Worcester high school student dies of complications from social media challenge, family says

WORCESTER, Mass. — A Worcester family is in mourning after a 14-year-old high school student died suddenly.

The family says on a GoFundMe page Harris Wolobah passed away after taking part in the “One Chip Challenge” which involves eating an extremely spicy chip made from some of the hottest peppers in the world.

Wolobah went to the nurse’s office after feeling sick on Friday at Doherty Memorial High School, school officials told Boston 25 News. His parents picked him up and drove him home.

Worcester Police confirmed to Boston 25 News that Wolobah passed away in his home on Rustic Drive with Worcester police officers and paramedics at the scene.

“The pain our family is experiencing is unimaginable. Harris was a light that lit up the room with his presence and subtle charm. He was an intelligent, quirky and incredibly talented young man who loved video games and playing basketball!” the Lama & Wolobah families wrote on GoFundMe.

Worcester Police say while there is no official cause of death yet, it appears he did eat the infamously scorching chip earlier in the day.

The Paqui 2023 Carolina Reaper + Naga Viper Pepper Chip contains two of the hottest peppers in the world.

On their website, Paqui asks “How long can you last before you spiral out (Before you eat or drink anything for relief?)” along with the social media hashtag “#OneChipChallenge.”

Worcester Schools Superintendent Rachel Monarrez released the following statement:

“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. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him.

“Worcester Public Schools is offering counseling and social emotional support for those who have been impacted by this tragedy. If you are a WPS student or staff member in need of grief support, please let a caring adult know at your school. We are here to help. “It is during the most trying times that the community of Worcester comes together and this is one of those times. May we stay focused on allowing the grief and healing process during this difficult time.”

At Doherty, counselors will be made available to talk to students and staff affected by the teen’s sudden passing.

Last October, school officials in Wellesley sent a letter home to parents warning them about the dangers of the “One Chip Challenge.”

Health officials say the challenge can cause serious side effects including severe coughing, asthma, serious burning of the eyes and mouth, and vomiting.

The chip also causes the tongue to turn blue.

Boston 25 News has learned the medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine exactly how Wolobah died.

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