Mother of baby who died accidentally issues plea to be left in peace

·2 min read
Elysha Whitlock, the mother of Knox Beairsto-Whitlock, says some in the community have blamed members of the family for the boy's death and have been harassing them.  (Facebook - image credit)
Elysha Whitlock, the mother of Knox Beairsto-Whitlock, says some in the community have blamed members of the family for the boy's death and have been harassing them. (Facebook - image credit)

The mother of Knox Beairsto-Whitlock, the two-year-old Summerside boy who died last August, released a statement through her lawyer on Friday afternoon, issuing a plea for the family to be left in peace to grieve.

In August 2020, Summerside police were notified Knox was in a Halifax hospital with life-threatening injuries that might be "not natural," police said in a release Thursday. He died a few days afterward, with Nova Scotia chief medical examiner Dr. Matthew Bowes eventually concluding in an autopsy report that the medical cause was blunt force trauma to the head, with the manner of death considered accidental.

That means there will be no criminal charges in the baby's death, police said this week.

"Our loss is immeasurable. We are still struggling to make sense of it and find acceptance," the statement from the boy's mother, Elysha Whitlock, reads in part.

"In our shock, disbelief, and immense grief, we needed care and compassion. Instead, upon returning from the IWK to this Gentle Island, we were subjected to hate, harassment, and persecution from a group that formed before our son had even died," it continues.

'Extensive harassment'

Whitlock said she and other relatives have faced "extensive harassment and vitriol from some members of the community," including Facebook groups dedicated to following them, posting their pictures, arranging protests and "encouraging other members of the community to join in, all with the aim of accusing our family of causing Knox's death."

She said the family is now asking to be left in peace to grieve and heal.

Whitlock also told CBC's Brian Higgins on Friday that she is thinking of taking legal action over what she calls defamatory statements made about her.

A public gathering organized by community members last year is one example of the actions Whitlock is talking about.

It's just so wrong. Nobody can understand how they arrived at this decision. — Ken Smith

There's another vigil planned this weekend, starting at noon Saturday in front of the Summerside courthouse.

One of the organizers, Ken Smith, told CBC News on Thursday that he is disappointed in the police findings.

"For them to declare it accidental and 'case closed' — it is just so wrong. It's just so wrong," he said. "Nobody can understand how they arrived at this decision."

Meanwhile, P.E.I.'s child and youth advocate is in the process of a separate review into the death.

Marvin Bernstein says any formal investigation launched by his office wouldn't focus on legal responsibility, but rather preventing such incidents from happening in the future.

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