Father of A&M student who died calls for change

Nico Williams complained of flu-like symptoms on Tuesday. By Friday, he was dead. His father is now pushing for change so this doesn't happen to anyone else.

February 12, 2011 8:24:06 PM PST
A father in Sugar Land is now on a mission after his son died from bacterial meningitis. He wants changes in the law so all college students will be protected.

Texas A&M University student Nico Williams, 20, died after the illness came on quickly. His father hopes others can be helped after what happened.

Nico is considered his father's pride and joy. Greg Williams says his son, had one asset that shined above others.

"My son, number one, had a very contagious smile," said Williams.

It's a shining smile he says will sustain him in his grief. Nico Willliams died Friday, succumbing to what his father says was a fast moving bacterial meningitis.

"As a parent, I couldn't ask for a better child," said Williams. "One of the things I tell everybody I will miss most is every conversation he always ended it with, 'Dad, I love you.'"

It's a strong love Williams says is leading him to try to keep other college students healthy. Students who live in dorms are already required to have the meningococcal vaccine, but Williams wants more, saying his son never lived in dorm.

"There's a hole in the law. What about all the children who attend college and they haven't been vaccinated and they live outside the dorm," said Williams. "Those kids interact with the kids who do live in the dorm."

Dr. Nick Solomos says meningitis is an inflammation of tissues around the brain and the spinal cord and in early stages, can look just like the flu.

"Meningitis is spread through secretions through the nose and throat fortunately, it's not as contagious as the common cold," he said.

Nico Williams died just three days after he first complained about flu-like symptoms. Greg Williams says a vaccine could have prevented his son's death.

"He loved people. He had a bright future ahead of him," said Williams. "A tragic, tragic shame that this had to happen and it could have been prevented and I just don't want it to happen to any other parent."

Williams says their grief has been lessened by the hundreds of Aggies who've visited with the family offering prayers and support.

As for current state law, Williams says he is committed to making a change so all first year students are vaccinated.

According to the National Meningitis Association, about 1,500 cases of bacterial and viral meningitis are reported each year in the US. Eleven percent of those diagnosed with it die. Teenagers and young adults account for 15 percent of all cases.