Ont. boy drowned, no foul play suspected: police
Meredith MacLeod and Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, August 8, 2016 9:27AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 8, 2016 4:14PM EDT
Police in Hamilton, Ont., say they do not suspect any foul play in the death of an 11-year-old boy whose body was found in a culvert 35 minutes after an Amber Alert was issued Sunday.
Hamilton Police acting Det. Sgt. Dave Brady said Finnigan Danne, who had a neuromuscular condition and walked with a limp, died by drowning soon after wandering off from his Dundas, Ont., home on Saturday morning.
Brady told reporters Monday afternoon that there is no evidence of criminality, “just a tragedy.”
“He left the home without his mother being aware,” the detective said. “And how he ended up in the culvert? It would seem that he probably crawled in there, as a young boy who likes to hide or whatever.”
Staff Sgt. Marty Schulenberg, who was helping lead the search, said a police officer found the boy’s body Sunday afternoon after a tip from a citizen. He described the culvert as about four or five feet in diameter, with two to three feet of water.
The area had been searched the night before, but with flashlights and in darkness, according to Schulenberg. He suggested the body was initially missed due to “a combination of the depth of the water and the location.”
"The visibility is very poor, even with flashlights," he added. "Even when Finnigan was located, it was difficult to determine, at first, whether or not we had located his body."
Brady said the Amber Alert wasn’t issued until more than a day after the boy was reported missing, in part because the boy had previously wandered off and hidden himself, and they expected he may be found in the neighbourhood.
Hundreds of volunteers had joined police to search streets, woods and creeks for Finnigan. Searchers said they pored over the area where he was eventually found a couple of times, but there was no sign of the boy.
“I’m stunned because it was a really extensive search,” said volunteer Moira Leggate. She said she watched police on horseback search the very street where Finnigan was eventually found. There were also police searching on ATVs and with dogs.
“We didn’t leave anything unturned in this neighbourhood and like a five- to 10-mile radius,” Leggate added. “I mean we were everywhere today. I was in the creek… We didn’t leave anything open so there is no way that I can believe he was found right there on Sullivans Lane.”
Another volunteer echoed that sentiment.
“I’m pretty shocked that so many people could have been searching the area and then missed,” a woman told CP24.
“There were hundreds and hundreds of people, like I don’t understand how he just showed up,” said another woman, who said her sister searched the area where the body was found.
The hunt for Finnigan ended with someone screaming, “I need help, I need help.”
A man identified by neighbours as Finnigan’s father rushed to the location. As police cordoned off the area, searchers and spectators waited, hoping for the possibility of good news.
But shortly after 6 p.m. on Sunday, police issued a statement that said they were “deeply saddened” to confirm the boy was dead.
Volunteers and neighbours, many visibly distraught, lit candles outside the boy’s home Sunday night.
A GoFundMe page set up for Finnigan's family aims to raise $50,000. It says the family had to rebuild their lives after a fire destroyed their home a few years ago.
A candlelight vigil is planned for Tuesday night.
With files from CTV Toronto, CP24 and The Canadian Press