Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Community mourns sociable, fun-loving boy who died at childcare centre

The body of a young boy who was killed in a tragic accident at an Auckland daycare centre has been released to his family.

Aldrich Viju, 4, who friends and family described as a typical kid who loved to play with his friends, died on Friday afternoon at Angels Childcare Centre in Takapuna.

President of the Auckland Malayali Samajam group Joseph Devasia understood the autopsy had been completed and his body would soon be with a local funeral parlour.

"I don't have the final report," he said. "I can't comment on that.

"We will be having a prayer service on Monday morning at 10:30am, at Ellerslie Catholic Church, which will be the time for people to pay tribute."

Devasia said the boy's body might be sent back home to India on Wednesday or Thursday for the funeral.

At a Malayali Samajam community event being held in Mt Roskill this afternoon, Devasia said a few moments of prayer would be devoted to Aldrich and his grieving family.

Aldrich Viju was just four months shy of his fifth birthday and would have been starting school in the New Year.

However, after yesterday afternoon's fatal playground accident at Angels Childcare Centre in Takapuna, his parents are now faced with the task of saying their last goodbyes to their eldest child.

Devasia who'd met Aldrich through the family's community involvement, said the young boy was active and sociable.

He described him as your typical four-year-old who loved making friends, playing with his toys and running around just as kids do.

"He made friends and he loved to play with his toys and also his sports activities; usually just the kids sort of sports running around and all."

Devasia said the whole community was still reeling from the tragedy.

He'd spent yesterday evening at the family home and was planning to head there again later today.

"It's definitely shocking news and it's taking some time for people to get used to what happen, especially the parents in this difficult situation.

"We are all just trying to stay together in this situation and supporting his parents and liasing with family back in India."

Devasia believed the family had been in New Zealand for five or six years, having moved to Auckland from their home town of Kochi, in Kerala, India.

Aldrich, was followed two years after his birth in March 2012, by a younger sister and it's understood his mother is currently six months pregnant with her third child.

The details of exactly how Aldrich died yesterday afternoon at the centre on Anzac St are not yet known.

Police, who were called to the site on the Northshore just after 2pm yesterday, described it as a likely accident on playground equipment. A scene examination has been undertaken and witnesses were spoken to yesterday.

Police said the matter was to be referred to the coroner.

Worksafe was also making initial inquiries into the accident and had sent investigators to the site yesterday afternoon.

Devasia said he couldn't comment further on what exactly had happened at the playground as they were waiting on the official report.

He said the family was also still considering how they'd farewell their boy, whether they'd hold the service here, or take his body back home to India for the service.

Yesterday the community mourned "one of its little angels", with tributes flying on social media as close friends and family gathered at his home.

One poster on social media wrote: "No words to express how sorry we are for your loss. Just a fleeting visit on this plane from a special angel".

Bouquets were being laid at the childcare facility yesterday evening and staff were seen by victim support counsellors.

Family members, including the boy's parents, were at the playground for some time after the accident before a hearse arrived just before 4.30pm.

They stood solemnly with the boy's father as it pulled up towards the playground, then gathered around the hearse and hugged.

One man clasped his hands in prayer and appeared to be giving a blessing as the others bowed their heads briefly.

The Early Childhood Council said it was shocked and deeply saddened by the incident yesterday.

Council chief executive Peter Reynolds described the death as "one of those things that sends a shiver down your spine".

"We send our love and support to the child's family and friends, to the parents of other children at the centre, and to those who manage and teach at the centre," he said.

Reynolds said he did not know what happened or why, and was not in a position to comment on the specifics of the incident.

The council will be reading publicly available reports on the accident investigation to see if there might be lessons for other centres, said Reynolds.

"But right now all we are doing is feeling very, very sad for all involved, and especially for the family of the child.

"The thoughts of all early childhood centre owners, managers and teachers will be with them tonight."

- NZ Herald

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