Elijah Marsh, a Toronto boy who wandered out into the Toronto cold, died after being taken to hospital in life-threatening condition on Thursday.
Toronto police confirmed the boy's death in a tweet:
"I think we all will grieve for that child and for the family," Chief of Police Bill Blair added on Thursday afternoon.
Elijah's grandmother sobbed and hugged friends as she left her apartment Thursday afternoon.
"No, no, no," was all she could say through tears.
Her long-time friend and neighbour, Millie Dyer, said the family was distraught.
"He's very energetic and runs around all over the place," Dyer said moments 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.
Elijah Marsh's family had put him to bed Wednesday night, and woke to find him gone around 7:30 a.m. The boy left his home wearing a t-shirt and diapers. Toronto is in the middle of an extreme cold alert and temperatures last night dipped well below -20 C.
He was found around 10:15 a.m., just 300 metres from the north Toronto apartment where he was living, according to CTV. Police told the public in a news conference Thursday morning that volunteers found him first, and that police were right behind them.
Surveillance camera footage shows a boy resembling Elijah leaving an apartment building in the Allen Road and Highway 401 area around 4:05 a.m., according to CP24.
URGENT: Neighbours near Neptune Drive, please check under/in your cars for Elijah, 3, BEFORE you drive off!!! http://t.co/79Naw4IDuD ^vk— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) February 19, 2015
The boy's disappearance sparked a massive search that saw the police deploying units on horseback and a helicopter. Volunteers also helped search for Elijah.
Pratatban Thurairajah, from the city's west end, was one of volunteers who helped search for the boy after hearing about the incident on the radio.
"I decided to come down to look for him, trying to find him," Thurairajah said. "I wanted to find the boy — trying to do my part."
UPDATE: Elijah's last name is spelled Marsh, not March, as was previously reported.
With files from The Canadian Press
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