HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Parents in Henderson County, North Carolina are warning the community about a dangerous game they say killed their son.
Richard and Hazel Hoerz said their son Nathan was loving, funny and adventurous and they miss him every day.
They said Nathan died while using his father's braided belt to play the "choking game."
"Usually, if they're doing it together, they'll hold each other's throats, and it gives them a rush of adrenaline, and then they pass out," they explained.
They say they had no idea their son was playing the deadly game, but in retrospect recognize the signs. They didn't know the game existed at the time and wish they would have been educated about it then, so they could have stopped Nathan before it was too late.
"I think the parents of preteen males, who are fearless, might have the discussion with them. A lot of parents don't know the signs either. And I think parents need to be educated on it," Richard Hoerz said.
They say their son was alone when he died, and they think he didn't realize how dangerous the game was.
The department of health lists the warning signs of teens who play the game as bloodshot eyes, headaches, marks on the neck. They also say to watch out for disorientation and irritability.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, like the Hoerz family, 92 percent of parents whose children die playing the game don't know it exists until it's too late, which is why Nathan's mom and dad want to get the word out.
"If it works for one kid, we'll never know, but if it does, that's worth a trip down here," Richard Hoerz said.