Virus kills 5-year-old child of Detroit firefighter, officer

DETROIT (AP) — A husband and wife who have jointly devoted decades to fighting crime and saving lives in Detroit lost their 5-year-old daughter to COVID-19 — Michigan’s youngest victim in the coronavirus pandemic.

Skylar Herbert died Sunday from complications due to the virus.

Even in Detroit, where more than 600 people have died from the virus, Skylar’s death brought an especially biting pain.

Mayor Mike Duggan called her “a real daughter of the city of Detroit” and told reporters that Monday was one of the “saddest” of many sad days during the crisis.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opened her daily briefing with a tribute to Skylar’s mother, LaVondria Herbert, who has been a Detroit police officer for 25 years, and Skylar’s father, Ebbie, a firefighter of 18 years.

“They’ve been on the front line and they’ve served with honor and integrity,” Whitmer said. “They did not deserve to lose their child to this virus. Nobody does.”

Skylar was one of 47 Detroit residents to die due to the virus over the past three days. The city on Monday had 7,736 confirmed coronavirus cases and 629 deaths.

She’s the youngest in Michigan to die due to the virus, according to data collected by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The other victims in Michigan ranged from 20 to 107 years old.

Whitmer and Duggan both said Skylar’s death underlines the need to continue to exercise strict social distancing.

“I know that there are many prices that are being paid right now,” Whitmer said. “But the price of losing your child or your father or mother — any loved one — that’s what’s really at stake here.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. But it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, for some people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.

Coronavirus infections leading to death are unusual among children.

“The loss of a child, at any time, under any circumstances, is a tragedy,” Beaumont Hospital said in a statement.

Skylar died in the Royal Oak hospital.

“We are heartbroken that COVID-19 has taken the life of a child,” Beaumont’s statement continued. “We extend our deepest sympathy to Skylar’s family and all others who have lost a loved one to this virus.”

Condolences from around the Detroit area also were posted on social media.

“There are no words to express how deeply saddened we are by the passing of our beloved member Skylar Herbert. Skylar touched our hearts with her cheerful spirit and brightened our Sundays with her smile,” Metropolitan Church of God said on Facebook.


Eggert reported from Lansing, Michigan.