Death of 2-year-old Summerside, P.E.I., boy ruled accidental

·2 min read
This photo of Knox Beairsto-Whitlock was posted by organizers of a vigil planned for this weekend to mark the first anniversary of the Summerside boy's death.  (Facebook - image credit)
This photo of Knox Beairsto-Whitlock was posted by organizers of a vigil planned for this weekend to mark the first anniversary of the Summerside boy's death. (Facebook - image credit)

The August 2020 death of a two-year-old boy from Summerside, P.E.I., has been ruled accidental by the Nova Scotia Chief Medical Examiner Service.

A news release Thursday morning said there will be no criminal charges in Knox Beairsto-Whitlock's death, citing the opinion of the medical examiner and consultation with the Crown prosecutor's office following a police investigation.

On Aug. 18 of last year, Summerside police were notified that the toddler was in a Halifax hospital with life-threatening injuries that were described as possibly being "not natural," the release said.

Police investigated and learned that Knox had suffered a fall at home two days before — on Aug. 16 — but appeared to be uninjured and acted normally after the fall, Thursday's news release said.

The next morning, the release said, the boy was found to be unresponsive.

Paramedics transported Knox to hospital in Summerside and he was then airlifted to Halifax, where he later died of his injuries.

'Unfortunate tragedy'

"An investigation of this nature had many, many facets to it. And the police were thorough," said John Diamond, P.E.I.'s director of prosecutions. "And we were waiting on the final piece, which was the autopsy report."

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

That report was completed in mid-July, with Dr. Matthew Bowes finding Knox died of blunt force trauma to the head, with the manner of death determined to be accidental.

"With a toddler of that age, they're active, they can fall and they can take tumbles any number of different ways. And this is just an unfortunate tragedy," Diamond said.

Diamond said that from his office's perspective, the investigation is over.

"As with everything, if new information was to come to light, of course, the investigation could be reopened," he said.

"But at this point, the investigation is complete, it's thorough and the findings of the pathologist were pretty clear. So it doesn't provide much more to be looked at."

Kirk Pennell/CBC
Kirk Pennell/CBC

The two-year-old's death sparked an outpouring of grief in Summerside.

A vigil was held in the western P.E.I. city following news of Knox's death and a makeshift memorial constructed with stuffed animals and other toys.

Organizers are planning another memorial for Aug. 21 to mark one year since his death.

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