DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The Kawartha Lakes community is paying its respects to the family of 11-year-old Draven Graham.

The young boy, who was autistic and was reported missing on Sunday, June 12th, was found dead in the Scugog River on Monday, June 13th.

Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham issued a statement, sending his and council’s condolences, on Tuesday, June 14th.

“On behalf of all members of Council and City staff, I extend deepest sympathies to Draven’s family. Our hearts are breaking for your loss. Words cannot express the sorrow you must be feeling. Please know that we send you, and all those who knew and loved Draven, our heartfelt condolences,” the statement read. “Yesterday’s tragedy cannot be overstated. Alongside it, we saw a heroic response from all corners of the community. Each of our first responders worked alongside neighbours, friends and strangers who searched, spread [the] word, prayed and hoped for a better outcome. This is what makes Kawartha Lakes a strong and caring community. Thank you to everyone who came together to show what being a part of this community means.”

In a Facebook post, MPP Laurie Scott called this a “devastating loss for our community” but also sent thanks “to the first responders, volunteers and community members for their assistance and quick action.”

MP Jamie Schmale also expressed his sorrow in a social media post.

“There are simply no words to describe the grief which our entire community now shares with the news of Draven’s passing. His family, his friends, his neighbours, his teachers, [and] all of those who will now gather to share tender stories and fresh tears of sorrow; we must keep them all in our hearts as we support each other’s healing from this unimaginable tragedy.”

A candlelight vigil was held in Rivera Park in Lindsay on Friday, June 17th, with hundreds of people packing the park to grieve and remember the young boy.

Attendees dropped flowers in the river, and a makeshift memorial was created in the park with children’s toys, written messages and candles. One of Draven’s grandfathers, Dave Corman, sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ Another of his grandparents, Bill Hayes, spoke at the event, describing Draven as “a sweet little boy” and “a handsome young boy.”

“We are really going to miss him,” Mr. Hayes said.