CINCINNATI -- Doctors at University Hospital in Cincinnati said a 24-year-old father died Wednesday from a tooth infection.
Patti Collins, wife of famed local musician Bootsy Collins, said she couldn't believe what happened to her nephew, Kyle Willis, who left behind a 6-year-old daughter.
"I said, 'What do you mean they're calling the family?' (My daughter) said, 'Mom, the infection (Willis) had in his tooth has gone to his brain," Collins said.
But doctors said that rare as it may be, what started out as a toothache eventually killed the young father and aspiring paralegal.
Family members said Willis' wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. Dentists said it needed to be pulled, but being an unemployed single father, Willis decided to ignore the pain.
Collins said her nephew was out of work and didn't have health insurance.
But when Willis started getting headaches and his face began to swell, he went to the emergency room.
"The (doctors) gave him antibiotic and pain medication. But he couldn't afford to pay for the antibiotic, so he chose the pain meds, which was not what he needed," Collins said.
Doctors told Willis' family that while the pain had stopped, the infection kept spreading -- eventually attacking his brain and causing it to swell.
"He should have gone to the dentist to take care of the toothache, and it wouldn't have escalated to this. It's a lesson learned by all," Collins said.
Collins said the family wants to make sure what happened to Willis never happens to anyone else.
Family members said they are trying to get an account together for Willis' funeral expenses, and they're also hoping to create another fund for his daughter's college education.