Students at Susan B. Anthony school in Queens set up a make shift memorial Monday to remember an assistant principal who became the city's first death linked to the swine flu virus.
Mitchell Wiener, 55, an assistant principal at IS 238 in Queens, died on Sunday night, his family said. Medical officials stressed Monday that Wiener had an underlying illness when he contracted swine flu.
Teachers, faculty and students had a candlelight vigil for Wiener Monday night.
Wiener first got sick more than a week ago, but didn't go to the hospital until Wednesday morning.
"We were treating him very aggressively. Unfortunately, he did expire at 6:17 p.m. this evening," Flushing Hospital spokesman Ole Pedersentold the New York Post on Sunday. "He was in critical condition. His family was saying that he had not, in fact, deteriorated, which was true, but he was still extremely critical."
The makeshift memorial went up outside the school Monday morning. Candles and flowers were placed in front of the building, as was a hand-written note that read: "R.I.P. Mr. Wiener."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed sadness at the passing of Weiner during a press conference on Monday.
"Mr. Wiener was a dedicated educator, he was well-liked by his students and he cared deeply about them," Bloomberg said. "His death really is a tragedy for our city and a terrible loss for the school community at IS 238 and especially obviously for his wife Bonnie and their sons."
Days ago, Wiener's family said he was showing slight signs of improvement.
The city's first outbreak of swine flu occurred three weeks ago, when about 700 students and 300 other people associated with a Catholic high school in Queens began falling ill following the return of several students from vacations in Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Public schools Chancellor Joel Klein spoke of Wiener's commitment to his children.
“For three decades Mitchell Wiener enriched the lives of children at IS 238 in Hollis, Queens, where he served as a math teacher and administrator," said Klein. "He was committed to the success of his students, and was loved and respected by the school community. I'm greatly saddened by his death and my thoughts are with the 238 community and especially with his wife and family.”
The principal of IS 238, Joseph Gates, had appeared in the Flushing Hospital emergency room Saturday night complaining of flu-like symptoms. He was treated and released, authorities said.
"We are now seeing a rising tide of flu in many parts of New York City," Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said in a statement. "With the virus spreading widely, closing these and other individual schools will make little difference in transmission throughout New York City, but we hope it will help slow transmission within the individual school communities."
Wiener is the sixth person in the United States to die of the virus.
On Thursday a woman in Arizona became the fourth victim in the US to die from swine flu Thursday. That case brought the worldwide death toll to 70.