The reemergence of COVID-19 has claimed a young victim in Liberty County – a 12-year-old boy from Dayton who had no known underlying medical conditions.
Ryland Daic was the picture of good health until COVID-19 caused a sudden and dramatic change on Tuesday, according to his mother, Casey Castorina of Dayton.
“He declined quickly. It doesn’t feel real right now. I keep thinking this is a nightmare I will wake up from,” Casey told Bluebonnet News.
Ryland had been staying with his father, Kene Daic, during the summer break, enjoying all the typical things that country boys do – playing with his ducks and chickens, fishing and playing with Airsoft guns.
“He was all boy. He was the definition of a country boy. He was an old soul in a little body,” Casey said.
Last Thursday, Ryland complained to his mother that he and his Pawpaw were experiencing typical symptoms of a cold. He was sniffling and sneezing, but was otherwise in good health. Casey continued to call him each day to check on his condition. Through the following Monday, his symptoms remained pretty much the same, except for him running a slight fever and complaining of a headache.
“He was still up and running. In fact, he even made a TikTok video on Monday. On Tuesday, I called him again and all he could do was whisper. I called my sister, who is a 911 dispatcher, and said, ‘I need help. Ryland is sick,'” she recalls.
Casey picked up Ryland and took him to an emergency clinic where they reportedly were advised to take him to the Houston Medical Center for treatment.
“They couldn’t do anything for him. He was so sick that we had to take him in the clinic by wheelchair,” she said.
Once he arrived at Hermann Memorial’s Children Hospital, Ryland’s condition was grave. Doctors immediately assessed his condition and put him in a medically-induced coma.
“They ended up putting him on life support. His lungs had filled with fluid from COVID. The doctors and nurses did everything they could for him but he died on Tuesday,” she said. “It was stupid fast.”
On Thursday, instead of taking her son to start sixth grade at Woodrow Wilson Junior High in Dayton, Casey and her husband, Keith, were at Pace-Stancil Funeral Home in Dayton making his funeral arrangements.
“There is no rhyme or reason for this. No explanation whatsoever. My child was healthy until he wasn’t,” she said.
The youngest of four brothers, Ryland was the heartbeat of the family. He dreamed of following in his brother Dolen’s footsteps by joining the military and becoming a Marine.
“He is being buried in the fatigues we bought for him. Dolen gave him a nametag from when he was in the Army, and we are burying that with him,” Casey said.
With his passing comes the realization of all of the lives he touched, his mom said.
“Everyone who knew Ryland, whether they knew him for a minute or a year, he left a mark in their lives. It’s undeniable. You know, you don’t always realize that until something tragic like this happens. It’s insane how much of an impact he had in such a short life,” she said. “We could all hope to have such an impact in life.”
When asked how she is staying strong, Casey said she believes the shock hasn’t worn off yet.
“I think it’s going to hit me when the clock hits 4:30 every day. That was about the time that Ryland would message me to say, ‘Mom, what’s for dinner?’ I could always count on him messaging me to ask about dinner,” she said. “He also messaged me every time I walked out of the house to say he loved me. He was a very sweet boy.”
His stepfather, Keith, who has been in his life since he was very young, said Ryland’s attitude and laughter were infectious.
“You couldn’t help but be in a good mood and be silly right along with him,” he said.
Casey said that while donations to Go Fund Me account are greatly appreciated, she also is encouraging donations in her son’s name to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
“Those doctors and nurses, even the firefighters and paramedics, are dealing with this illness. This is destroying them, too. They take these losses personally and are living with it, too,” she said.