Aug. 31, 2009 Scottsboro Jackson County Alabama, USA
SCOTTSBORO - Eleven-year-old Alex Garcia of Scottsboro led his soccer team to an 8-1 win Saturday in Huntsville.
But Alex, recalled by his family as a "nonstop" youngster who was a tough competitor on the soccer field, grew gravely ill over the weekend and died Monday morning.
State health officials said they suspect swine flu was the cause of his death, but they did not announce any test results for the novel H1N1 virus Tuesday. It was not immediately known if Alex had an underlying medical condition that might have contributed to the severity of his illness. Alex's parents, Glenn and Veronica Garcia, and their other son, Nathan, 15, recalled how much Alex wanted to become a professional soccer player.
"I couldn't see him doing anything else," Nathan said.
Alex, an "A" student, also played basketball in the city recreation league and saxophone in the school band. But his favorite was soccer, his mother said.
Whether he was playing sports or video games with his family or friends, "he was nonstop," she said. "He had so much energy."
Alex and his cousin Allen Jiminez, also 11, played on the same soccer team, a member of the United Soccer Club. Allen said his cousin was a competitor "who would never back down." On and off the field, "he would stand up for his friends and family."
Alex "had a great game" Saturday, said his head coach, Rusty Campbell of Huntsville. He played any position he was asked to, Campbell said, "and never complained."
Campbell said he coached Alex for three years. "He had a great attitude and was a tremendous soccer player." The club will retire Alex's jersey No. 18, Campbell said. That way, he said, "He'll always be in the club's memory."
Flu has been reported among students in the school system, but Berry said more students were absent Tuesday than Monday mainly because of rumors of swine flu. Although she said she did not know how many students were absent, Berry urged parents to allow children who are not sick to return to school.
"I have three grandchildren in the school system, and they were all in school Tuesday," she said.
Berry said parents were to receive information today for preventing the spread of influenza. "We're following all the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines," she said.
Visitation for Alex will follow a rosary today at 11 a.m. at St. Jude Catholic Church. A funeral Mass will be Thursday at noon with Scottsboro Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
Confirmation: Alex's death was due to the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu). From The Huntsville Times 9/2/2009