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 September 5, 2023

Teen, Harris Wolobah, dies after viral one chip challenge

A Massachusetts teenager, Harris Wolobah, tragically lost his life after taking part in a popular online chip challenge.

In a heartbreaking incident, a 14-year-old student, Harris Wolobah from Worcester, Massachusetts, passed away. The suspected cause? A viral challenge involving the consumption of an exceptionally spicy tortilla chip, known as the One Chip Challenge.

The event has sparked concerns and a call for awareness about the potential dangers of such internet challenges.

fter consuming the chip, Harris felt unwell and visited the nurse's office. Following a call to his parents, Harris was sent home. Tragically, he later lost consciousness and, upon being taken to the hospital, was pronounced dead.

Statements from family and school officials

Harris' family, particularly devastated, believe that complications from the One Chip Challenge led to his untimely death. His mother, Lois Wolobah, recalls being contacted by the school nurse because Harris experienced a stomach ache after consuming the chip, NBC Boston reported.

She expressed her belief that her son should've been sent directly to a hospital rather than being sent home, and now seeks to raise awareness about the potential risks of the challenge.

Douglas Hill, one of Harris' coaches, and the Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel Monárrez, echoed similar sentiments, with Monárrez describing Harris as "a rising star."

The One Chip Challenge and its risks

The One Chip Challenge is no stranger to controversy. Participants are dared to eat a tortilla chip made with hot peppers and then resist the urge to drink or eat anything to relieve the burning sensation. The challenge has been popular for several years, with some videos on TikTok featuring it amassing more than 200,000 likes.

Dr. Lauren Rice, from Tufts Medical Center, has voiced concerns, mentioning that when consuming the chip, some could face difficulty breathing which could result in esophageal issues, USA Today reported.

The chips, manufactured by Paqui, LLC, come with specific warnings about their extreme spiciness. This includes cautionary advice against consumption by children, those with sensitivities to spicy foods, pregnant individuals, and those with medical conditions.

Notably, the company emphasizes the importance of safety and ensures that their products are properly labeled with allergen and safety information.

A wider look at online challenges

Online challenges, while often starting off as light-hearted entertainment, have sometimes taken dark turns. Notably, in 2021, there were reported fatalities of children participating in TikTok's "blackout" challenges due to oxygen deprivation.

Following such tragedies, legal actions were initiated by parents in Wisconsin and Texas against TikTok.

In light of such events and the recent tragedy with Harris, it is crucial for both parents and participants to be aware of potential risks and to approach viral challenges with caution.

Lessons to learn from this tragedy

  • Always be aware of the risks: Before participating in any challenge, it's essential to understand the potential health implications.
  • Immediate medical attention is crucial: If someone feels unwell after a challenge, it's vital to seek medical help promptly.
  • Schools and parents need to communicate: Schools should have a protocol for emergencies related to challenges, and parents should be aware of trending challenges.
  • Monitor children's online activities: Parents should be vigilant about their children's online activities and the challenges they might be participating in.

It's essential to remember that despite taking precautions, unfortunate incidents can occur. Blaming the victim or the guardians isn't the solution.

Why this story matters

The tragic loss of Harris Wolobah is a stark reminder of the real-world implications of viral online challenges.

It underscores the importance of understanding the risks associated with seemingly harmless internet trends. The event also highlights the critical role schools and parents play in ensuring the safety of young participants.

Harris's story, though heartbreaking, serves as a vital wake-up call. It implores us to exercise caution, be informed, and prioritize safety over fleeting internet fame.

Please share this article on Twitter and Facebook.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.
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