Rick Valdes said he and his ex-wife, Chris’ mom, want other families to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis, even if it saves one life. “Right now I’m going through a lot of mourning. A little part in the back of my mind is angry,” he said. “I feel they were negligent,” he said.
Classes resumed Monday at Coral Reef, the Southwest Miami-Dade magnet school where Chris Valdes was among the 3,200 students. Many students wore black in his memory and gathered in the courtyard for a lunch time memorial. They held hands in a circle around a statue of the school’s barracuda mascot.
On Sunday, health officials held an open house for parents and students. Monday morning, the health department’s top administrator gave a prevention message — wash your hands, and don’t share drinks — over the public-address system.
While many people who are exposed to the meningococcal germ do not get sick, some show symptoms, which can include fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck and a rash.
Rivera said many people who had contact with the student have received preventative treatment from private doctors and at local hospitals.
Valdes was known as an athlete and a gifted student. He worked part time at a Winn-Dixie and wanted to become an attorney, his dad said. He was a die-hard fan of the University of Miami and loved the Miami Dolphins.
“He always wanted the underdog to win,” said Jovanna Esdaile, a friend and classmate. “He was funny. He was quiet, but once you got to know him, his personality shined through.”
Said his father: “His only fault was he was too good. I think that’s why they took him away.”
The family is planning a private funeral service.