Oliver Jack Carter Lomas-Davis had his Sen. Bernie Sanders impersonation down pat. They had the same fly-away white hair, square framed glasses and serious expression.
Sure, Oliver was a little shorter than the Democratic presidential candidate. And if anyone at the Las Vegas rally asked him his opinions on Wall Street reform, he would have had some trouble formulating a response. But really, how much can you expect from a 3-month-old?
Aside from that, though, the baby was Sanders’ spitting image.
Within hours of their meeting at a rally for Sanders in Nevada last month, the “Bernie Baby” had become an infant Internet sensation.
But just as swiftly and unexpectedly, he has died, his family says. Oliver was four months old when he died last week from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to an online memorial for the boy.
Oliver became a social media darling in February after his mother, Susan Lomas, posted photos of him, bewigged and bespectacled, on Twitter last month. Sanders himself seemed enchanted by his 74-years-younger doppelganger; in pictures taken at the Las Vegas rally where the Lomases met Sanders, the candidate grins at the chubby-cheeked child with amusement.
Oliver, on the other hand, seems more interested in taking in the scene around him.
“Oliver was happy, joyful and full of love, and he shared that with everyone he came into contact with,” his aunt Anastasia Lomas told the Associated Press on Thursday. “He was extremely healthy and was tragically taken too early by SIDS.”
Oliver’s mother, Susan Lomas, has not spoken about the baby boy’s death on Feb. 25. But in a post on her Facebook page, she wrote, “I love you dearly, I love you most. I love you with all my heart and soul. I know that God will keep you near since God and truth are here.”
No one knows what causes SIDS, which kills about 1,500 infants a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The syndrome isn’t even necessarily one condition – just a diagnosis for otherwise inexplicable deaths, characterized by little more than a collection of risk factors and a great deal of uncertainty.
By its very nature, “We can’t prevent SIDS,” Kitty Roche, a SIDS coordinator for San Diego County, explained in an informational video released by the county in 2014. “SIDS means we don’t know what caused the baby’s death. We do know that we can reduce the risk of SIDS.”
SIDS deaths most often occur when a baby is sleeping, and might be linked to suffocation from soft bedding or the baby sleeping on his or her stomach. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs for the first year of their life. Since the government began an information campaign about this recommendation in 1994, the rate of SIDS in the U.S. has fallen more than 50 percent.
The Sanders campaign told the AP that it’s aware of Oliver’s death and plans to release a statement.
“It’s very sad,” spokesman Michael Briggs said.
The Chino Hills, Calif. family has also set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for funeral expenses and counseling; as of early Friday, the site has raised more than $21,000.
The little boy’s memorial service will be held next Monday, followed by a funeral the next day.
“Please come share w/us the short, beautiful life of Oliver,” his mother posted on Twitter “who will be greatly missed but not forgotten.”
(C) 2016, The Washington Post · Sarah Kaplan