Early this morning a 3-year-old boy went missing from his home in Toronto.
Elijah was captured on his apartment building’s security cameras stepping out into the bitter cold at 4:20 a.m. He appeared to be on his own, wearing only a t-shirt, diaper and boots. His family discovered he was missing when they woke three hours later.
He was found shortly after 10 a.m. only a few hundreds metres from his apartment and was taken to hospital in life threatening condition.
Poor, poor baby. Why did he wake and decide to wander? Was he sleepwalking? Some children do. I did. My son had terrible night terrors as a toddler. Whatever the reason, it’s a horrible tragedy.
This story has struck a chord with parents everywhere—our collective parental hearts go out to this family. Life will never be the same for them again.
It also resonates with our family personally—as parents of a child with special needs who has a significant history of wandering off, silently, Elijah represents a legitimate fear for many special needs parents.
When our daughter gained the ability to open doors, we immediately installed door alarms that chime when any door in our house is opened. We also put a hook latch high up on our front door, a pin latch at the top of our sliding door, and child proof knobs over all the door handles.
I remember feeling embarrassed and guilty about it at the time—like I was over-reacting by locking our daughter in. I know now that it was necessary. It still is.
I am absolutely not insinuating that Elijah’s family were at fault in any way. Their toddler waking and leaving his home before dawn is unthinkable. What could possibly have been going on in his little head to make him get up from his warm bed and go out into the cold, we’ll never know.
There is so much heartache here. But this is also a sad, but apt opportunity for our families to re-asses the safety and security of their own homes—to hopefully prevent a similar tragedy like this from occurring in the future.
My family’s thoughts are with little Elijah and his family.
*Sadly, since publishing this story earlier today, Elijah has died in hospital.