Pub­lic's Sup­port has helped fam­ily deal with death of child


SOUTH BAR — Love and sup­port can make a dif­fer­ence.

Veron­ica Fraser says the pub­lic’s re­sponse has helped her and her fam­ily deal with the death of her seven-year-old autis­tic son James Delorey.

James went miss­ing from his home Dec. 5 and was dis­cov­ered two days later in brush about 1.3 kilo­me­tres away. He was air­lifted to the IWK hospi­tal in Hal­i­fax, but died of hy­pother­mia sev­eral hours later.

“It did help, know­ing peo­ple cared so much. Every­one stopped what­ever they were do­ing that day and came to search — they thought about some­one else — and we are so grate­ful.”

Veron­ica, her hus­band Ja­son Delorey, and chil­dren James and Jesse, 9, were in the process of mov­ing back to Cape Bre­ton from west­ern Canada and were stay­ing with her par­ents Ge­orge and Donna Fraser in South Bar.

The day James went miss­ing Veron­ica had been out­doors with him. He got into her par­ents’ mo­torhome and was sit­ting in the driver’s seat. Af­ter get­ting him out, the mo­torhome slipped out of gear and started rolling.

“I ran over and climbed in while it was rolling to put it in park. When I got out he was gone.”

“I ran over and climbed in while it was rolling to put it in park. When I got out he was gone.”

She thought he had gone to the base­ment. He wasn’t there and she pan­icked. The night be­fore she and James had taken a walk to the brook be­hind the house — he loved the sound of wa­ter. She knew that’s where he had gone.

The fam­ily’s dog Chance was also miss­ing.

She said James would never have fol­lowed the dog.

“Chance would have fol­lowed him. Chance never barked at any­one, but would bark when­ever James went out of the house, warn­ing us.”

She said when an autis­tic child runs, they go miss­ing very quickly.

“ If some­thing catches their at­ten­tion, it can hap­pen so fast. That is why we had locks on all the doors and a sys­tem in place.”

Two days af­ter James went miss­ing Chance re­turned home. The fam­ily knew im­me­di­ately it wasn’t a good sign.

“Chance had his head down. I knew if James was still able to get up, he never would have left him.”

The fam­ily sees Chance as a hero. They be­lieve he kept James warm dur­ing his or­deal.

Fraser said the re­sponse from the pub­lic was over­whelm­ing.

“ There were so many peo­ple, they came from far and be­yond. Peo­ple were drop­ping by with gifts, food and some­one even dropped off a com­puter. Even restau­rants were send­ing things to the hall and a card even came from Africa.”

She said the searchers did the best they could with what they knew.

“ They were all emo­tion­ally in­volved as well. They showed a lot of com­pas­sion af­ter­wards.”

Veron­ica Fraser brushed back tears as she looked at pic­tures of James.

“I still feel James with me. He had a won­der­ful sense of hu­mour, he was al­ways happy and en­joyed life so much. He brought his en­ergy into any room he was in.”

James loved stuffed an­i­mals, es­pe­cially Bert and Ernie, he loved pizza and would pick off the olives and he liked to watch Bridges of Madi­son County. He was a ‘dap­per dresser’ fond of the colour or­ange.

“He loved all plush an­i­mals, any­thing with a face. He liked real shows with lots of action. Af­ter school he would come home and put on his shirt, vest, tie and a cow­boy hat, and pose in the mir­ror.

“He also loved stand­ing out­side and let­ting drips from the roof fall on his hair.”

He also deeply loved his brother.

“He loved play­ing with Jesse — they had a won­der­ful bond.”

Fraser be­lieves her son has made every­one more aware of autism.

“He was a child with a great per­son­al­ity. All chil­dren with autism are dif­fer­ent ... they just have dif­fer­ent chal­lenges. For James, his chal­lenge was com­mu­ni­cat­ing, but he was start­ing to im­prove, he was get­ting ready to talk.”

Sharon Mont­gomery-Dupe - Cape Bre­ton Post

Veron­ica Fraser sits on the steps of her par­ents’ home in South Bar, Fri­day, with dog Chance. Fraser said al­though the fam­ily will never get over the death of her son James (inset), the pub­lic sup­port has helped tremen­dously. James died last De­cem­ber af­ter hav­ing been lost in the woods.

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