‘The world was open to her’: Family mourns girl who inspired GRPD youth policy

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The first child in Kent County to die after contracting COVID-19 was the girl who inspired the Grand Rapids Police Department’s youth policy.

Honestie Hodges’ family said she died Sunday from complications linked to COVID-19. She was 14 years old.

“She could have been the vice president one day or maybe the president,” Honestie’s grandmother, Alisa Niemeyer, said. “The world was open to her.”

Two weeks ago, she said, Honestie was “healthy” and “happy.” She had no underlying health problems.

Niemeyer said Honestie went to the hospital with stomach pains on her birthday, Nov. 9.

“It just went down from there, like incredibly quickly,” Niemeyer told News 8 Monday. “There was no way we thought this was ever going to happen. You know (we thought), ‘She is going to get better; she is going to come home and we are going to have a birthday party.'”

The birthday party never happened. At the hospital, Honestie tested positive for COVID-19.

“I don’t think we were too terribly concerned at that point,” Niemeyer said. “I mean, we know a lot of people who have had COVID quarantined and they were just fine at the end of the day. So initially we weren’t too concerned.”

That changed as fast as her condition.

“By the time I saw my granddaughter, she wasn’t communicating in any way,” she said.

Honestie was admitted to the intensive care unit. She was immediately given an iron transfusion, a blood transfusion, put on oxygen and later placed on a ventilator. Less than two weeks after her diagnosis, she was gone.

Honestie was 11 when she made headlines in 2017. She was held at gunpoint and handcuffed by GRPD officers, later inspiring a policy change for officers’ interactions with kids. Her family wanted to continue her push for good by sharing the story of her battle with COVID-19.

“We’ve got to take this seriously,” Niemeyer warned. “I know there are people out there that just don’t want to take it seriously and they don’t want the government telling them what they can and can’t do. I do understand that, but at the end of the day this is real, real thing.”

Statewide, fewer than six people under the age of 20 have died from COVID-19.

Honestie’s family set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for expenses.

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