San Antonio teen dies days after flu diagnosis, father now warning others about virus

SAN ANTONIO – On Feb. 7, 15-year-old Precious Angel Hernandez Cantu start to feel sick. Eleven days later, she died.

"I was the first person to hold her. I was the last person to hold her," her father, Steve Cantu, said.

Cantu sat next to his sons Monday, holding his younger daughter as he grieved over his oldest. 

"My little girl was tough. She was fearless. She loved to draw. She was very good at it. She was destined for a lot of good stuff," he said.

When Precious started feeling sick Feb. 7, her parents took her to the doctor immediately. Documents from her family show she had a fever, chills, body aches and exhaustion. They also show she was diagnosed with influenza Type B and went home that day with Tamiflu. Her dad said she did not take the Tamiflu and did not get a flu shot.

By Feb. 10, Cantu said, she was complaining of chest and neck pain, and her mother took her to the hospital. On Feb. 11, Cantu said his daughter's heart stopped and she was placed on life support. She died on Sunday.

"Something shot up on the machine," Cantu said, crying. "The emergency response team came in and I never talked to my daughter again."

Cantu said Precious was active and had no pre-existing conditions.

"It happened so fast. I just don't know. She died. Her heart shut down," he said.

Officials with the Children's Hospital of San Antonio, where Precious was taken, said they cannot comment on her stay there. Metro Health, which reports pediatric flu deaths, cannot report yet whether Precious died from the flu. Officials said they need to investigate the cause of her death and that could take at least a week. 

All Cantu can think of is his daughter, and some painful advice he has for other parents.

"Flu is something to take very seriously. I never thought it would happen to me, to my little girl. If their kids have fevers and getting some symptoms, just take them (to the doctor or hospital.) Even if you think it's nothing," he said.

He also had a plea to his entire community. 

"Please, if you have symptoms, if you're sick, please stay home. Please don't pass it to nobody else. Some kids are not as strong as you," he said. 

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.

Editor's Note: Earlier versions of this story misstated the date of Angel's death. The correct date is reflected above.

See the Department of State Health Services' most recent flu report.

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.