Local family mourning the loss of 6-year-old boy who died of an asthma attack

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VERMILION, Ohio - The Vermilion community is mourning the death of 6-year-old Xander Cormier, who died after suffering an asthma attack. His family thinks pollen may be to blame.

Xander was a kindergartner at Vermilion Elementary School who loved reading and science experiments, and, more than anything, his family said Xander loved superheroes. The school held “superhero day” Tuesday in Xander’s honor. Students and staff wore superhero clothing.

Xander had just arrived home from the school bus stop Thursday when his family said he started wheezing. His mother, Emily, grabbed Xander’s inhaler and tried an epi-pen, but he went limp. Xander was taken to a local hospital where a nurse detected a faint pulse, and then flown to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, but he was unresponsive to tests for brain activity. He was removed from machines and passed away Sunday.

Jeff Cormier, Xander’s father, said his son had a history of asthma and allergies, which they had been treating. However, Xander had never before had any episodes that were as serious. Cormier said he feels a gust of wind carrying pollen may have sparked the asthma attack. Pollen was a trigger for Xander’s asthma.

The Vermilion community rallied to support the family. Beanie’s Laundry, located just down the street from the Cormiers’ home, posted a sign out front saying “Xander is our super hero.” A Go Fund Me account established to help pay funeral and medical expenses had raised nearly $20,000 by Tuesday evening.

Cormier said the family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support, but nothing can make up for just five more minutes with Xander. A superhero-themed funeral service is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at Riddle Funeral Home in Vermilion.

Xander’s kindergarten teacher, Rebecca Lawson says the loss has been incredibly upsetting for both students and staff at Vermillion Elementary School.

“They’re all processing the loss and really missing Xander in all sorts of different ways,” said Lawson.

Along with the “superhero day” professionals at the school have been talking with students and allowing them to talk about their feelings and what the loss means to them.

“One of the things the kids continually said is what a good friend he was,” said Lawson, “And that was so true for Xander he would go out of his way if there was anybody in need.”

Every teacher who knew Xander said that he was an “exceptional child” who was not only kind but “brilliant academically” with aspirations of becoming an inventor.

Educators and administrators are already talking about getting a “buddy bench” at the school to honor Xander’s memory because he was always a buddy to everyone; especially children who didn’t have many friends.

Lolita McDavid, M.D., with University Hospitals’ Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital said a severe asthma attack can cause lung spasms that may result in cardiac arrest. She said it can happen quickly, leading to death.

“Asthma is a serious, serious disease. It's the most common chronic disease in childhood and we're seeing more and more of it,” McDavid said. “You have to know what your triggers are.”

McDavid said she recommends parents see an asthma specialist who can develop a plan and prescribe control and rescue medications.

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