UPDATE: Liam’s parents sent this statement to WKRG News 5:

Stephen Ripp wrote ” Liam was born with gastroschisis and was in NICU at sacred heart hospital in Pensacola for nearly a month while we stayed at the Ronald McDonald house. He was always so proud to show off the “special belly button”, his scar, the surgeons made for him when they repaired his belly at birth. Stomach issues continued throughout his life and making us return to hospital a few times.

On Sunday he woke up with a sore stomach which was not uncommon and we went through our normal routine of making him better but it wasn’t meant to be and he unexpectedly passed in the early afternoon in our arms.

Liam was very proud of being on the autism spectrum and made sure everyone knew about it as part of his introduction. His favorite T-shirt was a green autism “it’s ok to be different” T-shirt. with the autism skeleton dabbing. He was so proud whenever he would wear it.

He received special needs services at Rockwell Elementary school starting at age 3. Rockwell’s family was integral in Liam progressing from very limited communication and social interaction into the outgoing, fun-loving, intelligent little boy he became. The American Autism and Rehabilitation Center was another valuable resource in our community in Liam’s growth and learning about autism where he went after school and on the summer break. Support for families with Autism is very difficult to find and if anything, we would like Liam’s passing to raise awareness for Autism so we can continue the message he started. “

SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WKRG) — In a post on Facebook, the PTA of Rockwell Elementary in Spanish Fort says teachers and students are mourning the sudden death of a 3rd grader.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we inform the Rockwell Family of the loss of one of our own students. Liam John Ripp passed away suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday, March 15, 2020. He was a precious 3rd grade student in Mrs. Lowery Walker’s class. “

Liam’s mother posted on Facebook that he had autism, and stomach problems that may have lead to his sudden passing.

Meanwhile, an outpouring of support from the school, “there are no words we can say to ease the unimaginable pain his family is enduring, but we do ask that everyone please pray for Liam’s parents, Elizabeth and Steven and his big brother, Riley; along with his countless family members here in America and Australia. “

According to the post, memorial plans are still pending, “please also pray for Liam’s friends, who should never have to say goodbye to a friend and classmate at such a young age. We are all truly heartbroken by Liam’s passing.”