AP Exchange: Washoe’s youngest virus victim, 18, died alone

RENO, Nevada (AP) – Ian McElhaney asked his brother at least a dozen times what he wanted for his birthday.

The 18-year-old, who liked video games and dreamed of becoming a police officer, was going to use the money he saved to work in a neighbor's yard to buy Charles Koons the best birthday present.


It didn't matter that it was all the money he had. Ian it was always the boy who put everyone first.

"I kept telling him: & # 39; I don't need anything. I just want to see you & # 39; & # 39; said Charles Ian on Monday, April 20. They had been removed from each other in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

"You are taking care of yourself, right?" Charles asked. Ian it sounded like he had a stuffy nose. Charles, who was 29, was a little concerned.


Diagnosed with diabetes when he was 9, Ian fought. He was in a coma for a week, a few years ago, after his blood sugar dropped very low. He also had seizures.

“But he always recovered. Always, ”said Charles.


Ian insisted that he was fine.

Three days later, IanThe lungs would be taken by the coronavirus. When paramedics arrived at his home, he was not breathing. He went into cardiac arrest. At the hospital, he tested positive for COVID-19.

Ian he was removed from life support on April 23, after doctors said he was brain dead.


Her family said goodbye in a Zoom chat room created by nurses in the Renown Regional Medical Center Intensive Care Unit.


"I begged him not to go," said Charles. "So, I told him I loved him."

Making everyone feel better was what Ian tried to do in the days and weeks after his mother's death.

Ian mother, Jana McElhaney died on January 26 of head injuries in an alleged domestic violence attack in Virginia City. Her husband for about a year, William Collier, is in prison on charges of murder in connection with his death. He is due to be indicted in June.

Ian he wanted to make sure that his younger brother, Aden, 14, was fine. He cared about his older brother Aaron, 20. He tried to comfort his sister, Nikkie Holliday, who flew from Cincinnati to Virginia City to help bury his mother. And Charles flew from Los Angeles to stay and help care for his brothers.

Ian, who was described by his brothers as shy but brilliant, felt guilty about his mother's death.

“He felt responsible for seeing things (Collier) at home. Of course, it wasn't his fault, but he wished he could have stopped things, ”said Charles.

Jana McElhaney's five children asked for support from each other, promising to be involved in causes of domestic violence.

Ian and Aden moved from living with her mother in Virginia City to living with her father in Reno.

Aaron and Charles got an apartment together.

But they were healing.

"It was us against the world," said Charles.

The brothers agreed that everyone would be together for Christmas at older sister Nikkie's house in Cincinnati.

Christmas was special for their mother, and the first after her death would be difficult.

Nikkie planned to make an ornament for everyone, just like her mother did every year.

"My mother's death was difficult, but she had a chance to live it," said Nikkie. "My brother doesn't have a chance. None of us see him grow up. He doesn't fall in love and has a family."

Nikkie, who works at a veteran's hospital, says she is frustrated that some are not taking the coronavirus seriously.

"We still don't know much about this virus," she said. "One day you are fine and the next day you are not. One day Ian he was fine and the next day he was not. "

Her father, Brett McElhaney, said Ian had none of the typical symptoms.

"No fever," he said. "Her symptoms looked like gastrointestinal and looked like diabetes."

His father has no idea where he may have contracted the virus. Ian younger brother also tested positive. Ian father tested negative.

Nikkie talked to Ian just a few days before he died.

"He was fighting with Aden and I was just saying he he had to get along, ”said Nikkie.

"Things will get better when the quarantine is over," she told him

Ian he was excited to join Job Corps, a professional training program for young adults, in May. He was studying to get his driver's license.

"He was very good," said the father, letting him practice driving a few times.

AND Ian he was talking more and more about becoming a police officer.

Charles thinks it was because Ian saw good law enforcement when he had medical emergencies and how the police helped the family after his mother's death.

"I kept saying he he I could do that, ”said Nikkie. "Don't let anything stop you."

Aden, Charles and Aaron rushed to Renown while paramedics tried to save their brother's life.

They could only wait outside the hospital – no visitors were allowed to stop the coronavirus from spreading.

Nikkie prayed for a miracle.

Charles, Aaron and Aden, paralyzed with fear, did not believe doctors when they said there was little chance Ian would survive.

"We just hoped they were wrong," said Aaron.

"If we could have been there, none of us would have left his side," said Charles. “We are afraid that he will feel alone.

"We pray that our mother was there with him."

They hope there will be an answer to their brother's death:

"I hope people start taking it seriously," said Charles. "You don't know what it's like to watch your brother die on the computer screen."

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