VAUGHAN, Ont. – A 29-year-old man was charged Monday with a dozen impaired-driving offences after three young children and their grandfather died following a three-car crash north of Toronto.
York Regional Police said a 65-year-old man and three children, including a two-year-old girl and two boys aged 5 and 9, died after the crash that occurred Sunday afternoon in Vaughan, Ont.
Two of the children were students at St. Joachim Elementary School in Brampton, Ont., a spokesman for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board said.
Daniel Neville-Lake was in Grade 4 while his brother Harrison was in senior kindergarten, Bruce Campbell said. A letter to be sent home with students identified the boys’ sister as Millie Neville-Lake.
Grief counsellors are at the school and Tuesday’s mass will be dedicated to the siblings, Campbell said. A memory table has also been set up in the foyer for students to share their feelings and recollections, he said.
“It’s obviously a shock,” he said.
Vaughan Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Bentley said the 65-year-old man was the children’s grandfather.
He said firefighters and paramedics tried to resuscitate the children when they got to the scene of the crash.
“Our hearts go out to the family,” Bentley said. “It is a pretty traumatic event for everyone, including our staff, but we’ve brought in a peer-support system because they’ve had a tough day.”
Police said all four were travelling in the same vehicle along with two other women who suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries, when their car was struck by another car.
“I understand that a vehicle failed to stop and T-boned the van with the family,” Bentley said.
A third vehicle was also involved in the crash but its two occupants were not injured.
Marco Muzzo, 29, of King Township, Ont., has been charged with 12 impaired-related charges, including four counts of impaired driving causing death. He also faces six charges related to the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
He appeared briefly in a Newmarket, Ont., court on Monday and is being held pending a bail hearing later this week.
Muzzo’s lawyer Rudy Covre would only say that his client is struggling.
“I’m sure you can appreciate that this is a very tough time for him,” he said outside the courthouse after the hearing.
“It’s a difficult period in his life right now. We’re going to have to get through it.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of people moved by the tragedy sought to help the family by donating to an online fundraiser in their name. By just after noon Monday, more than $45,000 had been raised through the GoFundMe campaign.
Many expressed their condolences on the site.
“Such a sad story. I taught one of the boys a few years back in daycare and can’t imagine this happening to such a wonderful, loving family,” one woman wrote.
“I pray that this family can deal with this most horrific event. The loss of your father and all three of your children is absolutely heart-wrenching. My condolences xo,” said another.
— By Liam Casey and Paola Loriggio in Toronto.