Lives Lost: New Jersey mom, son together in life and death

For almost 30 years, they were inseparable — the devoted mom and the son whose world revolved around her.


Death, it turned out, would be no different. Carolyn Martins-Reitz died of the coronavirus last month, and just over a week later, so did Thomas Martins.

“I find some peace knowing that he’s with her,” said Joni Lewin, who’s Martins-Reitz’s lifelong best friend and Martins’ godmother.

Martins-Reitz, 55, of Kearny, New Jersey, was the primary caretaker for her nearly 30-year-old son, who had Down syndrome. They both started struggling with symptoms of the virus toward the end of March, said Rudolph Reitz, Martins-Reitz’s husband and Martins’ stepfather.

He believes Martins-Reitz being taken to the hospital may have worsened his stepson’s condition.

“What we believe accelerated his illness to the point of pneumonia was the unannounced departure of his mother with the house full of paramedics,” Reitz said. “That was pretty traumatic for him to watch his mother be taken away.”

Martins-Reitz — who had underlying health issues, according to her husband — died at a hospital on March 28; Martins followed on April 6, his 30th birthday.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an ongoing series of stories remembering people around the world who have died during the coronavirus pandemic.


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