Doherty Memorial High School is in mourning after a sophomore student died suddenly on Friday.
Harris Wolobah, 14, died after participating in a social media challenge involving eating an extremely spicy chip, according to a GoFundMe page created by his family. Relatives said the teenager had complications after the “One Chip Challenge,” according to the page.
“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!” organizer Tashia Roberts wrote on the GoFundMe page on behalf of the Lama and Wolobah family. “The pain our family is experiencing is unimaginable.”
Wolobah wasn’t feeling well in school Friday and went to the nurse’s office, according to Dan O’Brien, a spokesman for the Worcester public schools. Wolobah was dismissed early so his parents could take him home.
Around 4:30 p.m., emergency responders went to Wolobah’s home on Rustic Drive after receiving a medical call. He was not breathing and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. Authorities haven’t confirmed the cause of death.
“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,” Worcester Schools Superintendent Rachel Monárrez wrote in a statement. “My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him.”
The school is offering grief counseling and emotional support services to students and staff, she wrote.
The Paqui One Chip Challenge dares users to eat a tortilla chip containing Carolina reaper pepper and Naga viper pepper and see how long they can last without drinking or eating something else for relief. The chipmaker’s website advises consumers not to eat the chips if they are sensitive to spicy foods or allergic to peppers, and to seek medical assistance if they experience difficulty breathing, fainting, or extended nausea.
“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,” Monárrez said.