The family of Joshua Haileyesus faced their worst fear this week after he died on Saturday, three weeks from being placed on life support due to partaking in a viral TikTok challenge.
“We would like to update everyone that this evening, after fighting the good fight on life support for 19 days, Joshua has gone off to be with the Lord,” a GoFundMe page launched in his honor stated.
Joshua’s family who reside in Aurora, Colorado, added, “To everyone who has prayed relentlessly and shared our burden during this trying time, we thank you. Your prayers and your love have comforted us and we are grateful for your support. We will be sharing funeral arrangements in the coming days for those who are interested in attending.”
Joshua was discovered by his twin brother on March 22 after he took part in the “Blackout Challenge.” According to PEOPLE, his brother attempted to resuscitate him until neighbors arrived and helped call an ambulance.
Right after Joshua was hospitalized, doctors informed his family that his condition could warrant a heartbreaking outcome. From the GoFundMe page, the family was able to raise over $180,000 for his medical expenses to help aid in the fight for his life.
The family also cautioned other parents whose children actively use TikTok.
“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,” they continued on the GoFundMe page. “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.”
Joshua’s father, Zeryihun Haileyesus echoed the severity last month in an interview with The Denver Channel.
“It’s not a joke at all. And you can treat it as if somebody is holding a gun. This is how dangerous this is,” he said.
Last month TikTok released a statement to the Associated Press and extended “profound sympathies” after Joshua’s story went viral.
“At TikTok, we have no higher priority than protecting the safety of our community, and content that promotes or glorifies dangerous behavior is strictly prohibited and promptly removed to prevent it from becoming a trend on our platform,” the company said in a statement.
According to PEOPLE, The Aurora Police Crimes Against Children’s Unit is investigating the case.
Sending condolences to Joshua’s family and loved ones at this time.
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