident reportedly occurred at 0215 hours however several news agencies reported it occurred at 0100 hours on February 21, 2018. The site where the van entered into the Grand River was reported to be “near 10th Line and Henry Street. It was reported that the van was swept down the river for several kilometres.

In a CP24 News article of 1403 hours of February 21st it was reported that the incident occurred at precisely 0053 hours when a witness saw the headlights of a vehicle bobbing and pointing upward out of the Grand River. A female driver and a 3-year-old child had occupied the vehicle. Constable Paul Nancekivell was quoted as saying “She managed to free herself right away and then the van was swept away moments later”. At approximately 0930 hours a van was reportedly located stuck in the middle of the Grand River however due the fast running water and large ice flows it was determined unsafe for rescuers to reach the vehicle and a cable was attached to it to prevent its further travel down the river. The location of the van was described as “under a bridge in between the 9th Line and 10th Line”.

In a further update by CP24 News at 2018 hours of February 21st, it was reported that a 3-year-old boy was missing as he was swept away from his mother’s grip after their minivan entered the river. The time of the incident was confirmed by police as 0053 hours. Police indicated that the female driver drove past a road block adjacent to the river where water was rushing over top of the road. The van was then swept into the river. Police indicated that the driver was about to exit the van with her son when “the boy was swept away from her grip down the river”. The van was found further downstream and secured with cables. Rescuers were in the process of searching for the boy.

Visibility at the time of the incident was reported to be extremely poor such that “You couldn’t see past the hood of your vehicle”.

There was still no specific information about the location where the van was swept away from the road and where it was found.

In a Hamilton Spectator newspaper article Grand Valley District Chief Kevin McNeilly was quoted as saying that the weather conditions were “treacherous” at the time the mother and son were swept away. It was extremely foggy and at one point the river rose three feet in a matter of 20 minutes.

In a CP24 News article at 0834 hours of February 22nd it was confirmed that the van had already been pulled out of the water however its exact location was still not provided.

In a Toronto Star newspaper article the young boy was identified as Kaden Young and his mother, Michelle Hanson was the driver of the van. Some indication of the location was provided in the phrase “Firefighters found Hanson, hypothermic, at a watery alcove on the river’s bank”. While this information is exceeding scant, at least it refers to an alcove.

In an article published by CBC News at 0919 hours of February 22nd, some specifics were provided. It indicated that the mother drove past a road closure sign and it was foggy at the time but police opined that she knew the sign was there.

In an article published by CJOY, Constable Nancekivell was quoted as saying that Michell Hanson had been “driving southbound down 10th Line and failed to stop at the road closure that had been in place. The woman drove into heavy water and when she tried to back up, the van was swept into the Grand River”. Hanson reportedly pulled her son from the van after it was swept into the river but lost her grip. She managed to pull herself onto the bank of the river but the van was swept seven kilometres down river and got stuck in some silt. Hanson was reported to live in the area.

In a Hamilton Spectator newspaper article of 0544 hours, February 22nd, the authors indicated that Hanson “accidentally missed a road-closure sign”, suggesting that she did not do so deliberately as suggested by Constable Nancekivell. The article also quoted Hanson’s family members who stated that Hanson did not see the road-closure sign due to dark and foggy conditions. Fire Chief Kevin McNeilly was quoted to say that his firefighters initially responded to a call about a motor vehicle collision just before 1 a.m. but, while on route, they were notified that a vehicle had gone into the river. If there was a second incident involving an accident it has not been reported by any other agencies. A rescue vehicle was sent to the Dufferin County Road 109 bridge where they heard Hanson’s calls for help.

This would imply that the van must have been carried past the Cty Rd 109 bridge if Hanson was not carried with the van. However it is possible that she also might have been carried downstream for some distance or that perhaps she moved down stream of her own volition. Yet the article indicated the van was found “upstream” where it was secured. This is rather confusing as it would suggest that Hanson was carried downstream, to the south,  past the van which was found upstream, or north of her location at the Cty Rd 109 bridge.

Examination of the photos showing the van’s location one can observe a utility pole sticking out of the water and comparing this to images on GoogleMaps suggests that the pole in question was located on the north edge of the the bridge of Cty Rd 109, although we cannot be absolutely certain. A further examination of the GoogleMaps data suggests that the distance from the Cty Rd 109 bridge northward to the hamlet of Waledmar is slightly more than 1 kilometre and, if the van was swept along the river for seven kilometres as indicated by news media this does not make sense.  Further analysis indicates that the distance northward from the Cty Rd 109 bridge to the point where the 10th Line crosses the Grand River is only 2.3 kilometres thus this is also far short of the seven kilometres that was quoted in the CJOY article. None of this confusion has been clarified.

Having examined further news media photos it is our opinion that the van was swept away from the road at a bend in the 10th Line located 1.5 kilometres north of the Cty Rd 109 bridge. This is a location just a few hundred metres north of Henry Street in the hamlet of Waledmar. In our opinion the van was likely stopped at the Cty Rd 109 bridge where Ms. Hanson was also found. At least this is the best interpretation that can be made based on the confusing information that has been reported. In fact the those reporting the incident could not have made this information any more confusing nor as if there was a purposeful attempt to preventing anyone from knowing the precise manner in which this incident unfolded.

There is an obvious conflict with respect to what happened as Ms. Hanson approached the wash out and why she passed through the reported road closure. If the water at the site had been rising as quickly as 3 feet per every 20 minutes it is not difficult to imagine that an initial placement of a road closure barricade could be overwhelmed by the rising water. The barricade could be partially submerged or even knocked over, as has been witnessed on a number of previous occasions on any roadway. If there was an actual trailer with some mass to it then that interference could be less likely. If   a barricade remained standing then, even in dense fog, it would be difficult to image that Ms. Hanson could not have detected it if it was properly placed a cross the majority of the road width. Granted, with the lack of visibility she might be expected to drive into the barrier but it is difficult to believe she would not actually detect its presence. So what were the actual conditions at the road closure. There have no questions or answers provided on this important issue. As typical there a substantial outpouring of grief and emotion which is detracting form the important quest to reveal how and why this innocent boy likely came to his death.

Ultimately the revelation of how this came about is a societal issue, not a personal one, as we must all be responsible for ensuring that no one dies from unknown reasons by the actions of unknown persons.