A three-year-old boy has died after he apparently wandered outside in the extreme cold and was found without a pulse, near Bathurst Street and Highway 401, on Thursday.
The toddler, named Elijah, went missing from an apartment building on Neptune Drive, near Allen Road and the 401. He was found tucked in a corner behind a house around 10 a.m., about six hours after he was captured on the building’s surveillance footage.
Paramedics said they took Elijah to North York General Hospital in critical condition.
— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) February 19, 2015
The incident happened with the GTA under an extreme cold warning by Environment Canada and the wind chill near -30 C on Thursday morning.
The mounted unit, police officers and York Region’s police helicopter were involved in the search. Police also asked people to check their backyards, hallways and stairwells.
Neighbours hugged each other and wept as the boy was loaded into an ambulance.
Millie Dyer, a long-time friend and neighbour of Elijah’s grandmother, said the family was distraught.
“He’s very energetic and runs around all over the place,” Dyer said just before hearing of the boy’s death.
“He’s a very smart little boy.”
Dyer said Elijah, whom she called “sweet,” was over at his grandmother’s place all the time and has two aunts who also live in the same apartment complex.
“When his mom has to work, Elijah is here. And he goes to daycare just down the street,” Dyer said.
Mayor John Tory offered his sympathy at a news conference on Thursday.
“As a father and a grandfather, you just can’t imagine what that family is going through, dealing with this,” he said.
Police said the last time Elijah was seen by his family was when he went to bed at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday night.
Const. Victor Kwong said family called police at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday after they woke up to find the child gone and the front door open.
Police said he likely left the apartment on his own.
“At about 4:20 a.m. this morning, it appears he was seen on camera, surveillance from the building, and it appears as though he has just wandered,” Kwong said.
Kwong said when the boy went to bed, he was wearing only a T-shirt and diapers. He had put on his boots before leaving the apartment.
Kwong said Elijah was staying at a relative’s home.
See the 300-metre route he took below. For a mobile-friendly link to the map, click here.
To see a mobile-friendly link to a security footage photo of Elijah leaving his grandmother’s apartment building, click here.
With files from The Canadian Press