Mother of 3 children killed in Vaughan crash thanks supporters for ‘outpouring of love’
WATCH ABOVE: The mother of three children killed in a collision with their grandfather in Vaughan has spoken out about how the family is coping throughout their painful ordeal. Jennifer Neville-Lake says the support from the community and around the globe has helped her and her husband cope during the tragic events. Lama Nicolas has the story.
TORONTO — The mother of three children killed following a three-vehicle crash in Vaughan on Sunday says she is grateful for the “outpouring of love across the globe.”
“Thank you very much for walking with us on this journey and standing with us … it is so incredibly moving to know that we have a legion of people behind us in our journey and as painful as this pathway is I am so grateful that we are not alone,” said Jennifer Neville-Lake.
“They woke up with smiles. Even if they went to bed, they never went to bed angry. They made a point of saying to each other, ‘I love you.’ There was always lots of ‘I love yous.'”
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Nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harry and sister Milly, aged two, were killed after the mini-van they were traveling in was struck by another vehicle at the intersection of Kipling Avenue and Kirby Road at 4:10 p.m ET northeast of Kleinburg in Vaughan.
The children’s grandfather was pronounced dead at the scene while their grandmother and great-grandmother remain in hospital with serious injuries.
She said the children had learned to be loving from their 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville, who also perished in the collision.
WATCH: Daniel Neville-Lake, his brother Harry and sister Milly were killed along with their 65-year-old grandfather Gary Neville on Sunday afternoon by an alleged drunk driver. Marianne Dimain reports.
“He was a very gentle man and he was very diplomatic and he taught us that if you’re upset or if you’re angry then that’s fine but … you have to just try to be, even though it’s really, really, really hurting you, you just have to be as positive as you can,” she said.
“I want them to remember how wonderful they were and how not just our world, but so many other worlds according to all of the outpouring of love across the globe, how it’s so much darker now because they’re not here.”
Neville-Lake said she is haunted by the memory of being told by doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto that the children had died from their injuries on Sunday.
“We were sitting down and I knew by the way they were not saying anything that there was something to tell us — and that keeps replaying in my mind,” she said.
“The minute the doctor told us that there was no hope, that moment keeps coming, that’s been waking us out of any sleep we get, been waking me up screaming at night.”
Classmates and staff at St. Joachim Elementary School in Brampton, Ont. gathered for a mass Tuesday morning to remember the lives of the children.
“It is painful to go through that loss and [the family] are grateful for the community’s love and prayer,” said Rev. James Cherickal of St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church in Brampton, who led a memorial service at the school.
“We pray that the family and everyone that is affected by this great tragedy may come through this.”
Cherickal said the experience was painful for the family, but they were being comforted by the outpouring of love and prayer from the community.
“I don’t know if all of the children in the school are fully aware of the tragedy, the effects of it, but they were quite silent in the mass so they’re very much affected by it, taken over by it,” he said.
“Sometimes we go through these difficult moments journeying with them, being with them during this difficult moment. Words cannot explain these tragedies.”
READ MORE: 3 children among 4 killed after multi-vehicle collision in Vaughan
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board spokesperson Nancy Marshall said religious faith was helping both students and the families get through the tragedy.
“It really helps being a Catholic school community. We all rely on our faith to bring us together and help support each other through these hard times,” said Marshall.
“In addition to the masses, we have a tragic events response team on site for a few more days as needed.”
Marco Muzzo, 29, has been charged with a dozen impaired-driving offences and appeared briefly in court on Monday.
VIDEO: The accused in an alleged impaired driving-related collision that left a man and three children dead comes from a wealthy Ontario construction family. Mark Carcasole reports.
“It truly can hit home. It’s a nightmare,” said parent Maria Deans, whose son Marique was Daniel’s friend in Grade 2.
“It’s a choice that this gentleman made, that was unbearable. My heart goes out to the mom and dad.”
Deans said she had a hard time explaining the deaths to his son last night.
“Last night, he said his prayer before he went to bed and he said, ‘I want to pray for my friend Daniel and his family.’,” she said.
READ MORE: Marco Muzzo, alleged drunk driver in fatal Vaughan crash, had 7 non-criminal offences
An online fundraising campaign set up for the family has since raised over $150,000 in just two days.
Meanwhile, the Muzzo family released a brief statement Tuesday following the appearance of Marco Muzzo in court on Monday.
“We are all greatly saddened by yesterday’s tragedy and express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Neville, Lake and Frias families,” wrote Dawn Muzzo, Marco’s mother.
“We would ask for the cooperation of the media in respecting the privacy of our family during this very difficult time.”