CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Chesterfield family is mourning the sudden loss of their 13-year-old son after he choked in his school’s cafeteria and passed away.

8News spoke to the family of 13-year-old Josue Nolasco, who say that he was a good kid, always wanting to help out.

“He was too good for this world,” said Lee Harvey, his father. “He was always kind. He was always polite. Happy.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, Josue’s parents received a frantic call from Providence Middle School, saying the 7th grader had choked on his lunch in the cafeteria and was being rushed to the hospital.

Harvey said he left work and raced to the hospital to be by his son’s side. He says what he saw when he arrived was a nightmare.

“I saw my kid unconscious. Artificial respiration… surrounded by doctors and paramedics,” Harvey said. “A lot of people around him.” 

Despite the doctors’ efforts, at that point, Josue had gone for more than 40 minutes without breathing. Harvey said the doctors told him his son was already brain-dead. Josue passed away three days later.

“We’re having a really hard time right now,” Harvey said. “We lost our child.”

Principal M.J. Rodney of Providence Middle School sent an alert to families on the night of Tuesday, Feb. 21.

“We will keep the family in our thoughts during this difficult time,” Rodney’s statement reads. “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.”

The family told 8News that it is the memories of Josue that are keeping them strong.

“I will always love you,” said Karina Nalusco, Josue’s mother. “I feel so empty without you.”

Community members have taken to posting notes on the family’s front door with messages of compassion and encouragement. The community has also donated over $8,000 to go toward Josue’s memorial.

Chesterfield County Public Schools will be offering support services for students at the school.