A Happy Girl Called “Sunshine” Is Being Remembered as the Investigation Continues Into the Day Care Death North of Cobourg

In Editor Choice, Local

Photo credit GoFundMe and Watch Me Grow Facebook

A well is the focus of an investigation regarding a young child’s death at a day care centre north of Cobourg that happened on Thursday, May 25, 2023.

Emergency services respond to the Watch Me Grow Daycare Centre on County Road 45, just south of Baltimore shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Thursday after a 20-month-old girl went missing.

A frantic search by emergency services, daycare workers, neighbours and strangers was immediately commenced searching around the property.

The child was located deceased in a well.

Northumberland OPP Crime Unit are leading the investigation along with Central Region Forensic Identification Services under the direction of the OPP’s Criminal Investigation Brand and in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario.

A GoFundMe has identified the two-year-old as Vienna Irwin.

“Vienna passed away and gained her angel wings in a way parents only think about in their worst nightmares,” posted the GoFundMe organizer Ericka Stapleton.

“She was the most beautiful and sweetest little girl and in her short time here on earth touched so many. This tragic and sudden loss has rocked the Irwin family and everyone in our small community.”

On Friday, police tape cordoned off the area of the tragedy including the playground.

Throughout the day, numerous people stopped by to place flowers.

Kayla McBride’s has two children, aged two and five that attended the daycare. Her oldest started school this September, but Kane (age 2) was in Vienna’s class and was good friends with her.

On Friday, McBride dropped off flowers, a teddy bear and both her children drew pictures that were placed among other flowers at the growing memorial.

McBride was going by the daycare early Thursday, so she picked up Kane on her way home to Grafton. While they were having supper on Thursday, the news broke a girl was missing from the daycare.

When she dropped off or picked up her son, she would regularly see her son and Vienna playing together.

“She was like sunshine. She was always smiling. She was always happy.”

“Right now the community needs to come together, support one another – show love.”

McBride said on the night of the tragedy she tried to explain as best she could to him what happened.

“He doesn’t understand. I held him a lot closer last night. I just realized you can’t take anything for granted.”

The well where the child was found has a green lid on it and is in an area where a slide and other playground equipment are situated.

“A little green slide is right beside where it is. And you’ll see a little green lid right there.”

“I don’t know if they jump on it. It’s not blocked off, it’s right in their area – right where they are playing.”

McBride identified photos of the green cover in photos from the daycare website.

Chris Hamilton is a father of two from Baltimore who also placed flowers at the corner of the property.

Like many arriving, Hamilton didn’t know Vienna.

“I could not imagine this happen to anybody – it’s unreal.”

A neighbour who lives across the road dropped off flowers.

“I didn’t sleep last night – I have a niece that age.”

On a website titled kidsprograms.ca it stated that Watch Me Grow Daycare was first issued a child care license on November 15, 2011 with a 94% compliance level.

They have had five inspections since then with the latest being on October 2015.

The child care capacity at the facility was 27 up to the age of six-years-old.

There is a capacity of 10 children between the ages of 1.5 to 2.5 years-old.


Update: Under the Ministry of Education it states, Watch Me Grow Daycare was inspected on February 1, 2023 and the inspection found that there were eight requirements not met at the time of the inspection, but were resolved.

The facility was also inspected on February 25, 2022, February 11, 2021 and June 9, 2020.

It also stated, “This licence is temporarily closed effective May 26, 2023. The licensee shall advise the program advisor by email prior to the program reopening.”


The GoFundMe link

Fundraiser for Claire Irwin by Ericka Stapleton : Support For The Tragic Loss Of Vienna Irwin (gofundme.com)

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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