Friends and family mourn death of 14-year old student - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Friends and family mourn death of 14-year old student

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The death of two high school students in two days has rocked the Dubuque community. It's also caused for concern for health officials.

Last friday -- 14 year old Maranda Nelson, a student at Senior High, died at her home from pneumonia. The next day, 16 year old Victoria Martin, a student at Hempstead High School, died. What she died of remains a mystery.

"She's up there hollering, she's letting everybody know who she is. She had a big mouth," said Debra Nelson.

That's how friends and and family remember 14 year-old Maranda Nelson.

"She loved working with clay and painting and drawing," said Nelson's best friend Tiffany Soppe.

Wednesday, her pottery and art work sat on display for her wake; a wake that came far too soon.

"Last monday night she started running a little light fever. She started coughing. It was just a normal sickness," said Debra Nelson.

Last Wednesday, Maranda's mom, Debra Nelson, took her entire family to the doctor. While her brother was diagnosed with the flu -- Maranda tested negative and went home. Still running a fever on Friday afternoon, Maranda decided to take a nap.

"By the time her older sister got home at 2:45 she was gone," said Debra.

Maranda died of pneumonia -- a rare thing in people her age. In 2004 -- just 25 people age ten to 19 died of pneumonia.

"It was really fast. Within a half hour. She had just talked to her. She was laughing and smiling," said Debra.

Now, the dozens of friends and family at Maranda's wake Wednesday are left only memories of the 14 year-old who loved to text message.

"OMG -- she always used to say that and she probably would tell everyone they better not cry," said Debra.

Services for 16 year-old Victoria Martin will be at 1:00 pm Thursday afternoon at the Van Hoe Funeral Home in East Moline, Illinois.

State health officials say the two girls deaths are not part of a disease outbreak -- adding there is no apparent risk to public health.

Online reporter: Lauren Squires

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