St. Joachim Separate School

School community unites around family devastated by crash

By 
  • September 29, 2015

VAUGHAN, ONT. - The St. Joachim Separate School community is coming together to console each other after two of its students were among four family members killed in a traffic collision Sept. 27.

Daniel Neville-Lake and his five-year-old brother Harry, students at St. Joachim, died when a SUV collided with the minivan in which the brothers were passengers. Their younger sister Millie, two, and the children's 65-year-old grandfather Gary Neville also died in the crash.

The children's grandmother and great grandmother were also in the minivan at the time of the accident but survived.

“The school community and the parish, which is part of the school community, will come together and support both the families and each other because that is what Christian communities do,” said John Kostoff, director of education for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. “It is the gift of Catholic education that we can address this tragedy through the eyes of faith.”

Students arrived at St. Joachim on Sept. 28 to find the Canadian flag flying at half mast. They were later sent home with a letter informing parents about the tragedy.

“We are saddened to learn of the deaths of two of our St. Joachim students,” reads the letter signed by school principal Maria DiNunzio. “This news has been difficult for some of our students and we have arranged for trained counsellors to be available at the school to help students with their feelings.”

Many students placed items at the memorial outside of the Neville-Lake family home which is a short walk from the school.

Two Masses were held at the school on Sept. 29 “to celebrate the lives of the students and to remember their lives,” said Kostoff.

“It's at times like this that our faith community helps us make sense of the nonsensical,” he said.

About 250 people attended each Mass, said Fr. James Cherickal, pastor at St. Anne's parish in Brampton, which includes St. Joachim's school.
Cherickal said he stayed with the grieving parents between Masses.

"When I go as a pastor my role is be there with them in their and pain and in their loss," he said. "It is a very difficult time for them."

Jennifer Neville-Lake, mother of the three deceased children, spoke to media the day after the accident.

“It's the worst nightmare,” said the grieving mother who found out about the accident from news reports. “It just doesn't seem quite real yet. I can't believe they're never coming back.”

Marco Muzzo, 29, faces 18 charges in connection with the crash, including four counts of impaired driving causing death. He appeared in a Newmarket Ont., court on Sept. 28 and was to re-appear in court on Oct. 2.

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