Duval County

Family: 1-year-old Jacksonville girl died days before Christmas

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville family tells Action News Jax a 1-year-old girl died days before Christmas.

They shared photos of Zerena, a happy baby girl with a big smile and bright blue eyes.

“I never thought a baby would have the same gap as their dad and she was just so beautiful,” Zerena’s aunt Stephane Juymohan said.

She told Action News Jax reporter Brittney Donovan that she got a call from her brother on Dec. 21.

”He was so hysterical. He started crying and he was telling me his baby had died,” she said. “I asked what happened and he said she had a fever. She went to sleep with a fever and she didn’t wake up.”

Zerena’s mom said she was too distraught to talk on camera. She said in a text that she had wanted to take Zerena to the hospital the night before and wishes she had.

“Gave her some Motrin, put her in the bath, then laid her down and then she went to sleep,” Juymohan said.

Zerena’s mom said the bath had helped her fever come down and that she was still moving around at 4:30 a.m. when they left her with family to head out of town for a quick trip.

“They found her at 8 a.m. ... She stopped breathing around 5ish was their estimate,” she said in a text. “The paramedics came and pronounced her gone. We got the call and turned around and came back to Jax but they already took her by the time we got back.”

“What we’re thinking is that it was the flu,” Juymohan said. “Because she wasn’t sick at all. Then she got sick one day then went to sleep with a fever and didn’t wake up.”

Action News Jax asked the health department if they got word of a child who died because of the flu. A spokesperson said no cases have been reported in Duval County.

The spokesperson said with similar deaths, a different reportable illness may have caused it.

We requested the autopsy report from the medical examiner’s office. They said it’s not finished yet.

“Babies, they don’t have all the stuff we have to help fight off infections or bacteria or colds,” family friend Ashley Snyder said.

She and family members are now sharing a warning.

“Any child, any adult that gets sick, they need to go to the ER immediately because you never know,” Snyder said.

Family said services are planned for Friday in Neptune Beach: https://www.quinn-shalz.com/notices/Zerena-Rocco

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