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Mississauga neighbours hold vigil for father and two sons who died in burned-out car

July 11, 2014

Thursday evening, July 3, was unseasonably chilly. Temperatures dipped down to 10C in greater Toronto.

In Mississauga Samuel Masih, 36, told his wife Brintha Shanmugalingam that he was taking their two sons, Tyrese, 10, and Santosh, 4, to the movies. They ended up just outside of Barrie, a 118-kilometre drive from the family home on Riel Drive.


In summer, families come out in droves Thursdays to the Sunset Barrie drive-in, for the $17 carload deal. At 9:30 p.m. Thursday, How to Train Your Dragon 2 played, followed by Maleficent on Screen Three. Transformers played on Screen 1, followed by Blended. The drive-in manager, David Hayes, didn’t recall seeing the Mississauga family or their car, with 450 people packing the drive-in. Nor did he see anything unusual when he drove home at 4:30 a.m., past Holick Road, a remote dead-end street a block from the drive-in.

But an hour later, as dawn broke last Friday, a passing motorist noticed a plume of smoke coming from Holick Road. By the time fire crews doused the flames, the Toyota Venza SUV was so badly burned that police could not  tell the age nor sex of the deceased. Only an autopsy at the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto revealed the grim truth: that Tyrese and Santosh were immolated, along with Mr. Masih. Police are confident the person responsible for the deaths is among the dead.

As darkness fell Thursday night more than 100 people gathered at the family’s home in the leafy community with large, double garage brick homes, minivans in driveways and well-kept lawns. They added notes to a makeshift memorial on the steps of the home, lit candles, prayed the rosary and sang Ave Maria. Neighbours said they had not seen Ms. Shanmugalingam in more than a week.

Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Close family friend and neighbour Junior Sookran said the last time he saw Mr. Masih was the day he died. Asked how he was at that time, Mr Sookran said, “I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

Nor would he comment on speculation that there had been marital difficulties.

Neighbour Claudia Ah-Yen said she has heard the speculation but doesn’t know if it was true. “The Dad just seemed like a normal guy, he’d pick kids up, drop them off, do the shopping… It’s very hard to comprehend.”

For Tyrese’s 10-year-old friend the tragedy is beyond comprehension.

“He was nice,” Shawna Sebastian, 10, said of Tyrese, who was in her grade at Bishop Scalabrini Catholic School, five minutes’ walk from their home. “If there was a new kid in school he was like, ‘You want to be friends?’ ”

She dropped off a note that read, “You did not deserve this and you are a very sweet boy.”

Tyrese loved playing soccer and tag with his friends at recess and was excited to start Grade 6, she said.

Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Nicolas Lujan, 9, who lit a candle, lives around the corner. He remembers Santosh running after his older brother on his bike. Tyrese and his little brother were close, he said.

A tricycle and small Power Wheels Jeep Wrangler sat on the family’s front porch. Two bags of topsoil were nearby and a rake leaned against the side of the house.

“I just don’t know how their mom’s going to handle it. It’s a lot to lose everyone she loved at once,” said next-door neighbour Emily Ah-Yen, 17.

Mr. Masih was a psychiatrist who worked in North Bay and commuted home on weekends, said Mr. Sookran, who coached Tyrese in soccer. The boys’ mother works in IT. “They loved their kids,” he said. “It is shocking.”

Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Mr. Masih was a “serious” man, according to Rev. Shahid Kamal, the pastor at Evangelical Asian Church, of which Mr. Masih had been a member since childhood. “He was a very quiet and serious guy. Very organized.” The church on Royal York Road in Etobicoke serves a small community of Pakistani and Indian Christians.

As a young man, Mr. Masih moved to North Bay to study, where he later got married, had two children and worked as a doctor.

The family lived in North Bay until about five years ago when they moved back to Mississauga. Mr. Masih continued to live in a bungalow home in Trout Creek, about 50 kilometres south of North Bay, returning to Mississauga on weekends.

Back at the Riel Drive home, a helium balloon that looked like a soccer ball tapped softly against the brick pillar.

A note on the balloon read simply, “You will be missed.”

National Post

Peter J. Thompson/National Post
Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Article source: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/07/10/mississauga-neighbours-hold-vigil-for-father-and-two-sons-who-died-in-burned-out-car/

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