Fri | Sep 29, 2023

Shock death for Mona High teen

Boy pledged to be next Usain Bolt and pull family out of poverty

Published:Thursday | March 31, 2022 | 12:06 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
David Holland, the 15-year-old Mona High School student athlete who died last week.
David Holland, the 15-year-old Mona High School student athlete who died last week.

A teen with a seemingly bright future in athletics, who promised his mother that he would elevate their family out of poverty by following in the footsteps of athletics superstar Usain Bolt, died last week after contracting dengue fever.

A shell-shocked Sandra Grant told The Gleaner yesterday that her world has been turned upside down since her son, David Holland, a student athlete of the St Andrew-based Mona High School, passed away last Thursday.

“It is so surprising to us to see that David just gone. From David born until now, I never take David to any doctor fi say him sick, fi know yuh have a sick child to run up and down a Children's,” she said, referring to the Bustamante Children's Hospital.

“Him fully immunised and strong and healthy,” Grant said.

The grieving mom said that David fell ill at home on March 18 and was taken to The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) where he was diagnosed with dengue fever.

His symptoms included experiencing fevers, difficulty breathing and swellings all over his body.

Grant said that, when David was discharged, she believed he would have overcome the illness, but doctors soon informed her that he would be readmitted.

“His condition did not improve. The fever was not high, but he was in pain and had difficulty walking,” she said.

On her last visit, David's feet, arms and face were swollen and he was not speaking, Grant said of the athlete with big dreams who even expressed a desire to represent the country in athletics.

“Him say, 'Mommy, a me a di next Bolt, enuh. Mommy, mi a go take care of you. Mommy, nuh worry yuhself; mi a go tek care of you. Just give me some time, man. Mi soon mek unuh nice',” she tearfully recalled him saying previously.


Grant said David, who also played football, was “very talented in track and field and had a bright future”.

“He was a very brilliant and happy child, just a people person,” she said.

David's sister, Cathan Grant, misses his positive energy.

“I am trying to cope. I miss his vibes. Him always tell me say the higher-grade students dem love him,” Cathan said.

Sandra Grant told The Gleaner that she had never had to scold David because of indiscipline at school.

“I never go to school and no teacher say, 'Mommy, you need to talk to David.' You just imagine a child in a 7th or 8th grade and fi him friend dem a di bigger boys. They always take care of David,” she said.


Grant said that David attended school irregularly, especially during the pandemic, because of financial constraints.

Mona High School Principal Keven Jones, who expressed condolences to David's family, said that he was very aware of the financial challenges, adding that the school had assisted with uniform and a tablet.

“He came in February of this year just to sit the mid-term exams, then after that he disappeared again ... . He was a young man who was totally dedicated to track and field,” Jones said, adding that David was also being eyed by scouts from some of the island's top track and field schools, including Jamaica College.

Both David's family and Jones dismissed reports that he collapsed during training at school.

“The information going around is not true and we would really like if persons, especially these adults who are using the social media platform, can be a little more responsible,”Jones pleaded yesterday.

The headmaster recalled David as a quiet and unassuming young man who was also very polite.

“He wasn't a talkative person any at all. He has never come to my office for any sort of disciplinary problem. So he was one of those low-profile young men, but he was seen by his colleagues because he can run fast,” Jones told The Gleaner.

David's mother said he will be sadly missed around the house because he always found something for them to smile about and he was also a great cook.

“When him ready, him say, 'Mommy, Jah know. Mi a go cook some dumpling and mackerel, you know, and mi nuh want nuh powder seasoning. Mi want mi natural ground seasoning on mi mackerel',” Grant said.