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Police still haven’t released many details. They haven’t said what led to the deaths of an entire family — mom, dad, adolescent girl and young boy. The Ontario Provincial Police West Region will only say the bodies are being examined by the coroner in London. And that there will be more details in the coming days. 

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Lindsay DePano addresses the people who gathered at the soccer field. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

But everyone at the soccer field knew the victims’ names. Especially friends like Upcott, Victoria Cranston and Essex mayor Sherry Bondy, who organized the vigil.

Upcott says the mom was involved at the Catholic school her kids attended, and with youth soccer, and various other causes. She touched thousands, she said, adding the townspeople walking the track was a fitting tribute. 

“She loved the sun,” Upcott said. “She loved to walk. Man, she loved to walk.

“They were a family unit. A solid family unit … This is the outpour of love for them, and this is just the beginning.”

The vigil was so well attended that people formed a long line to enter through the chain-link fence to the soccer complex. There, victims services workers were on hand to help. Volunteers collected donations for funeral costs. Family members of the victims were also there, but they stayed quiet and away from the media cameras.

People walk the track in the dusk
Hundreds walked the roughly one-kilometre track to remember the family. (Mike Evans/CBC)

Lindsay DePano, a close friend of the mom’s, broke down in tears as she spoke.

“I’m not ready to talk yet about what a wonderful person I got to grow up with,” she said.

“There are no words that can describe this tragedy to make anyone feel better. We are all feeling sad, numb and confused.”

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But at the vigil, she said, “I am witnessing something that is magical, beautiful and incredibly strong. The love of the community is empowering and overwhelming.”

Three women wearing Light Up the Park T-shirts
From left to right Victoria Cranston, Sherry Bondy and Treena Upcott, who all knew the family, organized the vigil. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Some of the most poignant comments came from friends of the kids.

“I was a social outcast most of my life,” one girl said. “[The daughter] didn’t have to be nice to me. She chose to.

“Most of my feelings are sadness and anger. They’re big and I can’t control them.”

Another girl said she ice skated with the daughter.

“I wish she could have made it to graduation,” she said.

Stuffed animals along a chain link fence
People left stuffed animals along a fence. (Mike Evans/CBC)

“I wish she could have made it to high school. I wish she would have the best years there. I wish she could have made it to her dream college and had the amazing friends she deserved.

“I wish she could have travelled everywhere she ever wanted.”

Upcott, a manicurist, says she still remembers how many times she did the mom’s nails — 273 times in 12 years. 

“She was so loved,” she said.

Bondy, the Essex mayor, told the crowd that people have a lot of questions. There will be answers, she said, in time.

Right now, she said, “it’s all so soon.”



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