Ontario mother pleads guilty in death of 3-year-old son swept into Grand River
The mother of an Ontario boy who died after he was swept into the Grand River in Ontario in 2018 has pleaded guilty in his death.
On Tuesday morning Michelle Hanson appeared via video in court where she pleaded guilty to criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
Her son, three-year-old Kaden Young, died in February 2018 when the minivan she was driving went through a road closed sign and into the Grand River during a period of heavy flooding. His body was recovered two months later, on April 21, 2018. Hanson was charged in October of 2018.
Court heard Tuesday that Hanson took Kaden out for a drive because he was having trouble sleeping. Minutes after leaving their home, Hanson drove around a road closure into a flooded section of 10th Line in Amaranth.
The van she was driving was swept into the Grand River. Court heard that Hanson was able to remove Kaden from his car seat, but lost her grip on him in the water.
Hanson's lawyer, Hal Mattson, said she is currently in counselling.
"Michelle Hanson, when this unfortunate incident happened, is a completely different Michelle Hanson than we're dealing with today," Mattson said. "In that time period she had some ups and downs, but it would look like, for the last year and a half, she's basically got her act together. By that I mean, she's on the road to recovery. It's almost an impossible hurdle to get over if you're somehow responsible for your child dying, but I think she's getting there."
An agreed statement of facts presented in court on Tuesday said alcohol and therapeutic amounts of oxycodone were found in Hanson's blood and she was suffering from hypothermia when she was found along the banks of the river.
The Crown noted a toxicologist was unable to provide evidence of impairment.
Mattson said Hanson wants to have a life after this and see her other two children.
"Obviously, because of the situation, she's going to have to work towards that," Mattson said.
Mattson said Hanson provides a urine sample every week and has been "clean for a long period of time."
The trial was delayed several times due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Hanson is currently living in Newfoundland with family, which Mattson said provided her with a more stable environment.
Hanson was emotional during her court appearance on Tuesday, and Mattson said he hopes the judge will take that into consideration when sentencing Hanson.
Mattson added he's also hoping the judge will consider Hanson's willingness to take responsibility for Kaden's death into account.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2022.
With reporting by CTV Kitchener's Heather Senoran