Sunday, November 9, 2008

Contemplating the final hours

With the media release of the autopsy results on Saturday, Sgt Dave Goodbrand of the Barrie Police also mentioned that the family were "having a real difficult time with it, as you can imagine." OPP Constable Mark Maeers also said "we're going to try to answer as may questions for the family as we can" regarding Brandon's final hours.

Once the police have conclusively ruled out foul play, the fact that the are willing to devote more time and effort to find out more details is commendable. Some might suggest that there is not much to be gained here, and that the information would not have any further benefit. While there is some validity to that reasoning, I have trouble voicing why I don't agree. The Coroner determined that the cause of death was severe injuries to the chest, likely from a fall from a tree. While still tragic, there seems to be a strange sliver of comfort to be gained from the fact that the earlier theories of hypothermia turned out not to be true. The thought that Brandon's last hours would be spent disoriented, alone and slowly succumbing to exposure only a very short distance from a road and a farmhouse seemed to be a last, cruel twist of fate on this sad story.

A fall from a tree has an equally tragic result, but the sad fact is that kids die from falls and misadventures like that every year - accidents in backyards, playgrounds, swimming pools and lakes. Does the fact that Brandon died from a traditional "accident" make the outcome any less traumatic to his family, friends, and community? Or course not. And there are unanswered questions at this point - when did he fall, how long did he live after the fall.

The answers to those questions, if any are forthcoming, may make the story once again more difficult on everybody who is or has become emotionally invested in Brandon's life, but the questions are worth asking, and the answers, if available, are worth knowing.

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