Teen Dies After Participating in Viral Spicy Chip Challenge

A 14-year-old student from Worcester, Massachusetts, tragically passed away last Friday, a death his family attributes to complications from consuming an extremely spicy chip as part of a viral social media challenge. The deceased, Harris Wolobah, was a sophomore at Doherty Memorial High School. His mother confirmed to local news outlets that they believe the One Chip Challenge led to his untimely death, although an official cause of death is yet to be confirmed pending autopsy results.

The One Chip Challenge, a trend that has gained popularity on social media platforms, involves consuming a tortilla chip claimed to be the spiciest in the world. Participants are then expected to wait as long as possible before consuming anything to alleviate the heat. The chip, produced by Paqui, is packaged in a coffin-shaped container and comes with a warning that it should be kept away from children, is intended for adult consumption only, and should not be eaten by anyone sensitive to spicy food or with allergies.

The challenge has been linked to adverse reactions in some participants, including difficulty breathing, fainting, and prolonged nausea. In such cases, the company urges individuals to seek immediate medical help. The trend has raised concerns among school administrators, leading some California principals to issue warnings last year after students participating in the challenge experienced severe reactions.

According to Harris’ mother, Lois Walobah, her son was given the chip by a classmate, which resulted in a severe stomach ache. Although he felt better after returning home, he collapsed later in the day as he was preparing to leave for basketball tryouts. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Worcester police department confirmed that they are investigating the teenager’s death, but did not disclose whether the investigation involves potential criminal activity. Lois Walobah expressed her belief that her son should have been taken to the hospital rather than sent home after visiting the school nurse. She hopes that sharing her son’s story will raise awareness about the potential dangers of the One Chip Challenge and prevent further tragedies.

Worcester Public Schools confirmed that Harris felt unwell and visited the school nurse before being sent home with his family. The district has not yet responded to inquiries about why Harris was sent home instead of to the hospital, or whether they plan to take further action regarding the One Chip Challenge.

The One Chip Challenge has been around for several years, and has previously led to students being sent home from school. Paqui, the company behind the challenge, stated last year that they take safety seriously and strive to ensure their products are clearly labeled with allergen and safety information.

In the wake of Harris’ death, Worcester Public Schools is offering grief counseling and emotional support for students and staff. Superintendent Rachel Monárrez expressed her condolences in a statement, saying, “My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him.”