13-year-old Floyd County student dies from COVID-19, coroner says

Classmates of a 13-year-old Coosa High School student who died from COVID-19 Tuesday morning are in a state of shock. 

"He was kind-hearted," said Caralina Willitts, a sophomore at the school who had classes with the boy. "He had he warmest heart to where he was nice to everybody."

The boy, Porter Helms, was battling COVID-19 since last week.

According to Floyd County Coroner Gene Proctor, the boy was found not breathing by his father in the early morning hours. Emergency crews were called and started 911. The student was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:55 a.m.

Proctor said the cause of death was respiratory failure due to COVID-19.

Willitts, 15, said she found out the devastating news by scrolling on her Facebook feed. 

"It makes me want to go home school because I don’t want to be around that no more," she said.

Caprice Willitts, her mom, said she thinks the boy’s death should come as a wakeup call for school officials.

"It’s sad," Willitts said. "I mean, it is. Why are they in school, is what my question is."

Students at Coosa High School began wearing masks last week, when the rate of infection in the area surpassed two percent. 

Willitts, who also has a nine-year-old son in the school district, is frustrated because the district does not have a virtual option for students until the rate of infection exceeds five percent. 

"Let the kids go virtual, what’s it going to hurt? Let us homeschool them if that’s what we need," she said. "I mean, it makes me want to pull them out. But then we’re going to get in trouble."

Floyd County Schools released the following statement to FOX 5:

The loss of a child, at any time, under any circumstances, is a tragedy. We are heartbroken that COVID-19 has taken the life of a child. We extend our deepest sympathy to this child’s family and all others who have lost a loved one to this virus.

Because we know this will impact our school community emotionally, we encourage parents to be emotionally sensitive and prepare to offer support to their child or children during this difficult time. 

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