A family’s anguish: COVID claims life of 12-year-old Dayton boy

Ryland Daic, 12, of Dayton, is one of the young victims of COVID-19. He died this week after a short bout with the illness.

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.


#foryoupage#fyp I got military boots bought another pair thes where used in the military befor I bought them

♬ original sound – im a bird and im crazy

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.

Ryland’s family members have set up a Go Fund Me account to help with funeral expenses. Click here for the Go Fund Me account.

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.


  1. Thank you so much for covering ryland’s story. It means the world to all of us to have him remembered and memorialized. He was so loved

    • Hi Megan. I work for ABC News in New York. Did you know Ryland? Do you know his family? As someone who has children, I can’t imagine your loss. We would like to share his story and would like to know from his family how he would like to be remembered. Please let me know how I can contact you

      • Hi Kristen, My friend is his grandmother. Can you please send contact information so I can forward to her? Thank you Lindy Helmer

  2. He will be missed for sure, I will try tomorrow to add something too the go fund me, me and Alex love you guys and hopes God heals all the pain yall are in.

  3. I am so very sorry for your kiss. Ryland was,a good friend of my nephew, george henry jones. I didnt know ryland well, but when he came over to play with henry, he was akways polite. My nephew is devastated and he is,processing everything. My thoughts and prayers go to rylands family.

  4. My God I’m literally crying now..so heartbreaking I could not imagine..I’m scared to death to even send my girls to school this year..praying for your family and this world

  5. My Condolences to the family of Ryland May he rest in peace forever and I pray your family finds peace as well. If anything Ryland can leave a message To everyone who doesn’t have the COVID-19 shot. That this disease does not carry a name nor does it it has a age. This Disease is real it’s not fake it’s obvious that children at a young age can get it this young man who is only 12 years old so anybody that has 12 years and above children and can receive the shot do it in honor of Ryland It’s just me save somebody’s life. God bless you Ryland and God bless your family.
    In the name of Jesus amen

  6. My prayers are with you and your family may GOD be with you always. He was a precious wonderful little man. You will be missed .❤🙏😥

    • Please be careful with your words because you do not know if him being vaccinated would have saved his life. A story on the news featured a family who was having to bury their child that died from the vaccine so every parent has to decide for themselves. To the family of this little man I am so sorry for your loss. I can not imagine your heartache and will pray that God will send you peace and comfort. To the commenting community try to imagine how you would feel if you had to walk in the shoes of these parents before you comment.

    • Todd N Rose – Inappropriate beyond all reason! This family is grieving and you have the audacity to bring up a vaccine?

      • Someone up above actually asked for the story to be shared. I don’t think this person in particular meant any disrespect. It was a far better comment than the person who demanded to know “why” this beautiful child wasn’t vaccinated…😞 Some ppl have no compassion at all…

      • Oh, my mistake, James Klingsmill, your comment WAS directed at the rude commenters. I thought it was too John for posting the news stories. My apologies.

        So sorry for the loss of this beautiful child.😢 I didn’t even know him or his family, yet my heart is still breaking for them all.

        I hope they can find some strength and comfort in one another in the difficult days ahead.

  7. TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the death of a 13-year-old boy who died days after getting his second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan, according to reports. The boy, Jacob Clynick, had no known underlying medical conditions, according to his family.

    • RE: Jacob Clynick:

      “”The CDC investigation was confirmed by the county health department. The medical examiner performed an autopsy, although a cause of death has not been determined.

      “The investigation as to whether there is a correlation between his death and vaccination is now at the federal level with CDC,” the Saginaw County Health Department Medical Director told the Free Press in a statement.”

      Where does it say the vaccine was his confirmed cause of death? I missed it.

  8. Look I am not here to argue with you or debate the vaccine safety or effectiveness. Everyone has to choose if they are comfortable with the vaccine or not. If my children were still this age I would definitely say no to the vaccine. There has not been enough research or testing done on the vaccine and no one knows what possible side effects it will have. Most vaccines that are given to our children were tested for many years. I would not be comfortable if it was my child. My mom was given her first vaccine and her body immediately went into shock to the point of being hospitalized. Prior to that my Dad received both vaccines and a month later ended up with Covid. My first comment was in response to
    Todd and Rose “Why wasn’t this poor kid vaccinated? He would be alive today if he had been vaccinated.”

    I thought it was a hurtful thing to say given the circumstances. I usually don’t comment on things and stay quite but had I been the parents of this child and had to read something so thoughtless it would have broke my heart. Basically to make a long story short if you can’t say something decent then keep your mouth shut.

  9. Perfectly healthy? The kid has asthma according to different news and The Harris County Medical Examiner has not yet determined an official cause of death.

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