He worked hard, played clean, kept his communication at a level his mother would be proud of, supported his team without complaining. A truly remarkable young man. —Bryan Hopkins, coach
PROVO — Timpview High School sophomore Parker McKay Allred was a big, healthy boy.
At 16, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Parker excelled at both football and water polo.
But on Jan. 25, Parker began feeling ill with a fever. Within days he was just a "skeleton of his former self," according to a blog by his sister, Madison Allred.
Early Saturday morning — just one week later — Parker died, reportedly from a combination of a staph infection and the flu, leaving an entire community in disbelief over his rapid and tragic decline.
"That's the shocking thing, this great big 200-pound kid, great athlete, swimmer, football player, just a totally health kid a week ago," said one of his football coaches, Bryan Hopkins.
Saturday night, hundreds of classmates, teammates, friends and family members gathered at the high school, 3570 N. 650 East, to pay tribute and mourn Parker's loss. They placed blue ribbons around the school to remember the "blue eyed boy," as his family called him.
"He was that rare kid that never did anything to disappoint me on the field or off the field," said Hopkins. "I never had a situation where I was mad at him or disappointed at him, he just always worked hard."
Parker's condition quickly deteriorated when he collapsed while in the lobby of InstaCare when his parents took him to get evaluated. A short time later he was flown by medical helicopter to Primary Children's Medical Center, according to his sister.
Madison Allred has been keeping a blog to update others on her brother's condition. On Friday she wrote, "We know that the main issue here was the staph infection, but this was aggravated by the flu. Previously his body had been doing its job in fighting off the staph infection, until the flu was added to the mix.
"With all of this strain, his body was eventually losing to the bacteria of the staph infection and he now went into sepsis," she said. "The main thing is that Parker's life is on the line. Since he is not showing any improvement, it begs the question whether or not he will ever show improvement. Right now, the view is bleak. He is only being kept alive by these machines, and he is being kept sedated."
Parker died at 3 a.m. Saturday. Initial plans for funeral services are scheduled for next Saturday.
Hopkins said Parker was quiet and never tried to call attention to himself on the field. Instead, he led by example — both on and off the field.
"He worked hard, played clean, kept his communication at a level his mother would be proud of, supported his team without complaining. A truly remarkable young man," he said.
"He always gave 100 percent," said 15-year-old teammate Jacob Hopkins. "He definitely got people motivated."
"I'm still kind of shocked," said Corton Greenhalgh, 16, who said the last time he saw Parker was at school and it seemed just like any other day.
Tributes were also left on a Facebook page established Saturday in memory of Parker.
"Parker is the nicest guy I have ever met. Whenever I saw him, no doubt he would have a smile on his face. He knew how to make other people smile and laugh. He was an amazing kid," wrote Lexi Ann Roberts.
"Such a sweet kid! Always had a smile, and knew how to make ANYONE'S day. I will miss him, and I know every one else will too. We love you Parker. God be with you 'til we meet again," wrote ToyelleDebra Salmon.
Another classmate, Nicole Sellers, wrote, "Parker was in my drama class at Timpview High School. He was always so funny and made everyone laugh. I am in shock to think that now the desk in the back corner will be empty. Parker always made drama class so fun. He was amazing at acting. We love Parker. God be with you 'til we meet again."
A second Facebook page, apparently set up by his football teammates, was set up Saturday afternoon. They encouraged everyone to dress in their Sunday best on Monday at school and wear No. 90, Parker's jersey number, at his funeral next Saturday.
According to the Utah Department of Health, cases of influenza-like illness for last week were high in Salt Lake, Utah and Davis counties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported for Jan. 20-26: "influenza activity remained elevated in the United States, but decreased in some areas."
Since Sept. 1, the CDC reported those over 65 years old were the most affected group in the nation, and most hospitalizations were due to influenza A.
"The most commonly reported underlying medical conditions in hospitalized children were asthma, neurological disorders, chronic lung disease and immune suppression. Forty-three percent of hospitalized children had no identified underlying medical condition," the CDC reported.