5-year-old killed in Dartmouth crash remembered as promising Beaver Scout

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Five-year-old Max Thomas had recently received his first three Beaver Scout badges. (Leah Oickle/Facebook - image credit)
Five-year-old Max Thomas had recently received his first three Beaver Scout badges. (Leah Oickle/Facebook - image credit)

Max Thomas lived a short life, but he left a big impression.

The five-year-old died after a two-vehicle collision in Dartmouth on Friday afternoon. Max was in the car with a female driver, who also suffered serious injuries.

The next day, some of the friends and mentors Max had met through Scouts Canada started building a memorial. The floating flagpole was built at the entrance to Portland Estates, the neighbourhood where Max lived.

"He was very inquisitive, very smart, and was always up for whatever program or whatever challenge we would put together for [the Beaver Scouts]," said Wayne Hall, assistant group commissioner of the Portland Estates Scouts.

Wayne Hall and other Scout members built a "floating flagpole" with the flag at half mast as a temporary memorial to 5-year-old Max Thomas.
Wayne Hall and other Scout members built a "floating flagpole" with the flag at half mast as a temporary memorial to 5-year-old Max Thomas.(Robert Guertin/CBC)

The floating flagpole, made of five logs lashed together, is a skill taught to older Scouts so it's something Max wouldn't have learned to do yet, Hall said.

In the past few days, Hall said he's been thinking about the many things Max will never get to do, like the camping and hiking trips that were curtailed because of the pandemic.

"That's one of the biggest sorrows that we have, is the adventures that Max will never get to live," said Hall.

"[His death] drives home every day how precious life is," said Hall.

Stuffed animals, flowers and candles have piled up around the floating flagpole memorial at the entrance to Portland Estates.
Stuffed animals, flowers and candles have piled up around the floating flagpole memorial at the entrance to Portland Estates.(Robert Guertin/CBC)

The flagpole memorial, with a Canadian flag at half-mast, is one of several tributes to Max. Hall said several hundred people participated in a vigil by putting candles in their windows on Monday night. A Gofundme campaign has also been launched for Max's parents, which has raised nearly $38,000 as of Tuesday evening.

The Gofundme page describes Max as having an infectious smile and laugh.

"His love of the outdoors, dinosaurs and playing with his best bud Mathew will be his lasting legacy."

Paul Johnson, a Beaver Scout leader who worked closely with Max since he joined the program last year, said the group's weekly virtual meeting would largely be dedicated to the boy's memory this week.

To prepare for the tribute, Johnson said he'd been reviewing all the activities Max had participated in. He'd recently earned three badges: winter skills 1, trail skills 1 and emergency skills 1.

"It struck me that they're all level one badges. He was just getting started, in so many ways," Johnson said.

Hall said the floating flagpole will be temporary, but Scout leaders are hoping to find some other way to pay tribute to Max in the long-term.

"Max is always going to be remembered and it's always going to be, you know, what good Max has done," Hall said.

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