London police are asking for public help to recover items from a newborn who died after a crash in Wingham, that were stolen from a vehicle parked at a London hotel.

A two-vehicle collision on Sept. 14 sent two people to hospital with life-threatening injuries, including Marsha Benninger of Clinton, Ont., who was pregnant and a week overdue.

She remains in a London hospital in critical condition, but the crash resulted in the death of her newborn son, who the family named Sawyer.

Her mother, Pauline Benninger, says, "It is the worst thing we ever have had to go is devastating to her and to all of us, but I feel so bad, I wish it could have been me, but it's not and we'll get through it."

Sometime between 8 p.m. Sunday, and 8 a.m. Monday, the family's vehicle was broken into in the parking lot of a Wellington Road hotel.

A nunber of items were stolen, but one - an oak box containing keepsakes of the newborn - holds tremendous sentimental value and the family hopes it will be returned to help the family have closure.

The box is described as being oak with clear varnish and dovetail corners, about 40 centimetres by 30 centimetres in size.

It contained:

  • a lock of the baby boy's hair (dark in colour)
  • full moldings of the baby's feet in clay
  • a yellow knit hat
  • a CD with baby pictures
  • a card with the baby's name and date of his death on it
  • a brown and white sleeper

Police are asking anyone who finds the box or any of its contents to return it to police.

London police Const. Ken Steeves says "It's unknown as to whether the person that took the items knew what in fact they were taking, to them it would be worthless, but to the family it's priceless."

Anyone with information on the theft is asked to contact London police at 519-661-5670 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.