A Toddler Has Died In Ontario After He Was Left In A Hot Car While Mom Taught, Mayor Says

"It's beyond your worst nightmare," Mayor Paul Jenkins said.

Toronto Associate Editor
Everett Smith. Right: Flowers laid on the ground for the child in front of North Hastings High School in Bancroft, Ontario.

Everett Smith. Right: Flowers laid on the ground for the child in front of North Hastings High School in Bancroft, Ontario.

An entire town in Ontario is grieving after a toddler died when he was accidentally forgotten and left behind in a hot car outside the school his mom taught at.

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Bancroft mayor and close friend to the family, Paul Jenkins, told Narcity the 23-month-old boy, Everett Smith, was discovered outside North Hastings High School on Thursday.

"The mother, who is a teacher at the high school, basically was taking the younger son to the day care and then dropping him off and then going on to school," Mayor Jenkins told Narcity over the phone.

"With all of the pressures and demands, etcetera, I guess, in her mind, she felt that probably she had done that as a matter of routine, and obviously that did not happen, and the young boy was in the car for most of the day," Jenkins said.

Last week, parts of Ontario went through a heat wave, with the weather in Bancroft reaching a high of 27.1C on Thursday, according to Environment Canada.

As per CTV News Toronto, Everett's grandfather, Wayne Lord, shared with the publication that his daughter had experienced "something stressful" the day before and that dropping her son off at day care wasn't part of her daily routine.

Flowers laid on the ground in front of North Hastings High School in Bancroft for Everett Smith.Flowers laid on the ground in front of North Hastings High School in Bancroft for Everett Smith.Dominic Nadeau | Facebook

Jenkins said there was "a very valiant attempt" by North Hastings High School staff to try and save Everett Smith, but unfortunately, it was unsuccessful.

On Thursday, June 23, Ontario Provincial Police officers were called down to North Hastings High School at around 3:45 p.m. after they received a call that a child was found with no vital signs. According to police, the child was pronounced dead shortly after he was taken to the hospital.

"This is a tragic situation. We are still in the early stages of the investigation, which is in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario," OPP Sgt. Erin Cranton told Narcity via email and added that the provincial police aren't in a position to comment on anything further about why or how this happened.

"Until the investigation is complete, we will not be releasing any further details."

A spokesperson for the school board confirmed to Narcity that they are aware of the tragic event that happened on high school grounds.

"While we are not releasing a statement, what we can confirm is that supports are in place for students and staff, as is our usual process in such situations," communications manager for Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, Kerry Donnell, said in an emailed statement to Narcity.

The high school had put out an announcement on social media the same day the Grade 8 graduation ceremony was postponed due to an emergency that happened and asked that nobody speculate in the comments.

The whole community is grieving

A photograph of Everett Smith in front of the high school.A photograph of Everett Smith in front of the high school.Dominic Nadeau | Facebook

Jenkins said that everybody in the community is in pain right now following Everett Smith's death.

"It's beyond your worst nightmare, and the whole town is in real shock and sort of disbelief, you know, not in a critical way, but just trying to support the family," Jenkins said.

Since Everett's death, flowers have been laid out in front of the high school as a memorial to him.

"The outpouring of support and understanding and compassion from everybody in the community has been a great benefit to [the family]," Jenkins said.

"It doesn't change things, but [...] they know that people are there for them."

A memorial fund has been set up

North Hastings Children's Services put together a memorial fund in partnership with Everett's parents, Diana and Jason Smith.

"This fund will be used to create opportunities for children and families to experience joy in Everett's memory, honouring his legacy," the fund reads.

Everett was the youngest sibling of two kids for the Smiths, according to Jenkins, with his older brother being 5 years old.

"They were a real tight-knit family. They live for their kids, you know, everything was centred around their two boys," Jenkins said.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Alex Arsenych
Toronto Associate Editor