Chesterfield family looks for answers after son chokes on school lunch, dies days later

Chesterfield Fire and EMS provided a timeline about their response to the medical call
Karina Nolasco wants to know the timeline and response inside the school where her son, Josue, choked on a meatball. Josue died three days later in the hospital
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 6:27 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2023 at 7:37 PM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - A Chesterfield family is looking for more information about the timeline of events and care their son received in school after he choked on a meatball during lunch at Providence Middle School.

Karina Nolasco told NBC12 that school officials called her on Feb. 15 to let her know her son, Josue, was being rushed to the emergency room. Josue’s father, Lee, rushed to Chippenham Hospital to find out his son was intubated.

“He was paralyzed because the first thing he saw was his child intubated and trying to help him because he was unconscious,” said Nolasco.

Karina said she was originally told her child had no oxygen going to his brain for 20 minutes, but blood tests in the hospital revealed it was 40 minutes.

“I was left in shock when they told me 40 minutes,” she said.

Three days later, Josue died.

“He wasn’t conscious and I told him, ‘Papi, here’s mom. Mom’s here,’ and his tears started coming out and that’s what broke me,” said Nolasco.

She also said the doctors told her, “If your child solely had only 20 minutes, like they told you, then your child would be with you with irreversible damage, but would be with you all here today.”

Chesterfield Police said a school resource officer administered aid to the student.

A following letter was also sent to Providence Middle School families on Feb. 15 after the medical emergency:

“I want to share with you that a student required medical attention during lunch today. I would like to commend our students for their behavior during this time, and I hope that you will share with them tonight how proud we are of them.

While the school schedule for the rest of the day will continue as planned, as always, our school counseling team is available to assist students and staff. Please do not hesitate to let us know if your child has concerns upon returning home today.”

After Josue passed away, another letter was sent to families:

“Good Evening Providence Middle School Families, I apologize for interrupting your evening, but have some important news to share and an important ask to make of you tonight. I am sad to share that we have learned that a 7th grade student, Josue Chavez Nolasco, has passed away. His parents shared this with us today and asked that I share this with you. We will keep the family in our thoughts during this difficult time. If this is a discussion that you would like to have with your child in your home tonight, we want to be supportive of the conversation as you talk with your child to reassure and support them as part of the grieving process. Attached are some materials that we use during times of grief. Please review these documents and use them as necessary with your child. We will have student support services staff members available at school tomorrow to assist students. Please call the school in the morning or email me tonight if you have updates about your child that we should be aware of for Wednesday.”

After their son’s death, Josue’s parents still have questions about the care given to their student inside the school, including the timeline of events.

Nolasco said they don’t want to place the blame on anyone, but they would like to know exactly what happened inside the school and what care their son was given.

“I know this is not going to return my son. I know that perfectly,” said Nolasco.

On Wednesday, NBC12 reached out to Chesterfield County Public Schools to request a timeline of events related to this medical emergency, including the time Josue started to choke and when aid was administered. However, no one responded to our requests.

On Thursday, NBC12 reached out again through email multiple times throughout the day with the same request for information, but no one responded to our requests.

Included in Thursday’s request, NBC12 also asked if there was a school nurse inside Providence Middle School. However, there was no response to our request for comment.

Chesterfield Fire and EMS also gave NBC12 the following timeline about the medical call:

  • Dispatch: 11:15
  • Enroute: 11:16
  • On Scene: 11:20
  • Patient Contact: 11:21
  • Transport to ER: 11:29
  • At Hospital: 11:35

Nolasco just wants to know what unfolded inside the school and hopes to prevent other families from experiencing their pain.

“Honestly, what we want is to know what really unfolded,” she said. “Honestly, we don’t want any other parent to go through what I went through or what he’s going through.”

A GoFundMe page for Josue’s memorial has raised $14,000.