Brittany Bergsma remembered as being 'so full of life'
A memorial for Brittany Bergsma on McKeand Street in Ingersoll displays one of her favourite Disney characters, Simba. (Chris Funston/Sentinel-Review)
She could light up a room without saying a word.
Brittany Bergsma, 18, was killed on June 8 after being struck by a passenger train in Ingersoll.
Bergsma had low-functioning autism and required 24-hour care. She was said to have been playing in a family member's yard, near McKeand Street, when she wandered away through an opening in their privacy fence and walked to the nearby train tracks.
Oxford County OPP said the death was accidental and no foul play is suspected. The investigation has now been turned over to CN police.
Tasha Callow, Bergsma's respite worker for the past eight years, believes Bergsma had no understanding of suicide or pain. She said she was like a two-year-old inside of an 18-year-old's body.
Callow shared a story from Bergsma's mother, when she had taken the girl to Storybook Gardens, which showed Bergsma had little understanding of danger.
Brittany Bergsma was killed after being struck by a passenger train on June 8. (Submitted)
“She dove into the pool with sea lions. She didn't understand that the sea lions might hurt her. She saw water and wanted to go swimming,” said Callow. “She didn't understand danger. …If she saw a cat on the other side of the street, she'd run and not even look at the cars. She didn't understand the concept that a car could hurt her.”
While Bergsma wasn't very vocal, she would often mimic what others said.
She loved Disney movies – the Lion King was her favourite. Callow said you could tell she knew all of the words to the movie and would mimic the characters and hum along to the songs.
“She was awesome,” said Callow. “She was like my little sidekick.”
Family friends, Susan West and Mala Sondhi, said they will remember Bergsma as always being full of life.
“She just made everybody happy. She was always smiling, always humming,” said West.
Sondhi recalled how Bergsma would react when saying goodbye, as she would mimic back what was said to her.
“If you said 'goodbye, Brittany, I love you' she would say back 'goodbye, Brittany, I love you.' That's just the way she was. She was so full of life,” said Sondhi.
A GoFundMe page – gofundme.com/brittany-bergsma-fund – has been started for Bergsma's family with proceeds going towards funeral and other related expenses.