E. coli victim family thankful for support

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Ronan Wilson came into the world too soon, born 12 weeks early.

He left in the same way, too soon.

Ronan, 4, died April 8 at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Ore. His death came after his body was overtaken by E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, which he contracted at his child care center.

In an interview with The Columbian, his parents, Bonnie and Anthony Wilson, said they’ve received a huge outpouring of support from the community. But the family also wishes the Clark County Health Department would have made a public announcement sooner so doctors and parents would have been more vigilant.

The first child at the center tested positive March 19. When Bonnie first took Ronan to see a doctor March 29, even though she mentioned a child had E. coli, the doctor assumed Ronan had the flu.

“We don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Bonnie said. “My goal is to tell Ronan’s story and make it known that he mattered.”

Clark County health officer Dr. Alan Melnick said he didn’t shut down Fletch Family Daycare until April 2 out of concern that other parents who used the facility could take their children to different day cares and risk exposing others.

Melnick’s decision to close the facility came after tests showed seven more children and staff with no symptoms tested positive for the E. coli strain.

“This is really tragic and we’re certainly concerned about the kids who were hospitalized, but we’re also concerned about keeping this from spreading to other parts of the community,” Melnick said April 10.

The strain involved, E. coli O157:H7, is best known for its role in large outbreaks traced to ground beef or produce. However, person-to-person transmission can be a problem in day-care settings or nursing homes. In some cases, especially in young children, infection can lead to life-threatening complications.

Bonnie Wilson told The Columbian her son loved attending the center, as did his older brother, Gavin.

“I feel like she’s family,” she said of Dianne Fletch, one of the center operators. “I really think they did their best.”

Bonnie Wilson said her son had overcome being born premature and many of the colds and ear infections he suffered in his early years. Ronan loved trains, dinosaurs and dragons but was particularly fond of monkeys. When he went to a Build-A-Bear store and spotted a monkey, he knew right away that’s what he wanted.

“That was just his personality. He was very strong-willed,” Bonnie Wilson said.

Ronan arrived at Doernbecher on April 1, four days after first seeing a doctor. The E. coli first attacked Ronan’s kidneys, and he was put on dialysis. He had colon surgery April 3 and never woke up again.

Brain scans showed the bacteria had attacked his brain, and Ronan’s parents were told that if he did recover, he’d be physically disabled and brain-damaged.

Then Ronan’s brain began swelling. Ultimately, his parents were faced with the decision whether to crack open their son’s skull and allow the brain room to keep swelling or to say goodbye.

His parents are going forward. Bonnie says she allows herself to be angry and to cry, but she’s surprised herself with her strength.

“Ronan was an old soul,” she said. “He had a wiseness in his eyes.”

“Nobody knows their destiny,” she added. “But I think he knew he had to take in everything while he could. I think everyone should take that lesson.”

Information from: The Columbian, www.columbian.com

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Mt. Pilchuck covered in snow is barely visible through the clouds as the sun breaks through illuminating raindrops as they fall off of the Mountain Loop Highway on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Active’ weather brings rain, snow, hail, fresh powder to Snohomish County

Up to an inch of snow could accumulate in the lowlands. Three inches of rain could fall in Darrington. And Stevens Pass is “doing quite well.”

Joanne Fisher, right, a meat wrapper with the Marysville Albertsons, hands a leaflet to a shopper during an informational campaign on  Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. Fisher was one of about a dozen grocery store workers handing out leaflets to shoppers about the proposed merger between Albertsons and Kroger. (Mike Henneke / The Herald)
US sues to block merger of grocery giants Kroger, Albertsons

Grocery workers in Snohomish County and elsewhere have argued the merger would stymie competition and hurt workers.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee during its meeting on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, where the panel indicated it would not move ahead with legislation to cap residential rent increases at 7%. The move effectively killed the bill for the 2024 legislative session. (Bill Lucia/Washington State Standard)
Plan for 7% statewide cap on rent increases fails in Olympia

State Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett, told reporters the bill did not have enough support to move it forward.

People look out onto Mountain Loop Mine from the second floor hallway of Fairmount Elementary on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mining company ordered to stop work next to school south of Everett

After operating months without the right paperwork, OMA Construction applied for permits last week. The county found it still violates code.

Shoppers cross Alderwood Mall Parkway after leaving the mall and walking through its parking lot on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lynnwood police seek 3 suspects after pursuit, brief shootout

The driver of a stolen car intentionally hit a teen boy Sunday, officers said. Police pursued the suspects near I-5.

Starbucks employee Zach Gabelein outside of the Mill Creek location where he works on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘We cannot keep up’: Mill Creek Starbucks workers file for unionization

The cafe’s crew joins the ranks of the 624 stores nationwide, including two other locations in Snohomish County.

The Nimbus Apartments are pictured on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County has the highest rent in the state. Could this bill help?

In one year, rent for the average two-bedroom apartment in Snohomish County went up 20%. A bill seeks to cap any increases at 7%.

The Westwood Rainier is one of the seven ships in the Westwood line. The ships serve ports in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast Asia. (Photo provided by Swire Shipping)
Westwood Shipping Lines, an Everett mainstay, has new name

The four green-hulled Westwood vessels will keep their names, but the ships will display the Swire Shipping flag.

A Snohomish County no trespassing sign hangs on a fence surrounding the Days Inn on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Meth cleanup at Edmonds motel-shelter made matters worse, report says

Contamination has persisted at two motels Snohomish County bought to turn into shelters in 2022. In January, the county cut ties with two cleanup agencies.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.