Boy, 13, dies days after choking on meatball at school, his mother says

A Chesterfield family is searching for answers after their son died in the hospital three days after suffering a medical emergency at Providence Middle School.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 3:43 AM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - A Virginia family is searching for answers after their 13-year-old son died in the hospital three days after suffering a medical emergency at his middle school.

Karina Nolasco showed WWBT on Wednesday the memories she holds close of her son, 13-year-ols Josue Chavez Nolasco. Inside a box are the pictures her daughter drew for Josue and his last heartbeats in the hospital. She says her son was lovable and took care of his family, especially his sister.

Nolasco says she got a call last Wednesday that Josue, a 7th grade student, suffered a medical emergency during lunch at Providence Middle School in Chesterfield. She was at work, but Josue’s father, Lee, rushed to the hospital.

“A little later, he called me and said you have to come because Josue is bad,” said Nolasco through a translator.

When she arrived at the hospital, Nolasco was told Josue choked on a meatball while eating his lunch at school. Originally, doctors said he went 20 minutes without oxygen to his brain but found out more during exams.

“They did blood tests, and the doctor told me the child didn’t have 20 minutes without oxygen to his brain. It was 40 minutes,” Nolasco said.

For the next three days, Nolasco says their family stayed by Josue’s bedside.

“He wasn’t conscious, and I told him, ‘Papi, here’s mom. Mom’s here.’ His tears started coming out, and that’s what broke me,” she said. “I wanted to spend the majority of the time staying with him, kissing him, touching his hands.”

Josue died Saturday.

His parents say they don’t want to blame anyone for this incident but would like to get more information, including the timeline of events.

“We want to avoid this happening in other schools and that no parents have to go through what we’re going through,” Nolasco said.

Chesterfield Fire and EMS gave WWBT the following timeline about the medical call: They arrived on scene at 11:20 a.m. and rushed the victim to the hospital, where he arrived at 11:35 a.m.

Police say a school resource officer also rendered aid to Josue.

Josue’s parents are hoping to spearhead change to prevent other parents from experiencing their heartbreak.

“Take care of your children because I don’t want anyone else to go through what we went through,” Nolasco said.

A GoFundMe page set up to help the family with funeral and memorial expenses has raised more than $10,000.

The family says the school system is looking further into the incident.