The “choking game” is a misunderstood activity causing death and suffering for thousands of families worldwide, including families in and around York County. The York County Coroner’s Office is teaming with local school districts to offer an educational program about the deadly game at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 27 at Sullivan Middle School in Rock Hill that is open to anyone in the greater-Charlotte area.

The event has drawn national attention and welcomes representatives from Erik’s Cause, a California-based non-profit organization committed to saving kid’s lives and keep families from having to endure the devastation of losing a child to preventable “pass-out” activities. Judy Rogg created Erik’s Cause after her 12-year-old son, Erik Robinson, died from the choking game in April 2010. Much closer to home, Rogg will be joined on stage at the October 27th event with local survivor families to help combat this “game” with the most powerful weapon at our disposal: education.

School and community leaders organizing the event aim to define the “choking game” and the harmful effects of this activity and to identify reasons why children participate. Moderated by award-winning WBTV News anchor Molly Grantham, you will hear directly from local families who had child die while playing this “game” and learn from local and national panelist how you can prevent more senseless tragedies. Rick and Jennifer Steele, parents of 14-year-old Carson Steele, and Garrett and Stacy Pope, parents of 11-year-old Garrett Pope, Jr., will share heart-wrenching stories about the dangers of this awful game.

According to data available from Erik’s Cause last updated in May 2016, there have been 14 deaths in South Carolina attributed to the choking game or similar “pass-out” activities. Sadly, that figure does not include Carson Steele, of Rock Hill, or Garrett Pope, Jr., of Indian Land. One week after his 14th birthday on June 18, 2016, Carson Steele died from playing the choking game. Two months later on August 31, Garrett Pope, Jr. lost his life to the same game.

In both situations, parents had very little information and awareness of the game that has been played for many years under different names. The educational event on October 27 will ensure you are aware of dangers of the choking game and equip you with information to prevent future senseless tragedies in our communities.