The church in Laval, Que., is holding a special service for children killed in a daycare bus accident
A mountain of stuffed animals and bouquets of flowers lined the altar of a church in Laval, Que., where a special service was held Friday morning in honor of the two children who were killed Wednesday when a city bus rammed into their daycare.
The mood was somber as members of the grieving Sainte-Rose congregation crowded into the Sainte-Rose-de-Lima Catholic Church.
Mia Merolla stopped to add flowers to the makeshift memorial that had grown outside the church in the days after the crash.
“I feel extreme sadness for the parents,” Merolla said. “It goes without saying for everyone. You send your children to school, you send your children to kindergarten, you pick them up at the end of the working day.”
The identity of one of the crash victims was revealed on Friday afternoon. He is four and a half year old Jacob Gauthier.
His funeral will take place next Wednesday at 11am at the Sainte-Rose-de-Lima church. The identity of the second victim is currently unknown.
CLOCK | The young victim’s family shares their pain:
Candles were lit in the church for the dead and injured in the crash. Mourners filled the pews, leaving some people at the back.
Father Michel Bouchard, who presided over the Mass, paid tribute to the families affected by the tragedy, saying it “tested us profoundly”.
“It is an enormous suffering, an agony,” he said, adding that what happened “must not extinguish our hope”.
Bouchard told CBC News that he will also be the one to conduct the funeral rites for Jacob next week – something he said will be difficult.
“Because it was me who baptized that little boy … and three years later he’s dead. The only thing I can do is offer him to God,” he said.
Bouchard said there was no way to explain what happened but he could help bring the community together.
“The only thing I can do as a believer and a priest is to pray, to tell people that we are together and together we can make a difference,” he said.
Elias Karam, a father who was present at the service, said he came out with his wife to pray for the families.
“We felt for them … the trauma is great and we are so sad,” he said.
Quebecers have gathered near the Garderie Éducative de Sainte-Rose in the days following the crash. Similar to inside and outside the church, a makeshift memorial has grown near the scene of the tragedy.
Earlier this week, two children died and six others were injured when a Laval transit driver pulled a bus in front of the daycare.
Pierre Ny St-Amand, a 51-year-old employee of Société de transport de Laval (STL), was arrested at the scene and later charged with two counts of first-degree murder and seven other charges, including attempted murder and aggravated assault.
His next court appearance is scheduled for February 17.