Man with Down syndrome dies from COVID-19 one week after his mother

Posted at 10:06 PM, Apr 09, 2020

Friends and family are grieving the loss of a New Jersey woman and her son, dying just a week apart after contracting the coronavirus.

Carolyn Martins-Reitz died in late March. Her son, Thomas Martins, died a little over a week later on his 30th birthday. Martins-Reitz is described as a devoted mother and caretaker for her beloved son, who had Down syndrome.

“Carolyn was completely wrapped up and Thomas and Thomas in her as well,” said Dana Regan. “They were just very, very close he was her world and she the same for him.”

Regan is director of the 21 and over program at the Felician School in Lodi, where Thomas was a client. The program is devoted to special needs adults/ She’s known Thomas for over a decade.

“We got the staff together on a zoom session and sang happy birthday all together we recorded it and I was able to talk to Thomas a little bit and play that video for him so he can hear us all wishing him happy birthday,” said Regan.

Martins passed away just hours later. His friends hope even though he was not conscious he could hear them when the nurses put the video up to his hospital bed.

Regan says she’ll always remember Martins for his infectious smile and outgoing personality.

“He was an avid dancer, loved music, he was everybody’s friend,” said Regan. “Thomas was a very upbeat happy-go-lucky kind of guy, always smiling, super friendly.”

Martins leaves behind his stepdad and sister, who are now dealing with a double loss.

Regan finds peace in believing that mother and son are together once again.

“I think she knew he would be happiest with her,” said Regan. “I don’t know how he could’ve woken up and feel that devastating loss and then try to go on and do things he always did without her by his side.”

Loved ones of Carolyn Martins-Reitz and Thomas Martins have set up a Gofundme page to help pay for funeral expenses and medical bills.

This article was written by Shirley Chan for WPIX.