William Jones told his mum he had a sore throat and a cough. Just three days later she found him unresponsive.

Rebecca Rollason says she’s still trying to come to terms with such harmless symptoms led to her 16-year-old son’s death last month.

“As you can imagine we just don’t understand and cannot believe he is gone,” Rebecca told the NZ Herald.

“It feels like the worst nightmare that we cannot wake from.”

The usually fit and healthy teen, who was a popular student, started to get a sore throat and cough on June 11.

A couple of days later, Rebecca called the doctor, and was told it was the flu, and to give William plenty of fluids and to call back in a couple of days if she was still concerned.

But on June 14, she went to check on him, and found him unresponsive in bed.

“We just don’t understand how this can happen to a boy who was barely ever sick and was very healthy,” she said.

“We ask ourselves how what started as a sore throat, snotty nose and a cough on Tuesday to no longer with us three days later.

“No one understands, we don’t know what happened. We have to wait for results.”

Teen's unexpected death

Family friends have now set up a fundraiser to help Rebecca with her other two sons and allow her time to grieve.

Australians warned to high flu season

Meanwhile in Australia, we’re being warned to protect ourselves against the flu, as cases continue to rise.

NSW Health Executive Director of Health Protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty said in the week ending 15 June 2024, there was an increase of 33 per cent in people diagnosed with influenza compared with the previous week.

“The high level of flu activity is concerning, and we expect this to continue in the coming weeks. Influenza is more serious than the common cold. It can cause pneumonia, make chronic underlying medical conditions like diabetes, lung and heart disease much worse requiring hospital admission and causing death.

“Complications can occur in anyone but are most likely in those at higher risk of severe illness.

“Vaccination is the best protection against infection and severe disease. Everyone, but particularly those at higher risk of severe disease, is urged to get their influenza vaccination now; it’s not too late to get vaccinated. By getting vaccinated you also help protect those around you.”

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  • That would have been devastating for them.


  • How heartbreaking:(


  • I do hope this poor mum finds out what caused this terrible outcome for her teenage son. It is so unusual to die in 3 days from any cause other than a road accident. There must have been some underlying problem that had never been picked up. Do hope she and her other two sons are coping.


  • This is so incredibly sad and heartbreaking. I hope they receive some reason for closure and understanding.


  • That’s awful! I wonder what he had- clearly wasn’t the flu


  • This is heartbreaking, such a sad story


  • What a devastating tragedy. This poor women must be hurting so much. May she find comfort and answers soon. Praying for her.


  • My condolences – this would be horrific.


  • Oh this is such a very sad story. Poor family


  • Oh this is so sad. Sincerest condolences to the family. :(


  • Heartbreaking for the poor family.


  • Oh my gosh!! I will forever be freaking out every time someone in my family has a cold and cough. This is so so sad.


  • How frightening! We have already had our flu vaccinations.


  • Just awful for her. Life is so precious.

    • Yes, life is so precious indeed !


  • How devastating for her. My condolences to her whole family on their tragic loss


  • How horrible. Such an innocuous list of ailments, you wouldn’t expect death


  • How terribly sad ! I can totally imagine their unbelieve ! How could this happen ? It’s rare that healthy teens get other problems from the flu. I suspect there was an underlaying health concern which was maybe not detected. My thoughts go out to the family & loved ones to this boy


  • This is terribly sad. I hope the family can get answers, give them some closure in such a heartbreaking situation. Vaccinations are important. We all get our flu shots, parents and baby.


  • This is such a sad story and outcome for that family.


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