What was supposed to be a nice family camping trip before back to school, has ended in a nightmare.
9-year-old Everett Freeman went camping with his family on Huckleberry Island in Georgian Bay, and went missing around 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 12.
After a 24-hour search, it ended in tragedy when Freeman’s body was recovered.
“He was one in a million, he was so smart, so kind, so compassionate and so loving,” said Korey Freeman, the father of Everett. “We went there Thursday night, and Friday the kids were playing hide and seek. Everett was playing with some of his younger cousins, the game petered off and he wandered off . He’s an introvert so sometimes he needed a bit of space.”
OPP began a major search effort, lasting well overnight into Saturday.
Their search included three canine units, aviation services, their marine unit and their underwater search & recovery team.
Local fire departments and the Canadian Search and Rescue Team were also helping out in the search.
“We’re just so grateful, we’re so heartbroken but so grateful we had Everett for these nine years,” said a devastated Korey Freeman.
The family said it doesn’t know how this could have happened. Everett’s father Korey Freeman told CTV News that he’s incredibly thankful to the police and everyone involved in the search. An outpouring of support and condolences have also flooded Freeman’s social media, for which he said he’s forever grateful.
Former Waterloo Region family remembers nine-year-old after search comes to tragic end
A family that recently moved from Waterloo Region is remembering the life of their nine-year-old boy after the search for him came to a tragic end.
Everett Freeman is being remembered as a beautiful soul with a shy and sweet demeanour as well as a certain kind of silliness he only shared with a lucky few.
“Everett was such an amazing kid,” said Korey Freeman, Everett’s dad. “He was one in a million.”
Korey says their family of five are from Waterloo Region and moved to Seguin Township in Parry Sound about a month ago. Part of the reasoning for the move was to give their kids a chance to explore the outdoors.
“Everybody loved him and he loved life,” said Korey. “He loved to laugh, he was just so full of fun, he was so fun to hang out with, and we’re just going to miss him so much.”
Everett was reported missing on Friday afternoon during a family camping trip on Huckleberry Island in Georgian Bay.
“The kids were playing hide and seek,” said Korey. “Everett was playing with some of his younger cousins and the game kind of petered out and he wandered off.”
When they couldn’t find him, Ontario Provincial Police were called in, and a massive search effort began.
“The search was really overwhelming,” said Korey. “I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone involved. It was so many people. It was unbelievable. They pulled out all the stops, a helicopter in the sky, people searching through the night.”
On Saturday night, Everett’s body was found.
“The dive team was brought in to search the water and they found him close to those rocks he would avoid,” said Korey. “It seemed like he must have slipped and fell in.”
Police do not suspect any foul play.
Korey says Everett loved camping and was a careful kid, but couldn’t swim. The family is currently waiting for an autopsy report.
“His sister is really feeling it,” said Korey. “They were so close. She’s lost her big brother and her best friend, but she’s being so brave and doing the best she can.”
Everett previously attended Cedarbrae Public School in Waterloo.
The Waterloo Region District School Board says it normally does offer mental health support for students and staff in these circumstances, but summer break may impact this.