Joshua Haileyesus' father said that doctors informed him shortly after the incident that Joshua would not survive.
A young boy in Colorado was left in critical condition after he attempted TikTok's latest yet deadly viral challenge called the "Blackout Challenge." Joshua Haileyesus participated in the trend which requires one to choke themselves until they pass out and on March 22, the 12-year-old's twin brother found him unconscious on the bathroom floor of their home. In a GoFundMe account created for the boy, it was revealed that Joshua may have partaken in the dare which examines how long people can hold their breath. His parents, Haileyesus Zerihun and Fasika Aemro, were completely unaware of this challenge and believe that their son was "completely unaware of the risks involved."
The game has apparently been around for years and some refer to it as "The Game of Choking," "Passout Challenge," "Speed Dreaming," or simply "The Fainting Game." However, it suddenly gained traction on TikTok recently and Joshua participated in this dangerous game. "On Monday, March 22nd, Joshua was discovered breathless on the bathroom floor by his twin brother who tried to resuscitate him until neighbors and the ambulance arrived," read the fundraiser page, which has raised over $157,000. "He is currently being intubated and the doctors have said that his chance for survival is extremely unlikely," it continued.
Joshua was described as an "incredibly intelligent, funny, caring, and gifted 12 year old" who would "learn and master new hobbies out of pure curiosity and drive" alongside his brother. "Whether it was playing soccer, barbecuing sophisticated meals (better than any adult in our family can), practicing professional photography, experimenting with 3D modeling software, learning the ins-and-outs of acting including screen-writing and costume design, playing guitar, and planning his future of joining the Army before becoming a First Responder, Joshua has an excitement and passion for growing and learning. Beyond his tenacity for knowledge, Joshua has a love for people that you wouldn’t expect in a child. Since he was very young, he always expressed compassion for others. He would pray for people who were sick, stand up for others who were bullied at school, and practice CPR in case he ever needed to save someone else’s life," continued the page.
The boy, who was born 2 minutes before his twin brother, is the eldest of his three brothers—Caleb, Abenezer, and Nathan. Understandably, the family was left "devastated beyond belief" by the tragedy that befell Joshua. "We are saddened that someone who has a future as promising as Joshua is in such a critical and life-threatening situation at the moment," continued the post. Speaking to KCNC, the boy's father, Haileyesus, said that doctors informed him shortly after the incident that Joshua would not survive. "I couldn't take it there, I was on the floor, I was crying," he told the outlet, according to PEOPLE. "It was just heartbreaking to see him, laying on the bed." Joshua is currently in the Children's Hospital ICU in Denver, Colorado, and his dad is not yet ready to give up on him. "If I just give up on him, I’m just walking away from son," said Haileyesus. "He’s a fighter, I can see him fighting, I am praying for him every day."
The family went on to warn other parents of this deadly challenge and hoped that no one would experience the same suffering as they did. "We are also concerned for other families who like ourselves, may not be aware of the existence of the Blackout Challenge and others like it. We are desperate not only to bring Joshua home, but to ensure that nothing like this happens to anyone else. We urge the community to spend awareness about Joshua and the real risks involved in not having knowledge of what kinds of activities children are involved in," read the GoFundMe page. Joshua is not the only victim of the "Blackout Challenge." Back in 2018, 11-year-old Carson Bodkins from Colorado passed away while playing this dangerous viral game, according to PEOPLE. The following year, an Indiana teen named Mason Bogard lost his life after attempting the dare. In 2008, 82 deaths of youths were attributed to the "choking game" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.