WASHINGTON, Mo. — He was just 13 years old.
Funny, sweet, kind, and known as her little buddy. That's what Stephanie Franek says about her 13-year-old son, Peyton Baumgarth, an eighth-grader at Washington Middle School.
"Right now, I feel completely and utterly broken and numb and I would do anything to trade places with him," Franek said. "I don't even know how to take a breath, let alone get through the next days and weeks and months and years without him."
Less than two weeks ago, Baumgarth had his last day of school on Oct. 22. He then quarantined that Monday on Oct. 26.
His mom says she tested positive on the Oct. 26 with mild symptoms.
Baumgarth was presumed positive.
"He just wasn't getting better and his condition was getting much worse," she said.
He then went to the hospital on Thursday. Two days later, Baumgarth passed away.
"There's no reason why he shouldn't be here and I should. I don't know why it affected him that much worse," she added.
Franek said it's hard to understand how this happened since she says he had no underlying medical conditions.
"Nothing that I don't have and nothing that would give any explanation for it," she added.
But what she does know is her message to the world is loud and clear.
"Wear a mask when you're in public, wash your hands, and know that COVID-19 is real," she said.
She hopes her son can be a reminder for you that life is precious.
"Hug the people that you love, hug them tight, tell them you love them spend as much time as you can with your loved ones, because you never know when it's going to be your last," an emotional Franek said.
A spokesperson from Washington Middle School said the school will provide counselors for children when they return to in-person class on Wednesday.
If you'd like to help the family, a GoFundMe is set up with medical costs and funeral costs. Click here to donate.