A 9-year-old boy died last week in British Columbia after having an asthma attack during the ongoing wildfires in Canada.
Carter Vigh had asthma his entire life and always carried his inhaler, his parents, James and Amber Vigh, told CNN Canadian partner, CBC.
Carter’s parents told CBC that their son died July 11 after visiting the emergency room for an asthma attack.
While his cause of death has not been determined yet, the BC Coroners Service said in a Monday afternoon bulletin that it is investigating his death as “related to an existing medical condition aggravated by wildfire smoke.”
“The sudden and unexpected death of this young boy is a heartbreaking loss for his family and community,” the coroner’s service said.
Carter was at a water park with friends earlier in the day when the air was clearer and then went to a birthday party, his parents told CBC. “He had a great day,” said Amber Vigh. “I had no indication he was struggling in any way.”
Carter began coughing in the evening, and his parents gave him his inhaler and advised him to concentrate on his breathing.
The coughing worsened, so they took Carter to the hospital where they said he later lost consciousness.
“I’m hoping that people realize how quickly it can turn because we had his asthma under control. We were so diligent,” his parents told CBC.
“They tried everything,” Amber told CBC. “I just stood there and just told him that I loved him and just to breathe.”
His parents described Carter as “perfect” and the “most loving boy.”
“Our communities are now becoming more aware of the risks presented by wildfire smoke and the measures that can be taken to reduce those risks,” the coroner’s service said.
Children can have a harder time breathing when the air quality is bad due to how small their airways are, CNN previously reported. The lungs in children are not fully developed either, which adds to the difficulty.
As of Tuesday, more than 900 wildfires are burning across Canada, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre’s website. So far, at least two firefighters have died battling the wildfires.
The Canadian government put out a special air quality statement for British Columbia on Monday that will carry over to Tuesday. The statement says that smoky conditions will be “intensified” by Tuesday morning in the 100 Mile and Williams Lake area.