If life were fair, no parent would ever have to endure the tragedy that Dave and Gwen Mills suffered when their teenage son Garrett was killed in a freak accident.
By now this community is all too aware of what occurred at King Street Park on May 12, 2017 when an unsecured soccer net toppled over and took the life of the 15-year-old Mills. By all accounts Mills was a caring and compassionate teen, who was well liked by his peers and never looked to cause any trouble. Nothing about his sudden passing seemed just or made any kind of sense.
Though nothing will ever bring Garrett back, there have been some positive steps taken in the aftermath of his passing. One of those is the work going on to establish the Garrett Mills Legacy Centre, which promises to be a place of healing, learning, playing and growing for youths, dedicated in Garrett’s memory. Another positive occurred earlier this month when Hastings-Lennox and Addington MPP Ric Bresee got the Garrett’s Legacy Act to a second reading in the provincial legislature. The act is now on the doorstep so to speak of becoming a provincial law, with good reason to believe it will get passed following the summer break. Essentially the act will spell out the regulations for moveable soccer nets, ensuring they are all properly secured. This act has been proposed for years and has twice stalled without getting passed for any real reason other than red tape and timing. When speaking to Bresee about the act last week, it was reassuring to hear all parties had thrown their support behind the act. It’s easy to be cynical about government at any level (and they often give good reason to be cynical), but in this instance it was great to hear on a matter involving the safety of children, they’re willing to work together. They’re a myriad of other things to quarrel over; the safety of children isn’t one of them.
Plenty of credit deserves to go to Mills’ parents, who have done their part to make sure his death won’t be in vain. In the months and now years following the accident, the Mills family members have been advocates for soccer net safety, shining light on the potential dangers to ensure no other parents has to receive that bone-chilling call. Their advocacy means having to talk about Garrett’s passing again and again, reliving that horrific day. While doing so helps to keep his memory alive and makes sure something positive can come out of an otherwise devastating event, it’s likely not easy for the family either. Ever the optimist, Dave Mills has stated the numerous attempts to get the act passed have provided him with more opportunities to talk about his son. Dave has reiterated many times that just days before his passing, Garrett expressed his desire to leave a legacy.
Thanks to the admirable work of his parents, with some help from a local MPP, Garrett’s legacy will live on for generations.