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Young boy dies from amoeba after lake swim

Posted at 10:07 PM, Jul 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-20 00:13:49-04

SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WLTX) The family of a boy who died from a rare amoeba he contracted while swimming says they're trying to make sense of what happened.

Blake Driggers, 8, died Tuesday night from a brain infection caused by the amoeba. The parasite entered his nasal cavity while he was swimming in Lake Marion.

"It's just awful to think I won't ever see him again," said Gerry Bradham.

On the wall of Blake's bedroom hang pictures of Jesus and artwork he drew himself.

"We can't believe it happened that quick," Bradham adds. "It's just such a rare thing."

Bradham says her grandson went tubing and swimming on Lake Marion on July 7th.

"He said Nanna, the water was splashing all over my head and everywhere," she says. "But I just let it go. Drinking it."

The following Saturday, he started experiencing symptoms: a stiff neck, headache, and vomiting. His family immediately took him to the hospital.

"They started taking IV fluids and all, and they could hardly draw his blood he was so dehydrated," Brahham says. "His eyes were crossed he couldn't focus them. He was confused."

Blake's uncle David Driggers is still in disbelief, not knowing how the smiling, fun-loving eight year old lost his life at the hands of a microscopic organism.

""He was my buddy," he says. "I love Blake. He touched a lot of people's lives."

"He did wake up long enough to tell them his name and age, and that's the last thing he said," Bradham says.

While pictures and memories now fill an empty room, the family says they'll never stop loving the one who made it so bright.  

"We all just loved him to death," Bradham says. "It's just too short a life for him but the Lord was ready for him. When he's ready, you've got to go."

The family says Drigger's sisters, 11-year-old Marybeth Dooley and 17-year-old Heather Dooley, are still in the hospital as a precaution, since they were swimming in the same water.   However, the family tells us that all the tests have come back negative.

The family also wanted to pass along information about a fund set up in Blake's name to help with medical costs.  You can go to the Safe Credit Federal Union in Sumter and donate money in to the Blake Driggers fund.  You can also go to the Prayers for Blake Driggers Facebook page and donate through Paypal.

The visitation will be held at 8pm Sunday night in Sumter. Funeral services are planned for Monday.