Mum's 'worst nightmare' as teen son dies one day after flu diagnosis

William Jones, 16, had only been complaining of a cough and sore throat. The next day he was found unresponsive.

Rebecca Rollason smiles while sitting down, as two sons William and another squeeze into frame smiling (left) and William Jones smiles at the camera while wearing a jumper and jacket (right).
William Jones, 16, was found unresponsive in his bed after contracting the flu. Source: Givealittle and NZ Herald

The mum of a 16-year-old who was "barely ever sick" is in disbelief after he died one day after the doctor diagnosed him with the flu as cases continue to soar.

William Jones was complaining of a sore throat and cough last month when his mum Rebecca Rollason called the doctor and was informed he likely had the flu, with the doctor reportedly encouraging him to take plenty of fluids, telling his mum to phone back if she was still concerned.

However, the following morning as Rebecca went to check on her son he was found unresponsive in his bed in their Wellington home.

"We ask ourselves how what started as a sore throat, snotty nose and a cough on Tuesday to no longer with us three days later," Rebecca told the NZ Herald. "No one understands, we don't know what happened... it feels like the worst nightmare that we cannot wake from."

Rebecca explained the family have to "wait for results" in the hope they can better understand the teenager's sudden death.

"We just don’t understand how this can happen to a boy who was barely ever sick and was very healthy," she said. "It is an incredibly hard and devastating time for us."

A friend of Rebecca's has set up a fundraising page to relieve the financial pressure on her and William's two brothers while they grieve.

William Jones looks away from the camera inside a home with books and a clock in the background.
The family 'wait for results' of William's sudden death. Source: NZ Herald

Meanwhile, in Australia, authorities are warning people to stay home if they are unwell with the flu as cases spike across the country. Aussie hospitals have been put on high alert and all are being encouraged to get the vaccination as NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said this winter will be a "more severe flu season than usual".

NSW recently recorded a 25 per cent week-on-week surge in cases while Victoria experienced a rise of 28 per cent in the last few weeks.

"Influenza is as dangerous as it's always been — it's more than just a bad cold," Nicole Higgins, president of Royal Australia College of General Practitioners said. "The flu can lead to hospitalisation or even death in at-risk populations like children."

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.