Son’s death ‘parent’s worst nightmare’
Dalton Beamish loved baseball and he was looking forward to attending Mohawk College this fall.
Tragically, there will be no more overpowering fastballs and sneaky curveballs from the lanky right-handed pitcher, and no chance at higher learning for the 19year-old.
The affable Burlington teen’s life was cut short Friday, July 28. He was driving his sister, Courtney, 15, and her best friend back to Burlington from a house in Flamborough late in the evening when their vehicle collided head-on with another vehicle on Hwy. 6 at Concession Road 6 West.
The girls suffered broken bones in the crash, while the other driver, a woman, suffered only minor injuries.
Dalton was pronounced dead shortly after the accident.
Despite dying at such a young age, Dalton has left a notable legacy, say his parents, Kirsten and Joe. They honoured their son’s desire to be an organ donor. He had the rare AB negative blood type.
Dalton was known for his love of movies and TV shows about superheroes, and his parents say he has now become one. His heart was donated to one person, his liver to another and both his kidneys to two different people, all of them Ontario residents.
“All we can think of is how excited they must have been to get that call,” Kirsten said about the hopeful donor recipients and their families getting news that a lifesaving organ was on its way to them.
Kirsten, who just turned 47 Saturday, and hadn’t signed an organ donor card, said: “This has certainly changed my mind about being an organ donor.”
As she talks about her son, Courtney and Cole, her twin brother, join her in the family’s living room. But they say little.
Courtney’s mouth is wired shut from a broken jaw sustained in the accident. She also has a purple-coloured cast on her left forearm, shielding a broken bone in her wrist. She appears in considerable pain, physical and emotional.
Her 15-year-old friend in the car that night has more serious injuries.
A graduate of Pauline Johnson Elementary School and later Nelson High School, in 2016, Dalton was planning to study in the Protection, Security and Investigation program at Mohawk College and stay on campus with a close childhood friend.
“He was such a good boy, very helpful. I never had to worry about him. He was a very shy kid. When he went into baseball that went away. As he got older, that confidence overflowed. Technically, he was a man, but he was my baby,” said Kirsten.
“He was a very respectful, smart young man. He was very protective of his siblings. His friends called him ‘Grandpa,’” because of his gentle, caring way, said Joe.
“This is a parent’s worst nightmare . ... Our phone has been ringing off the hook” with words of comfort from shocked relatives and friends, said Kirsten.
All three Beamish children worked at the McDonald’s at Appleby Line and Fairview Street. Workers at the restaurant are wearing custom-made Toronto Blue Jays hats — Dalton was a big fan of the team, pitched for Nelson H.S., in house league and also for select teams. The caps have his nickname ‘Beam’ and his usual uniform number ‘9’ on the side.
Heartache has hit the Beamishes in recent years. Joe, a Palermo boy, lost his mother in 2013. Kirsten, a Montreal native who grew up in east Oakville, lost one of her sisters to cancer in 2016.
A GoFundMe page set up by a group of Dalton’s friends, for the benefit of his family, had garnered an astounding $42,420 in donor pledges from 439 people in just three days as of late last Friday.
“We were expecting maybe $5,000$10,000,” said Kirsten.
She and Joe admitted they didn’t know what a GoFundMe site even was until one of Dalton’s friends, Alex Burns, asked them if he could start one on their behalf.
Knowing how expensive funerals are, having now arranged for Dalton’s the day before speaking, the Beamishes say the donated money will come in handy for things needed while they both take time off work.
Joe has worked at Oakville Bending and Stamping for about 10 years; Kirsten has been with Frontline Carrier Systems in Oakville for about 20 years. Both employers have been supportive, they say.
“Now we can give him a little extra,” Joe said about the Aug. 12 funeral for his son. “Courtney has some rehabilitation that might not be covered and we need a newer car,” he added.
The Beamishes are meeting with officers from the Burlington OPP detachment. They hope to finally learn what might have caused the crash. Joe said they’ve talked to police and hospital staff and were told toxicology tests indicated Dalton did not have any alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of the accident.
Although their son was relatively young, Joe said they had faith in Dalton’s driving ability.
“We weren’t going to let her (Courtney) go (to Flamborough),” but they relented knowing that Dalton was going to pick her up. “I haven’t been able to go up there yet,” Joe said of visiting the crash site.
“We’re not looking to point any fingers or (seek) justice,” said Joe.
They only want to know what happened.
Kirsten and Joe Beamish with a photo of their son, Dalton. Joe holds a Blue Jays cap with the word ‘Beam,’ Dalton’s nickname, and baseball uniform number 9 on the side.