LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – A high school community in Littleton is heartbroken after a teenager died on Monday night. His father says he died because of an allergic reaction to peanuts.
Chatfield High School brought in extra counselors to help students cope with the loss of 16-year-old Simon Katz, who was rushed to the hospital after eating s’mores containing peanuts at school.
Simon Katz’s father, David Katz, told CBS4’s Shaun Boyd one of Simon’s favorite treats was s’mores. But the one he ate in the Chatfield High parking lot at a homecoming event was made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and it caused him to go into anaphylactic shock.
David Katz said Simon had a severe peanut allergy and carried an EpiPen in his car, but he was driven to the school by friends.
Jefferson County Schools says there was an emergency medical technician at the homecoming event but Katz’s friends took him home when he began vomiting. His father said he rushed him to a nearby emergency room, giving him shots with his EpiPen as he drove and giving him CPR in the parking lot of the hospital.
Parmedics took Katz to St. Anthony Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Among many Facebook posts was one from a band Katz played in. It said, “We are absolutely heartbroken … this band would be nothing without you and you made it what it is.”
CBS4’s Stan Bush spoke with his band members, Alex Sutton and Elias Williamson, about the loss.
“He was the most high energy person I’ve ever met … he had a stage presence,” Sutton said.
“It’s really hard dealing with knowing that a wonderful person can go for something that’s as little as a peanut allergy,” Williamson said. “He’s just such a different person … people from all over the country said there is something about him … and there is something that inspired me about that kid.”
One expert told CBS4 while food allergy deaths are rare, teenagers are at highest risk.
“Teenagers are absolutely a higher risk for death from their food allergies. That can be for a couple of reasons. Certainly one of those we think is because they get a little less careful, so they’re not as good about asking what might be in a food; they sometimes take a few more risks and try things that they shouldn’t be eating,” Dr. BJ Lanser with National Jewish Health said. “And they are also less likely to carry their epinephrine.”
More than 3 million people in the United States have some form of nut allergy and the prevalence of food allergies in children went up 18 percent between 1997 and 2007. About 200 people a year die from food allergies.
The Jefferson County Coroner is doing an autopsy to determine if anything else played a role in Katz’s death.
Chatfield High will hold a moment of silence in Katz’s honor at the upcoming homecoming football game.
His peanut allergy kept Katz from touring with his band over the summer. He had also laid down tracks for an entire album. His band says they’ll work to finish it in his memory.