State public health officials are investigating the weekend death of a 6-year-old Millbury boy as a possible case of food poisoning.
“The symptoms reported may be indicative of a food-borne illness, and is currently under epidemiologic investigation,” according to an e-mail Wednesday evening from Anne Roach, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The death certificate for the boy lists his name as Owen Carrignan. He died around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, according to Derek Brindisi, director of Worcester’s Public Health Department.
Brindisi said the cause of death was listed as hemolytic-uremic syndrome, an acute form of kidney failure often linked to a gastrointestinal infection caused by E. coli bacteria. A secondary cause of death was respiratory failure.
“All the signs pointed to E. coli,” said Shawn Carrignan, 37, Owen’s father, late Wednesday night. “Basically, he went over to a friend’s house Saturday night, we don’t know what he ate, but the next day he had a stomachache.”
Carrignan said Owen became continuously worse before he died on Saturday.
A wake for the boy was held in Millbury on Wednesday night, he said.
“He was the best at every sport,” Carrignan said. “You couldn’t slow him down. I’d play with him eight, nine hours and you couldn’t wear him down. He was my youngest. It was always about me and him. He was incredible.”
Owen’s family is setting up a scholarship in his honor. The Owen E. Carrignan Scholarship Fund will go to a graduating high school student who is not only a focused athlete, but respected by his peers, and contributes to the community, according to the family.
“The whole family has been devastated,” said Bob Carrignan, 69, Owen’s grandfather, Wednesday night. “It’s heartbreaking. He had everything going. He wasn’t just about sports. He was just a wonderful kid.”
A clerk with the Public Health Department in Millbury referred questions about the case to the staff nurse. She did not return a phone call left on Wednesday afternoon.