Worcester, MA- It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: planning your child’s funeral. That’s what Lois Wolobah has been forced to do since her son, Harris Wolobah, died suddenly on Friday, September 1st.
Harris Wolobah was a 14-year-old sophomore at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, Massachusetts. He got up on the morning of September 1st, went to school as usual, then decided to participate in the Paqui 1-chip challenge after a friend offered him one.
The 1-chip challenge has been around for several years now and, according to the company, is only intended for adults. Paqui’s web page includes the additional warning that “Anyone who has difficulty breathing, faints, or has extended nausea is urged to seek medical assistance.”
The Worcester County District Attorney, Joseph D. Early Jr., stated, “Medical professionals have said that the tortilla chip, which is made from two of the spiciest chili peppers in the world, can cause very serious and dangerous side effects.” As such, no child should participate in the viral challenge. Perhaps no adult should either.
The box that the Paqui tortilla chip comes in is gruesomely shaped like a coffin and has a red skull on the front. On the back is a depiction of the Grim Reaper with the words “Face the Reaper” on top and “Rules for the Challenge” on the bottom. The general idea behind the popular –and dangerous– challenge is to eat the chip and see how long you can last without eating or drinking anything to relieve the pain.
On Friday, September 1st, Harris Wolobah ate the Paqui tortilla chip and got a stomachache shortly after. He was then sent to the nurse’s office and his mother, Lois Wolobah, was called to pick him up. According to Wolobah, the nurse said he ate a tortilla chip and got sick. Wolobah picked up her son and brought him home to get some rest, likely believing it was just a stomachache. Harris even seemed to be feeling better, enough so to go to basketball tryouts around 4:30. That’s when his brother yelled out to their mother that Harris had fainted. Harris Wolobah was then rushed to the emergency room but died at the hospital.
An autopsy has been conducted on Wolobah’s body, but the full results will not be released to the public, according to Timothy McGuirk, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. This is because, according to McGuirk, a person’s medical records are private.
Now as his family works to make sense of the tragedy, Lois Wolobah wants to warn other parents about the Paqui 1-chip-challenge that she believes caused her son’s death. It is her hope to prevent parents from having to go through the same pain and heartache that she now faces.