Family says 7-year-old died of complications from flu

WALTON COUNTY, Ga. — A Walton County family is mourning after they say their 7-year-old daughter died of complications from the flu.

Emily Maddox’s family believes she got the flu last Friday. She spent the week at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.

They said she lost liver and kidney function before dying Thursday from apparent cardiac arrest.

The Walton County School District said Emily was a student at Youth Elementary School. The district sent a letter to parents letting them know about Emily's death, though they couldn't say for sure if it was from the flu until all the test results are in.

"I cried because, actually, she's my best friend. She's my BFF and we always play together on the playground," Emily's classmate, Graclynn Cowart, said.

Channel 2's Richard Elliot spoke to Graclynn with her grandmother's permission.

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School officials said they had grief counselors at the school Friday for students and teachers.

Graclynn's grandmother said having a young girl die from the flu is frightening for everyone.

"It's just scary. It's very scary to know they can go to bed and not wake up," Rita Roberts said.

School officials said they are taking precautions to stop the spread of the virus, including using hospital-grade disinfectant to clean the school multiple times a day.

"We're also communicating with our parents ways that they can help partner with us. We're teaching kids respiratory etiquette and also reminding students to wash their hands as often as possible," school spokesperson Callen Moore said.

Elliot spoke to Emily's grandfather who said they have started a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral expenses. Emily's funeral will be Monday afternoon.