DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Officials have confirmed a 15-year-old student at Cross Keys High School has died as a result of flu complications.
According to DeKalb County school officials, the teen was a student at Cross Keys High School. Social media posts from fellow students at the school identified the teen as 15-year-old Miguel Martinez.
Martinez, officials said, died on Sunday, and the school learned about it Monday morning. Officials said it was the district's first flu-related death.
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The district's superintendent, Dr. R. Stephen Green released a statement Monday extending the school community's sympathies to the Martinez family.
"The entire DeKalb County School District is saddened by the news that one of our own has passed away due to illness. Our thoughts and prayers are with the student's family, loved ones and peers in this unfortunate and trying time. Counselors will be made available to students and staff members at Cross Keys High School during this difficult event.”
Online, people called Martinez smart and friendly. The 15-year-old was the oldest of three and was well-liked, even by people who barely knew him. 11Alive's Faith Abubey spoke to friends of Martinez who said the illness seemingly came out of nowhere.
Mariana Suastguan told 11Alive she saw him last week and "he was fine," she said. "He was doing his work."
Juan Garcia is a childhood friend of Martinez. He said he didn't believe it when friends first told him of the 15-year-old's death, but now, he's having to cope with the loss.
"When I found out he passed away, I got really sad because he was like one of my closest friends," Garcia said. "I really trusted him and everything. I’d go to him to talk to him."
Meanwhile, Green said the loss of a student "crushes my heart." He told 11Alive that the district has been going "full court press" in trying to sanitize the buildings and buses.
"(We're) making sure we're wiping down everything with disinfectants," Green said. "It can't totally eliminate the risk, but it can at least minimize the risk."
In light of Martinez's death, Green is encouraging parents take their kids to get the flu shot.
Much of the United States is in the throes of one of the worst flu seasons in a while. So far in Georgia, a total of 1,027 people have been hospitalized with the flu, and 66 people have died, according to the most recent data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Among those deaths, the DPH has confirmed at least two children between the ages of 5 and 17, including a teen from Newnan, Georgia.
This most recent death would be at least the third.