Strangers gather to mourn 3-year-old boy who died after walking for 6 hours in freezing cold

The devastated family of a three-year-old boy who died after walking out into sub-zero temperatures have been joined by hundreds of strangers at his funeral.

Elijah Marsh was found in a backyard on February 19 – six hours after leaving his grandmother’s Toronto apartment wearing just a T-shirt and diaper as temperatures plunged to -4F – the wind chill made it feel like -16.

The little boy was rushed to hospital but police announced his death several hours later.

The service on Saturday began at 11am at St. Matthew’s United Church in Toronto. The seats inside filled up quickly so many were forced to listen from outside.

A statement on the chruch’s website said the boy was baptized in the same church in 2012 and his family had been part of the community for years.

A stream of people also attended a visitation for Elijah on Thursday – some had never seen the boy or met the family before.

Elijah’s story captured hearts around Canada and the United States.

The news was a ‘gut-wrenching moment’ for Justin Kozuch, 36, a Toronto reporter with two children – so he decided to launch a fundraising campaign on Tilt.com for the boy’s family.

Strangers clubbed together to raise more than $150,000 for the child’s family so they could organize the funeral.

The boy’s family woke at about 7.30am to find he was missing. They had last seen him when they put him to bed wearing a T-shirt and diaper at about 9.30pm.

Security footage from the building shows Elijiah pushing his way through the apartment building’s front door at 4.05am.

He was last seen on camera on the apartment’s driveway at 4.20am before wandering off.

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