NEW CANAAN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — A 10-year-old boy in Connecticut is the first flu-related death of a child in the state this season.
Fourth-grader Nico Mallozzi tested positive for Influenza B when he died Sunday, said New Canaan Public Schools Superintendent Bryan Luizzi.
“At this point, it has been confirmed that Nico had been diagnosed with Influenza B, a strain of the Flu that is currently spreading in the Northeast,” Luizzi said.
As CBS2’s Reena Roy reported, one day he was a lively, healthy kid on skates, the next he was unknowingly fighting for his life.
“His mom called me and she said, ‘Nico’s not feeling well,’” hockey coach Tomasz Piatek told Roy.
On Wednesday, Mallozzi simply had a fever. It seemed like your average flu.
“I saw him Saturday night. He was fine, we were joking,” said Piatek.
But Sunday while at a hockey tournament upstate, things quickly took a turn for the worse. Officials told CBS2 that Mallozzi then got pneumonia, which turned into sepsis – a fatal infection in the blood.
“I never expect just flu can kill a person,” Piatek said.
Nearly 400 family and friends gathered for a prayer service held in memory of the boy at Saint Aloysius Parish on Monday.
“It was difficult for us to sing the hymns even because we were so affected by this, so broken up. But it was important to be together and I asked everyone toward the end of the service to turn and embrace one another and I think that was very powerful,” Fr. Rob Kinnally said.
Mallozi was a star player on the Connecticut Rough Riders hockey team and a beloved student at West Elementary School in New Canaan. He was known for his energy, enthusiasm and big personality.
“Obviously it’s very sad, it’s very concerning news. We knew the family and as a community, we’re very sad,” parent Andrea Arellano said.
“He’s got a big heart,” said Piatek. “He had a big, big heart.”
“Nico was a wonderful, enthusiastic, outgoing boy who was know school-wide for his high spirits, limitless energy, and quick smile. He loved sports, especially gathering up friends to play football at recess, and was a devoted hockey player and teammate. We will miss Nico terribly, and will always cherish our memories of him as a vibrant, fun-loving boy,” Luizzi said.
“Everybody knew him and loved him. He was the voice of the afternoon announcements and would always ad-lib a little and have everybody end their day with a smile,” he told Roy.
Counselors are being brought to New Canaan schools following his tragic death.
“We’re wiping down the doors, cleaning the buildings,” said Luizzi. “We want to let people know whatever they need we’re here for them and certainly for the family.”
Mallozzi’s hockey team will practice without him for the first time since his death Tuesday night. His teammates and anyone close to him have been advised to see a doctor.
His 12-year-old brother is recovering from the flu. He’s expected to be OK.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the Mallozzi family.