KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee Santa Claus says a terminally ill 5-year-old boy died in his arms after he gave the child a present in the hospital.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports Eric Schmitt-Matzen, who does about 80 events a year as Santa, was asked a few weeks ago to visit the dying boy.
Schmitt-Matzen says he gave the child a toy. He says the boy gave him a big hug, asked “Santa, can you help me?” and died in his arms.
“I cried all the way home,” Schmitt-Matzen told the News-Sentinel reporter. “I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive.
Schmitt-Matzen says it took him days to recover, but he’s continuing to play Santa.