Sloss family's emotional tribute as 'wee hero' JJ (4) dies in his sleep
A Carrickfergus family has been left devastated after their "wee hero" died in his sleep on Saturday night.
Kelly-Ann Sloss put her four-year-old son Jason-John, affectionately known as JJ, to bed on Saturday night as normal.
Tragically, he did not wake up the following morning.
JJ is believed to have died from Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC), a condition similar to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or cot death.
JJ had only started at Sunnylands Nursery in Carrickfergus in September, just weeks after his fourth birthday on August 18.
But at around 3.30am on Sunday morning, he was rushed to hospital as his mum noticed that he wasn't breathing. He was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after.
Although JJ had a condition known as 'deletion syndrome', which meant he was missing part of a chromosome, doctors are not certain if it contributed to his death. His family said that following a post mortem, doctors could not find a reason for him to pass away so suddenly.
Speaking on behalf of JJ's family, his great uncle Jason Hartley said: "JJ was much loved by his mother Kelly, grandmother Michele, great-grandmother Martha and the rest of the family. JJ having the deletion syndrome made us love him that bit more because he was such a great character, full of life and love."
The local community in the Co Antrim town has been left shocked by the sudden death of the popular "wee character".
Hundreds of pounds have been donated to help with the funeral costs. Last night, just 24 hours after a fundraising page was set up, more than £1,000 had been raised.
Family friend Mark Brown, who set up the page, posted: "Nobody saw this coming. JJ was only four years old and this has come as a big shock to his family and their circle of friends. JJ was such a wee character. He always had a smile on his face and could brighten up your day with his cheeky grin.
"As you know there is nothing we can say or do to take away the pain that this tragedy has put on Kelly and the family but I am hoping the funds we raise could go a little way to help with the funeral costs, just to make it a little bit easier. JJ will be truly missed by all of us."
Yesterday he said JJ's mother was "overwhelmed" by the response to the appeal as over 70 people had pledged money.
JJ's great-uncle Jason said: "The family really appreciate all the donations made to Kelly, but all the money in the world could never replace him."
A Facebook memorial page was also set up to allow friends and family to post tributes and messages of support.
His family said the page was to "celebrate the short life of our wee hero" and added "the world is a sadder place without him". They said that his death was "totally devastating" for the whole family.
His uncle Robert Pollock posted: "I love this wee man to bits. I will miss you loads JJ. We will meet again sometime soon."
JJ will be buried tomorrow at St Nicholas' Church in Carrick. The open service will begin at 2pm.
To donate to JJ's memorial fund, visit https://www.gofundme.com/zfduhfvg or to leave a message of support for his family visit https://www.facebook.com/JasonJohnSlossHartleyMemorialPage/