Mother charged in death of son swept away in swollen Ontario river

Mother charged in death of son swept away in swollen Ontario river

The mother of a toddler swept into a raging river during flash flooding in Ontario earlier this year has been charged in her son’s death, police said Thursday.

Ontario Provincial Police said they conducted a long and thorough investigation into the death of three-year-old Kaden Young, who drowned in the Grand River near Orangeville, Ont., when torrential rains combined with a late-February thaw caused widespread flooding in the region.

That investigation, they said, prompted the charges against Kaden’s mother, 35-year-old Michelle Hanson of Amaranth, Ont.

She now faces one count each of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, and criminal negligence causing death.

“The OPP sympathizes with and expresses its heartfelt condolences to the family of Kaden Young on his tragic loss,” the force said in a statement announcing the charges. “Police will not comment on specific details of the allegations to protect the integrity of the ensuing court process.”

Police have consistently given the same account of how Kaden was swept away on Feb. 21.

They said the child was riding in his mother’s minivan around 1 a.m. that day when she failed to see a road closure sign and drove onto a dangerous stretch of ground near the river.

At the time, police said the vehicle was swept into the swollen waterway.

They said Hanson managed to pull Kaden from the vehicle only to lose her grip on him and see him carried off by the rushing water.

In the following weeks, hundreds of volunteers flocked to the site to help search for Kaden. A Facebook group dedicated to the search sometimes received posts from Hanson, including eventual confirmation that her son’s body had been found.

On April 21, a fisherman pulled Kaden’s body from the river 13 kilometres downstream from where he initially went missing.

“It has been a long, extremely draining two months of searching and now has finally come to an end,” Hanson wrote on Facebook at the time. “The amount of support was absolutely incredible, and we really can’t thank everyone enough.”

Police said Hanson is due to appear in court on Nov. 6 in Orangeville.

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

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