Austin couple raising awareness, funds about unexplained condition after losing son


AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 2014, an unexplained tragedy struck an Austin family as Moss Pieratt, almost 15 months old, died without warning. For Jessica and her husband J., they were devastated.

“Moss was our firstborn child,” Jessica said. “He was such a happy little boy. We were left with no answers.”

The Pieratts had heard of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but it was unclear what happened.

“You have a child, and you get beyond that magical date of having your child turn one year old, and you are thinking that is pretty much in the rearview mirror,” J. said.

More research by the parents found this was Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood, which is a category of death in children between the ages of 1 and 18 that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including an autopsy.

Moss Pieratt

SUDC is different than SIDS because it happens in children older than 1.

“We have met families in Houston and the surrounding Austin area that have experienced this,” said J.

According to the SUDC Foundation, there were 392 deaths due to the condition in 2018. More than half of the deaths were in children between the ages of 1 and 4.

The Pieratts have leaned on other parents who have dealt with this unexplained condition for support. They have also given support to parents who have experienced the same tragedy.

“We are able to see their surviving children and they are able to meet our daughters and it is beautiful,” Jessica said.

The Moss Pieratt Foundation made a $150,000 donation to the Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood Foundation

There are a number of resources that can offer support and information about SUDC. The SUDC Foundation looks to raise awareness and advocates for research.

“We want folks that have experienced this tragedy to know there are these resources, that they aren’t alone,” J. said.

The Pieratts have set up the Moss Pieratt Foundation with the goal of educating others about SUDC.

The family will be hosting Moss Fest, March 27 and 28, which is a children’s concert put on in memory of their late son.

It is usually held during Kite Fest at Zilker Park, but this year because of the pandemic it will be online. Anyone is welcome to join the virtual concert which will feature 18 artists.

Flyer for MossFest

“We knew we wanted to do a fundraiser and we knew we wanted it to be an event we would have enjoyed taking Moss to,” Jessica said. “We will debut the concert during the ABC Kite Fest then we will leave it up online for parents to go back to on a rainy day.”

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