'Kind and Outgoing' High School Junior Dies of COVID Complications: 'He Just Made Everybody So Happy'

Joey Hoopingarner, a student at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School in Illinois, died on Sunday evening from complications related to COVID-19

Joey Hoopingarner
Joey Hoopingarner. Photo: Facebook

A community in Paxton, Illinois is in mourning the loss of an 18-year-old high school junior who died from COVID-19 complications.

Joey Hoopingarner, a student at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School, died on Sunday evening from complications related to COVID-19, according to PBL School District superintendent Cliff McClure.

McClure confirmed the death in a letter that was sent to parents on Monday and released by local newspaper The Ford County Chronicle.

Joey, who had not been vaccinated against the virus, was in good health prior to falling ill with COVID-19, his mother, Kim Hoopingarner, told the outlet.

She said her son got sick six days before his death and his condition went "downhill" on Sunday.

"His breathing got bad, so I took him to the emergency room," the mom recalled. "They incubated him and were going to send him to Carle [Foundation Hospital in Urbana], and his heart stopped."

The tragic death has left her family "very shocked" and "heartbroken," Kim said.

"It's hard," she added.

According to the matriarch, Joey "was always concerned about his family — other family members.

"He would always try to see how everybody else was [doing], and he was never worried about himself — ever," she said. "He was kind and outgoing. ... He just made everybody so happy."

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In a Facebook post, Joey's sister, Samantha Hoopingarner, remembered him as her "little big brother."

"please keep an eye on mom and dad, please never forget how much love this family has for you buddy," Samantha wrote. "ill think of you everyday and never let you fade from my memory."

As of Monday, there have been at least 32,967,351 reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 585,572 coronavirus-related deaths, according to a New York Times database.

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