CHAMBLEE, Ga. - Grief counselors are on hand at a DeKalb County high school, helping students cope with the loss of a classmate who died from the flu.
Miguel Martinez died over the weekend from complications due to the flu, according to family members.
"He was a very active kid. He would play sports. He would always play with me and my brother," said Samuel Yerena, who grew up with Miguel. The teens were also classmates at Cross Keys High School.
Family friends told FOX 5 News the teen was ill for about three or four days before dying of the flu on Sunday. Loved ones gathered at his mother's Chamblee home as news of his death spread.
"It was very heartbreaking and I came to see what I could do to help," said Yerena.
Monday afternoon, DeKalb County school officials issued a written statement reading in part:
"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."
"She finds out about her friend and she feels so bad because she's a mother too," said Tomas Cortes, translating for his wife, Elizabeth Padilla.
Cortes and Padilla know the Martinez family and were devastated to learn of the teen's sudden death.
"The flu is everywhere right now," said Cortes.
Miguel's death is a tragic reminder for Cortes and other parents of the real dangers posed by the potentially deadly virus this flu season. They worry for their own children as they do what they can for Miguel's family during this difficult time.
"We see later how we can help. What we can do for the family," said Cortes.
This is the third reported flu death among children in Georgia. A 15-year-old girl from Coweta County also was overcome by the virus. As of Friday, 63 children have died across the nation with 10 of those being in the last week.
New numbers released by state health officials Friday reported a total of 66 people died in Georgia from complications from the flu. That number was expected to rise over the weekend as reports of more than 100 hospitalizations came in just last week.
Health experts said each flu season about 10 to 15 percent of Americans contract the virus. This year, up to 35 million people may get sick.