Toronto family reels after three drowning deaths
TORONTO - After three consecutive days of devastating news, a Toronto father is struggling to help his two sons cope with the loss of their mother and two sisters, who drowned in a hotel pool while vacationing in an eastern Ontario resort town.
Naila Yasmin, 43, a wife and mother of four, died in hospital on Sunday. Her 14-year-old daughter, Kinza Kaianad, died Monday evening and 11-year-old Sunaila Kaianad died Tuesday afternoon. All died at Kingston General Hospital.
Autopsy results suggest that Yasmin and her daughters, described as "non-swimmers," likely drowned in a ten-minute span Saturday.
Meanwhile, the family patriarch and his two young sons - aged 4 and 7 - were eating breakfast at the Best Western Country Squire Resort, where the Toronto family was staying during their vacation to the Thousand Islands.
Now the father, identified as Muhammad Sana Ullah by Abdul Qayum of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, is left to plan funeral arrangements and nurture his boys.
The family has lived in a highrise in the heart of Toronto's Pakistani community for more than five years.
News of the tragedy had spread quickly through the apartment complex Wednesday. Someone had placed a large arrangement of white flowers by Ullah's home.
A note written in Urdu, the Pakistani language spoken by the family, was taped to the door of their apartment. Translated, it asked anyone who wished to pay their condolences to knock on the door of the neighbouring apartment, where family friends had gathered Wednesday.
The door was left ajar for those who knew the family to enter whispering soft messages of grief and support.
Hanif Ahmed, who lives down the hall from the family, said they were very close.
"They are a very good family," he said. "So attached."
A colleague who works with Ullah as a real estate agent at Homelife Victory Realty Inc. said he spoke with Ullah on Wednesday, after hearing the sad news from a close family friend.
With both parents working -- Yasmin at a Tim Horton's -- the family had long planned to go on vacation while the children's school was closed for the summer.
Ahmed said he last saw Yasmin in the hallway just before the family left.
"She was a very nice woman," he said. "She was telling me they were going out of the city for their vacation. It's very sad."
Both girls attended nearby Thorncliffe Public School.
Mohammed Ajaz has lived in the neighbourhood for five years. His 12-year-old daughter often spent evenings playing in an area park with the two Ullah girls.
"They were happy kids. Very playful, very respectful of elders," he said.
"They were very familiar in the neighborhood," he said. "It's a big tragedy."
Good friends of the family who live in the building are currently taking care of Ullah's young sons.
Abubaker Motala, a caretaker at the Masjid Dar Al Salaam mosque, said preparations were being made for a service for the family Thursday. He said he felt for the father, who attended the mosque.
"For the husband it's very sad. He's now going to have to raise his two young sons on his own."
Neighbours said Ullah was hoping to get permission from Pakistani authorities to fly the bodies of his wife and daughters home to Pakistan, where the rest of his extended family lives.
OPP Sgt. Pierre Chamberland called the drownings "an unfortunate misadventure," adding, "a father and two boys are having to bury their sisters and mother."
Results of the autopsies on Yasmin and her 14-year-old daughter released Tuesday suggested the cause of their deaths were "consistent with drowning."
Police have not yet released the results of Wednesday's autopsy on 11-year-old Sunaila.
Foul play has been ruled out in the three deaths and autopsy results do not suggest the pool's chemicals played any role, said Gananoque police chief Kai Liu.
Two witnesses report seeing the two girls in the shallow end of the pool with their mother watching from the deck around 8:40 a.m. Saturday.
There is about a ten-minute gap between those witnesses leaving the pool and the grisly discovery of the three lying face down and unconscious in the deep end.
A father with two children entered the unsupervised pool area just before 8:50 a.m. and found the family.
He called hotel staff, who immediately called police.
The man and emergency crews pulled the family from the pool and attempted CPR.