Second child in Columbiana County dies from suspected flu-related illness

EAST LIVERPOOL — A 7-year-old East Liverpool boy has died from an apparent flu-related illness, the second child from Columbiana County to do so in the past two weeks.

County coroner investigator Wade Boley confirmed that Colton Williams of Lisbon Street died after being rushed to the East Liverpool City Hospital emergency room on Saturday morning. He had been to the emergency room the day before.

“He had become unresponsive at home and was rushed to the emergency room, where they spent a considerable amount of time trying to resuscitate him, but they were unsuccessful,” he said.

Boley said Williams’ death is believed to be flu related but they will not know for sure until an autopsy is completed by the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, which is where the boy’s body was taken for examination.

East Liverpool School Superintendent Randy Taylor identified the child only as a first-grade student at North Elementary School. He said the start of school will be delayed for two hours on Monday, with counselors and the Rev. Ernest Peachey available at the school during that time to meet with interested parents, staff and students.

“If anyone wants to talk we want to be able to support each other. We’re family here,” he said. “I can’t even imagine what the family is going through … They have the love and support of the Potter family.”

Taylor said the janitorial staff will be at the school today to perform an extra cleaning of the facility. “We have the same (cleaning) protocol that we follow year-round, especially during flu season,” and that includes wiping down desks, door knobs, water fountains, etc, he said. “We just want to make sure everything is as it should be.”

Williams is the fourth child in Ohio and the second from the county to have died from a flu-related illness in the past two weeks.

Six-year-old Christopher “CJ” Avila from Salem died on Jan. 28, followed by a 7-year-old Fulton County girl who had an underlying congenital heart defect. reported Friday a 6-year-old Cuyahoga County boy died after being admitted to the Cleveland Clinic with a high fever.

The Centers for Disease Control reported that 20 children nationwide have died this flu season, which generally runs from October to May, with the peak being December to February. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

East Liverpool City Health Commissioner Carol Cowan said it is not too late for children over the age of six months to receive a flu vaccine if their parents have not done so yet. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect.

“The best prevention is to get a flu shot and then be aware of the symptoms, and then do common sense things like wash your hands and stay home if you don’t feel well,” she said.

Those considered at risk are anyone with underdeveloped or weakened immune systems, such as those 2 and younger or 65 and over, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses.