Southern Ontario town reeling after unidentified girl’s remains pulled from river

The southern Ontario community where a girl's remains were found in a river earlier this week is "in shock and is searching for information on how such a thing could happen," Haldimand County’s deputy mayor said Thursday.

OPP were called to the Grand River in Dunnville on Tuesday

The southern Ontario community where a girl's remains were found in a river earlier this week is "in shock and is searching for information on how such a thing could happen," Haldimand County's deputy mayor said Thursday.

Bernie Corbett told CBC Hamilton he has "many unanswered questions" as he awaits more information from Ontario Provincial Police on the identity of the girl, who is believed to have been between one and four years old, and how she ended up in the Grand River.

Emergency crews were called to the river in Dunnville, Ont., on Tuesday afternoon after the human remains were found, according to OPP Const. Mary Gagliardi.

Maggie Cole, 27, manager of Queens Merritt Room, a restaurant close to the riverbank where police were searching this week in the town of 12,000, called the discovery "very sad news."

"Dunnville is a very small town, so when something like this comes up, it's pretty much all we can talk about," Cole said.

Dunnville is about 55 kilometres southeast of Hamilton, close to where the Grand River meets Lake Erie.

Police said Wednesday the remains appear to have been in the water for some time and they don't believe there is a threat to public safety. Haldimand County OPP, the Ontario coroner's office and the OPP's forensic identification service are investigating the circumstances of the death.

Earlier in the week, members of the OPP's search and recovery unit could be seen in the area, with officers on a boat, on shore and in the water combing the river. Officers assisting in the search from shore held what appeared to be a rope stretched across the waterway.

Wasyl Luczkiw, 28, whose family owns the Grand River Marina and Cafe, said police initially used the business's property as a staging area and used one of its boats to search before bringing their own. The marina is across the river from Queens Merritt Room, on an island in the river.

"They usually launch at the provincial park when they do water patrol, but I think the docks weren't in so they came here," he said. "It's pretty surprising and shocking and sad to hear that somebody lost a loved one. Hopefully they can find closure."

Cole said police came into her restaurant Thursday asking about security footage of the river.

"All through today, I've seen cops driving around," she told CBC Hamilton on Thursday. "There was a helicopter yesterday that flew over the river down to Cayuga."

The Grand River runs from Dufferin Highlands, north of Guelph, to Lake Erie, stretching about 310 kilometres in total.

An autopsy was planned for Thursday in Toronto. OPP have yet to release results or further information.

Police have set up a special tip line related to the discovery. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-844-677-9403. Callers who want to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or reach out online at

"This is a young child that somebody is going to be missing," said OPP Det.-Insp. Shawn Glassford in a video posted on Twitter on Thursday.

The <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HaldimandOPP</a> Crime Unit, under the direction of the Criminal Investigation Branch, continues to investigate the discovery of the body of a child in the Grand River on Tuesday. You can help. Detective Inspector Shawn Glassford explains how. ^dr <a href=""></a>


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