News Article Details

7-year-old - who died after being diagnosed with flu, strep throat - ?was the life of the party'

The Daily Progress - 2/1/2018

Seven-year-old Kevin Baynes Jr., the Pittsylvania County boy who died Sunday after being diagnosed with the flu and strep throat, could light up a room.

"He loved everybody," his mother Samantha Baynes, of Hurt, said Monday. "He was the life of the party."

Kevin, who was autistic, loved the video game Minecraft and the superhero Power Rangers.

But the Mount Airy Elementary School first-grader who was full of life came home sick from school Friday. He was vomiting and all he would do was sleep, his mother said.

"We brought him home, gave him Tylenol and he basically slept," she said. "He wouldn't get up. He wouldn't move."

She and her husband, Kevin Baynes Sr., figured they would let him sleep it off through the night.

Saturday morning, little Kevin was taken to Centra Gretna Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with the flu and strep throat and sent home, she said.

He couldn't hold down anything he ate or drank, and slept Saturday and into the night. They gave him more Tylenol.

Around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, he woke up fussing, his mother said.

"I tried to give him comfort and hugged him and I held him," she said. "He went on back to sleep."

But at about 8 a.m., the Baynes' 9-year-old daughter woke Samantha up and said Kevin Jr. wasn't breathing, she said.

They called 911 and paramedics and sheriff's deputies raced to the home and transported him to the hospital.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital, reports the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office.

Centra spokesperson Diane Baker said there was a pediatric death, but would not confirm that it was Kevin Baynes Jr. HIPPA laws prohibit her from answering questions about specific cases, she said.

"Centra is devastated for this family," Baker said in a prepared statement. "We extend our thoughts and prayers and grieve with them."

The Lynchburg-based provider is treating the death as flu-related, she said in the statement, and is waiting for final results from the Medical Examiner's Office in Roanoke.

"Centra is working closely with the Virginia Department of Health as they proceed with an investigation into the case," she said in the statement. "Based on what we know, this appears to be an aggressive flu strain."

Pittsylvania County Superintendent Mark Jones said a psychologist, as well as an additional student guidance counselor and a retired principal, went to the school Monday to assist with students dealing with the loss.

"It's such a sad thing," Jones said.

School officials were also in contact with the health department Monday, Jones said. Custodians also disinfected surfaces at the elementary school following news of the death on Sunday. Additionally, he said custodians routinely clean with antibacterial and antiviral cleaning supplies.

Jones encouraged parents to keep sick students at home until they have not had a fever for 24 hours and to practice correct hand-washing habits.

Dr. Scott J. Spillmann, director of the Pittsylvania/Danville Health District, said that so far, the state health department has not reported any flu-related pediatric deaths to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state is investigating the death, he said.

"Depending on what happens with further investigation in that case, that may change," Spillmann said.

Spillmann confirmed there was a pediatric death in the health department's Southwest Region, which includes Pittsylvania County, but would not confirm that it was Kevin Baynes Jr.

"Our heart goes out to the family," he said.

In any given year, there is an average of three pediatric flu-related deaths each year in Virginia, Spillmann said. Several million people contract the flu across the nation each year, with about 100,000-250,000 hospitalized and about 40,000 deaths.

This flu season, especially next month, could turn out to be one of the worst in years, he said.

"We are very concerned that February has the potential to be quite a bad month," he said.

February is usually the peak month for influenza cases, Spillmann said.

Dr. Chris Thomson, chief medical officer at Centra, said the typical procedure for treating patients with influenza-like illness is to isolate them from others, put a mask on them to prevent spreading the virus, and evaluating them. A flu test can be ordered, he said.

About 99.99 percent of flu patients do just fine, Thomson said. But there is a concern about the flu, which is "still a significant illness," he said.

"There is mortality associated with the flu," he added, pointing out that 10,000-55,000 patients may die from it each year.

As for Kevin Jr., who had a brother and two sisters, he and his father, Kevin Sr., had a special bond.

"That's my little buddy," the father said. "He's the one that seemed to show me the most affection."

Little Kevin's world revolved around Minecraft, his mother Samantha said. The words he used to describe it left her dumbfounded one time.

"He was talking about watching a YouTube video of Minecraft and he was trying to explain to me what he was doing," she said. "He was using all these big words."

"My 7-year-old knows all these words I don't even know," she recalled thinking to herself.

A GoFundMe page has been set to help cover funeral costs at https://www.gofundme.com/kevin-baynes-jr-7years-old.

 
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