Da’Vorius Gray thought it was all a game, holding his breath and tying a scarf tightly around his neck until he passed out. He was playing “Passout Challenge” last Monday night, upstairs in his Lyman, South Carolina, home.
But something happened and the “game” went horribly wrong — and Darius died the next day. He was just 11.
“This is just a guess, but he and his sister were playing, and his sister left the room, and he may have stumbled or fallen, and choked himself,” Mark Pangel, a a family friend and the pastor of 4 Points Church in Greer, South Carolina, told LifeZette.
“He wanted to make it look like he was hanging himself as a game — and it cost him his life.”
Pangel is the one who baptized Da’Vorius, nicknamed “Chi Chi.”
Passout Challenge, Hangman and other online games of asphyxia are not games at all, but deadly challenges that kids participate in and then post on the Internet. The aim is to go the farthest and shock viewers, passing out on purpose — sometimes even with friends pushing on their friends’ chests as they lose consciousness, sometimes also strangling themselves — and recording it all, for fleeting Internet glory.
Gray’s mom, Latrice Rice Hurst, wants parents to monitor their children’s online habits and know exactly what they’re doing, so that no one has to suffer as she is suffering, said Mark Pangel.
“I’ve been with the family, I was there in the hospital when Darius passed,” the pastor told LifeZette. “We all prayed for a miracle, but God saw fit to bring Chi Chi home.”
Through Pangel, Hurst released a statement about her son’s death, and what she wants other parents to know about the dangers of unsupervised time online.
"If I could rewind time, I would go back and monitor heavily his use of social media, YouTube and the Internet," she said in her statement. "He (Darius) was on a sight called ‘Kick’ and had been playing games called ‘Hangman’ and 'Pass-out Challenge,' where kids choke themselves to the point of passing out and it is apparently a widely popular game."
She added, "He showed no signs of depression or destructive behavior, but Davorius was a prankster and loved to play tricks. He talked about how much he loved his family and people and never showed us any sign otherwise. I would just say I don’t believe young people should be on social media and it should be limited to adults, or at the very least with extreme adult supervision where the parents can see everything that takes place on the sites. (This) should be a requirement."
She went on to say: "Chi Chi loved people and loved life. I hate (that) this happened and I feel part of me died but I feel Chi Chi has been given a platform to help others in his passing to realize the dangers of playing with fire. This tragic loss of my son has opened up dialogue between students and teachers, students praying and our community coming together, understanding the only healing is through a relationship with Jesus Christ."
Said Mark Pangel, "If we aren’t going to parent our kids, then someone else will, and it’s not going to be anyone we want doing that job. We are so hoping that (this child's) passing helps save lives; that’s why his mother is reaching beyond her own pain and suffering and reaching out to say something about these games and social media use in general for kids."
The death of Da’Vorius Gray death has caused the community, black and white alike, to pull together through their shared Christian faith.
"Here’s our hope," said Pangel. "That God will use our pain — particularly the family’s pain — as a platform. The problem is that we think we can always buy our way out of things. But then something like this tragedy happens, and we see that we are all lost, all hopeless, and we need to meet the Savior."
Pangel paused, then added quietly, "The shortest passage in the Bible is, ‘Jesus wept.’ He didn’t weep because Lazarus was dead — he knew Lazarus was just fine, he was with the Lord. Jesus wept because Lazarus’ family was hurting."
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