An autopsy has concluded a toddler left in a car parked outside a Burlington, Ont., television station Wednesday died after being exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time, according to Halton Regional Police.
The police announced late Thursday the preliminary cause of death was hyperthermia, "consistent with the child being left in a vehicle."
The boy's body was found outside of the Crossroads Centre, a complex that houses a faith-based television network and other private businesses, in the city 60 kilometres southwest of Toronto.
People at the centre held a prayer vigil for the boy's family Thursday morning and addressed the loss in the network's flagship morning TV show, 100 Huntley Street.
Building owner Shawn Saulnier confirmed he knows the family and said he is heartbroken for their loss.
"I think they're devastated. They're a wonderful family," he said. "We know them. They're excellent parents and just a beautiful couple. Literally, the nicest couple next door you can imagine."
The boy, who police believe to be three years old, was pronounced dead after emergency crews were called to the lot on North Service Road in Burlington, around 5:30 p.m. ET.
No charges have been laid and police are continuing to investigate. Temperatures that day reached a high of 27 C.
On Thursday, the lot where the boy's body was found was open again.
Cars parked in spaces that the night before had been ringed with yellow police tape and a landscaping company unloaded lawn mowers from a trailer just a few metres from where the coroner had pulled up.
There wasn't a sign of what had happened until a woman with short blond hair placed two bouquets in a parking space along the building's back wall.
The woman, who was visibly upset, would only say that she used to work there and "felt like I had to do something."
Inside the building, the signs of loss were more obvious.
The family who lost their son are not part of the centre's ministry, but were tenants in the building, according to the organization's chief operating officer, Jack Vanderkooy, but members still started the day with readings and prayers for grieving members.
Our focus is to support the family and their loved ones. Not to condemn them, not to judge.-Jack Vanderkooy, Crossroads COO
Tragedy and loss were the subject of Thursday's episode of 100 Huntley Street, a Christian talk show filmed there.
"There's a lot of pain in the building," said Vanderkooy. Crossroads members and other building tenants were hugging and huddled in prayer circles, he said.
"Everyone in the building can relate, because we all have either children that age or grandchildren that age, so a tragedy like this really does affect everybody."
Centre's focus is on support, not judgment
Grief counsellors were at the centre Thursday to provide comfort, and the organization was also asking people to call its 24/7 prayer line for support.
Saulnier said he hasn't spoken with the family yet.
He thanked the community for the "overwhelming support" that's been shown to them.
The boy’s body was found in a vehicle parked outside the Crossroads Centre. Shawn Saulnier owns the building and said people are devastated by the loss. He says the boy’s parents are “the nicest couple next door you could imagine.” <a href="https://t.co/ayZKX8zgR6">pic.twitter.com/ayZKX8zgR6</a>
Vanderkooy said he believes God is grieving along with the family and that the centre will continue to be there for the boy's parents.
"Our focus is to support the family and their loved ones. Not to condemn them, not to judge, just to show God's love to them through us. We are God's arms as we encircle them."