Teen who died trying to save a mother and son at Woodbine Beach remembered as a hero

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Teen who died trying to save a mother and son at Woodbine Beach remembered as a hero

A teenage boy who died after trying to save a mother and child at a Toronto beach last week is being hailed as a hero by those who knew him. 

Kyle Howard-Muthulingam, 16, was identified by police on Wednesday. 

"I'm glad that this place can know him as a hero, because he truly was," his cousin Abanaya (Abby) Lingam told reporters outside her school. 

She described him as energetic and gregarious. 

Howard-Muthulingam's best friend, Christian Markland, said he always thought the "hero" label suited him.

He said his friend "died the way he lived — fearlessly." 

"I remember when it was my birthday and I really wanted this book, he didn't buy lunch so he could save money and buy me that book," Markland told CBC Toronto. 

"It really made me feel special."

The pair attended Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts in Scarborough. Howard-Muthulingam was in Grade 11, the Toronto District School Board said. 

"He was part of the performing arts program at Wexford, and he was very, very well liked by his fellow students and staff and he was known as a brilliant dancer and performer," said Shari Schwartz-Maltz, a TDSB spokesperson. 

His former school opened Wednesday for classmates and teachers to come together and mourn. As those who knew Howard-Muthulingam shared stories and hugs inside, the flag flew at half-mast outside.

Theatre teacher Ann Merriam described him as every educators dream student.

"A gentle soul, a team player, it was never about him, it was about what's best for the scene," she recalled.

Social workers were on site in case anyone required counselling, Schwartz-Maltz said. 

Howard-Muthulingam was pulled under the water's surface at Woodbine Beach in the city's east end on Friday afternoon when he jumped into Lake Ontario to try to help a mother and son who were crying for help. In total, five people, including Howard-Muthulingam, were pulled from the lake. 

He was taken to hospital, where he later died.

The rescue involved members of the Toronto police, Toronto fire, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Air Force. 

Correction : An earlier version of this story stated Kyle Howard-Muthulingam was 17. The TDSB later confirmed he was, in fact, 16 years old.(Aug 15, 2018 10:30 AM)