A Massachusetts teenager died Friday after he took part in a viral social media trend seen across TikTok that is known as the “One Chip Challenge,” which the teen’s family believes contributed to his untimely death, according to reports.
Sharing the details of her son’s death with NBC 10 Boston, Lois Wolobah, mother of 14-year-old Harris Wolobah, said the teen’s family believes he died as a result of the challenge after he ate an extremely spicy Paqui chip at school and became sick afterward.
After eating the chip, Wolobah, a sophomore at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester at the time of his death, was picked up by his family from the school and reportedly started feeling better.
Wolobah was later found passed out by his brother just before basketball tryouts around 4:30 p.m. that evening and taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, his mother told the outlet.
While results of the autopsy are pending, a cause of death has not been confirmed.
Following Wolobah’s death, Worcester Public Schools is offering grief counseling emotional support for students and staff members.
“It is with a heavy heart I share that we lost a rising star, Harris Wolobah, who was a sophomore scholar at Doherty Memorial High School. As a mother and educator, I cannot imagine how hard this is on his family, friends and teachers,” Worcester Schools Superintendent Rachel Monarrez said in a Sunday statement.
“My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him,” Monarrez added.
The Paqui chip challenge, which is promoted on the company’s website, tests an individual’s ability to eat the chip and hold out on drinking any liquids to limit or relieve the burning sensation.
“How long can you last before you spiral out,” the company asks potential buyers online.
The chipmaker’s website also warns of adverse medical effects after eating the chip and insists that it should only be eaten by adults. Additionally, Paqui advises those who eat the chip to seek medical attention if they experience “difficulty breathing, fainting or extended nausea.”
“After touching the chip, wash your hands with soap and do not touch eyes or other sensitive areas,” the brand said online.
The chip offered this year by the company, according to the website, contains Carolina Reaper Pepper and Naga Viper Pepper for a “truly twisted experience.”
A spokesperson for Paqui told the “Today” show last year that the company takes “safety very seriously and have worked hard to ensure our products are properly and clearly labeled with allergen and safety information.”
“It is our intent that consumers take on this challenge with a full understanding of what it is and if it is appropriate for them,” the company added at the time.