Below are other stories and media links and our social media links where we share many posts not seen on this website.
WildfarmKids – Joshua Leo Engle Facebook page
shared by parents.
Alex’s Story shared with permission from his mother’s Facebook page. On November 15th, 2013 Brandi wrote on her sons page posting this:
“Hello, This is Brandi Carey Byrne, Alex’s mom. I just want to say thank you to everyone for your love and support during this awful time. The pain and heartache that we are going though is indescribable. I want to express how fragile life is and tell all you kids/young adults that you are not invincible, please don’t think for a minute that nothing can happen to you because it can. Alex was very impulsive and acted before he would think of what the consequences would be, sometimes it was something small but in this case it was obviously something big. As I used to tell him, just take 10 seconds before you do something and think of what the consequences will be. Your teenage years are the hardest to get through, your mind is so overloaded with info and feelings and decisions are hard to make. When parents talk to you about things please know we do it because we love you, we’ve been there (even though you think we don’t know anything). If any of you are doing this stupid “fainting game” or “choking game” or whatever other name you call it PLEASE STOP! It is not a game, it is not safe and the impact it has on not only you but the people around you is more than you can ever imagine. The effects it has on your brain are irreversible and if you pass out….there’s no turning back especially if you are alone.
On Saturday, October 12th, We were all home, we had a great dinner together and he was going to take a shower at 8pm, I saw him at 7:50ish and at 8:10pm I went to tell him to get his butt in the shower, during that short amount of time he did it and passed out. My husband started CPR and the paramedics were able to get a minor pulse back on him…but it was too late, the damage had been done. He was put on a breathing machine, medication to make his heart beat and he had no brain activity. For a day and a half I sat there in ICU with my beautiful son with the hope of a miracle that I knew I was impossible. I touched his hair, I kissed his face and I held his lifeless body remembering that a few hours before we were laughing and talking about the Halloween party he was going to be helping me with at work. He was acting like a monkey (he was going to be a flying monkey for the party, it was a wizard of oz theme) making his little brother Christopher laugh so hard. He always made Christopher laugh, no one could make him laugh the way Alex did.
Alex has touched many lives, in many different ways. He was a great kid, with a big heart and could always make you laugh. His smile could light up a room and his blue eyes were so beautiful. I’d like you to think of a memory of Alex and keep that safe in your heart so you can always remember him. Feel free to share it on here if you’d like. I would love to read them.”
Today March 15th, 2016 Brandi again shares:
“I just want to share this again. I feel the need will always be there to talk about how precious life is and how kids think nothing will ever happen to them. There are so many things we need to try and keep our kids safe from and although we think they’ll never do something as “stupid” as “the choking game” they might…why? Because they think they’re invincible and they get a false representation that it won’t hurt them in anyway. I’ve had to live the last 2 yrs and 5 months without my son, everyday is a struggle. No it does not get easier, I’m learning how to move through each day like walking through waves. Some days I can hold myself up and other days the waves wipe me right off my feet. As the waves commence they bring in debris, some is sharp and hurtful others are precious. I am unfortunately in a place now where much of my independence has been ripped away from me. My life as it was is no longer, my plans for the future with my family is nothing as I once hoped for. Although I have support, it has dwindled as people’s lives go on and the world still spins. Which is understandable, however, for me this pain never ends. As I try to focus on this new life and raise my little boy Christopher and plan for the arrival of my new little boy in June, I can’t help but think of all the things I was looking forward to in life with my Alexander. Nothing will ever be complete, there will always be a missing piece to this life. I’ve changed, in some ways I’m softer, in others I’m much harder. I don’t have the patience for ignorance or mean people. I don’t have the drive I once did, I don’t care about things that used to consume me and I focus on things that I used to take for granted. The ignorance in this world today is disgusting and I can’t stand having it in my life, this life that I now know is too short. I want happiness, love and peacefulness but there are so many negative people and situations that make it impossible, at least right now. I’m not strong enough yet to rid all the toxic people and situations from my life but I am working on it. For now i will try to walk through this life and focus on what’s important, I will do what I can to keep Alex’s memory alive while creating a safe and happy life for my family. I will focus on helping others who are on this unfortunate journey of child loss and take in every moment that I can with my children, I know all too well that every moment is precious. God, give me strength and courage to get through each day. Guide me me when I’m lost and carry me when I can no longer stand and courage when I’m afraid. Fill my broken heart with love when I feel empty and guide me when choices need to be made. Amen.”
Written by: Kelly’s Mom –Debbie LaRocque
We live on St. Joseph Island, a small rural community in Northern Ontario Canada. I describe it on a map as being right where three of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron join together (or close to it). It was the perfect place, a safe place to raise our family. It’s a place where, everybody knows everybody. If you didn’t, a phone call could fill you in pretty quick (the benefits of a small community). We built our house and moved in when Kelly was only a year old. His sister Alicesa was born in February 1990. The kids loved the Island and when we listed our house for sale a year before Kelly’s death, they both said that they didn’t want to move off the Island.
January 7th, 2006 started out as any other Saturday when my husband, Ovide works his weekend of 12-hour afternoon shifts. Since he got home at 5 am, he would sleep until about 1 pm and would head back to work at 3. When Kelly (18) and Alicesa (15) got up, they spent some time watching Saturday morning cartoons and one of Kelly’s favourites, the Krats Brothers show -Be the Creature. (Kelly has always been interested in nature and wild life.) Around noon, Kelly came upstairs and made himself a plate of Triskit Crackers covered with melted cheddar cheese. He had me book a haircut for him for the following Tuesday after school. It was a typical Saturday, a Saturday, wrapping up Christmas vacation.
I prepared our main meal for about 2 pm, so that my husband would be able to eat before he left for work. As usual, I called for the kids to come set the table, which they did. Kelly said that he had just eaten. He said he would eat later when he was hungry. He went back down stairs and that was the last that we saw him alive.
After our meal, my husband got ready and left for work at 3 pm. Alicesa called to invite a friend over and I threw in a load of laundry. Her friend arrived about 4 and they watched part of a movie, and ate about 5:30. After, I cleared the table, they set it up to play Scrabble.
Now, it was just past 6. Kelly’s leftover meal was still on the stove. I called him then to see if he was going to come and eat. I didn’t get a response. It was not uncommon for him to go into his room and spend a few hours there. He loved to read books and he would study scripts from Lord of the Rings (he was a huge fan). He also liked to write scripts that one day he hoped to make into movies. What was uncommon was it was now 6 hours since he had eaten. Anyone with a teenage boy in the house knows that they don’t go too long before coming in search of FOOD. I thought perhaps Kelly wasn’t feeling well, so I went downstairs to rap outside his room. Since he had a blanket for a door, I rapped on the wall. No answer. I pulled the blanket back and was shocked to find him on his knees with a rope around his neck. Alicesa told the police that I screamed and came running for the cordless phone. Dialing 911 on my way back to his room I told her not to come downstairs. I didn’t want her to see her brother like that.
The blue colouring around his mouth told me that he was already gone. I am sure it was with the help of angels, that I was able to get the rope from his neck and lie him down. I checked for a pulse and began CPR even though I knew it was too late. I just needed to do something. At 18 and 6’2″ he was still my baby boy.
The rest becomes almost dream like. Like, I was watching this happening to someone else. The ambulance and police came. The police picked up Ovide at work in Thessalon, Ontario (about 40 min. away). They told him that his son had committed suicide. He later told me that was the longest ride of his life, he couldn’t understand what he as a father, had done wrong and how would we ever get through this. He prayed. (It was later determined that it was not suicide, but what else could police say when they found someone with something around their neck that they placed there themselves.)
For me, at some point, for some reason, my mind flashed back to the fall 2005, when I had seen a brief segment of the Oprah show, where they were warning of kids playing “The Choking Game”. At the time, I thought these kids were kids out there on the edge, kids that pushed the limit, kids that were risk takers. I remember thinking, Kelly, why would you play such a game. He was a smart kid, a good kid, he was not a thrill seeker.
Kelly was not a risk taker. Kelly was anti-drugs and alcohol. His grandma will tell you that he was anti-smoking and always after her to quit. Kelly had an infectious smile. He loved to joke around and have fun. He loved life. So, how could this have happened?
“Accidental Asphyxiation” is how Kelly’s death is ruled. From shortly after his death, I have felt that there is a great need to educate kids about the deadly consequences of this so called game. Thrill Seeking Asphyxiation is known commonly as the Choking Game but is also known as; Tingling, Black Out, Space Monkey, Flat Liner, Space Cowboy, Pass Out and has been around for generations in various forms. I also feel that it is important to educate parents that it is not just kids out there on the edge, but that because of lack of education to the dangers of these types of activities, every child is vulnerable. Most of the kids that are dying are good kids, coming from good, strong families; kids that are not typically risk takers. These are kids that thought that they were being safe.
We raised both of our children to have a personal relationship with Jesus and be actively involved in the church. Kelly loved Jesus and Friday night Youth Group. He volunteered as a leader’s helper in Children’s Church. About four years before his death the Pastor asked him to be the operator of the church sound system, which he continued up until he died. Kelly asked to be baptized and was baptized in the river, a short 5 months before his death. Kelly’s teachers, bosses and co-workers loved him. When Kelly started Junior Kindergarten, I became actively involved in the Parent & Teacher Group and school events. I have been a member of Central Algoma Secondary School (CASS) School Council for many years, now as a community rep. I have always been trying to make a difference in the school life of all children.
Kelly had plans, plans for a future. Remember I mentioned earlier that Kelly was planning on getting a haircut that week. This was an appt. that he had me make just hours before his death. He had planned to pick up a college application when he got back to school, so that he could apply to Canadore College in North Bay where he planned to study cinematography (his favourite courses at school was Communications Technology and working with computers and cameras). He had plans to finish restoring his 1978 Ford Pickup before summer. He had plans to graduate in June. He was also looking forward to working his 4th summer at the Island Springs Golf Resort.
Kelly was planning on living, he loved life and you could see that in the way that he lived, even just in his smile. Kelly did not plan to die on January 7th, 2006. What he did do, was make an unwise decision to experiment with something he did not fully understand the dangers of and that action resulted in his death. He made a mistake.
I have no answers to why Kelly would even try such a thing. Has he tried this before? We definitely didn’t have any indications that he had. None of the telltale signs that normally would accompany regular participation in this activity. According to the coroner, it looks from all appearances that this was his first time. After an investigation into our family computer, the police have determined that Kelly had not visited any web sites that would have shown him how to do this. Even though no one has come forward, we do know that he had to have learned this activity from someone, maybe even participated in a group setting. According to the police and coroner, it is not something he thought up on his own. He had also taken what he thought were safety precautions. He had a quick release in place and had protected his neck from scratches or burns from the rope. He was on his knees and could have stood up anytime. I have been praying for whomever it was that showed him how to do this, that they will not do this activity again and that they will warn others of the danger. One death is one too many.
Now, we are faced with a choice to make. Do we curl up in the fetal position and watch the world pass by as we watch through our tears? Or, do we hold on to the promise that God will not give us more than we can handle, and believe that Kelly did not die in vain but that God has a plan and a purpose for what has happened. Oh, there are times when that fetal position seems so inviting. But our choice is to hold on to the hand of Jesus and trust Him to see us through. I really do not know what would happen to us if we did not have that hope Jesus. He is our comfort and strength in this time of sorrow. I pray that He will give us the strength to go where He sends us, say what He wants us to say and do what He wants us to do, and be what He wants us to be.
In May 2006, 4 short months after Kelly’s death, I began doing presentations in local schools with Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), with Sault Ste. Marie City Police, as well as doing presentations on my own. I am willing to do presentations both locally and beyond. There is a power point presentation that I use. This presentation has a very powerful audio 911 call and was put together by Police Officer, Scott Methany from Pennsylvania who has worked with other parents to put this power point together to bring awareness. I do presentations for all ages, including parents and grandparents (my favourite group is parents, because like me, we think this would never happen to our family. But it does.) I speak to community interest groups and churches. I am willing to speak to any interested groups, whether large or small. I present on my own now and have the full encouragement and support of our local city police, OPP, RCMP, First Nations Police Services and our local public board of education.
To help increase the Awareness of the Deadly Dangers of playing the Choking Game I have put together a couple of you tube videos of pics of children who have lost their life to this deadly game. And I am currently looking for a longer song so that I could add more victim pics because as parents have seen the video they are asking if I could add their child’s picture and name. The video can be seen at this LINK
In January 2006, Kelly’s name was added to a victims list on the website recording deadly games children play. Just 8 ½ short years since Kelly’s death, 667 names have been added of children/adults fallen victim to this “Game”. These numbers do not reflect the numbers that are miss-diagnosed as suicide, or the names that do not get reported to the website. Still the number shows too many children dying. I thought games were supposed to be fun.
Some might wonder how I have the strength to even do this. Get up and do presentation after presentation and tell Kelly’s story. Reliving each time, the horrific event, that devastated our lives. And do it without crying. After all I am just a mom. My only answer… I have a very strong faith in a God I cannot see. He gives me the strength each day. In the beginning it was just moment by moment. God has empowered me and opened doors for me to be able to speak in places I would not have dreamed. Without that faith and hope I would not be able to live. I am sure I would have just curled up in that fetal position and waited to die.
I felt very early on that if Kelly could say anything to me now, he’d say… “Mom -tell my friends, tell family, tell anyone that will listen to you that this is not a game. TELL THEM MOM! Tell them how dangerous it is. I made a mistake. Tell them so they don’t make that same mistake.”
I look at it this way… the day that Kelly died a large piece was ripped from my heart. God is applying a healing ointment. But there will always be a scar. The scar is the reminder of where we have been and how God is faithfully bringing us through.
Today, 8 ½ years later, I can honestly say that God is making something beautiful out of the ugliness that I seen and experienced that night –January 7th, 2006. He is saving lives. Because Kelly had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal saviour, I know that one day I will see Kelly again and spend eternity together praising our risen Lord and Saviour, the One who carried me through the darkest days of my life.
Everyone says that the hard part is getting through that first year without him -All the first holidays and his first birthday without him. For me the hardest part was the second anniversary of his death. Less and less people mentioned his name it was hard to remember the sound of his voice or even his smell (we all have our own scent). Perhaps I was having my own little pity party, but it seemed like it I was alone in my feelings. Every day I lived I was getting further from him. One day I was sharing this with another mom who lost her son to the same activity in March of 2006. I was just sharing through an email how I was feeling… How every day that I lived felt like I was getting further and further from Kelly. Then God showed me, in the midst of typing out that email that I was looking at it all wrong. Every day that I lived I wasn’t getting further from Kelly, but every day that I lived I was getting one day closer to seeing him again and spending all eternity together. Ever since that day, I remember the past fondly but I focus ahead and on God. And one day, just as He promised, I will see Kelly again. Oh how I look forward to that day. What a day glorious day that will be, when all of our loved ones we’ll see. Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Saviour? If not, Kelly would be saying… “What are you waitin’ for? I want to see you again too, you know.”
We may never know all the lives that are being affected through Kelly’s story, our story. Like a pebble thrown into a lake. The ripples of that one action, stretches out and touches distant shores. Kelly is that pebble and by sharing his story, I believe it is giving meaning to both Kelly’s life and his death. Even though we may not see the results this side of heaven.
My prayer is that by educating kids and parents with the presentations and telling Kelly’s Story wherever we go, lives will be saved, perhaps, the life of your son, daughter, grandchild, niece or nephew.
The last 3 years I have been a part of 2 private facebook groups, mainly comprised of parents from around the world that have lost children to the deadly Choking Game. I have come to realize it is a huge mission field. Many of these parents do not know the Lord and the amazing peace he has to offer. God has been using me and I stand in awe of how He works and I feel honoured and priviliged that He uses little ol’ me to minister to these hurting and broken hearts.
Most recently, I felt the Lord calling me to lead a grief support group through our local church. This fall (2014) we launched a grief ministry. I am trusting the Lord as he directs me to lead and minister to those He calls to attend this group.
From the moment I found my son I have had a peace like nothing I have ever known. I often describe it as if our family has been held in Gods hands and he has surrounded us in a bubble of protection and within that bubble is a peace beyond our human understanding. 8 ½ years later I still feel that same peace, being carried along in the hands of God. I wouldn’t want to be any place else.
Recently I have been saying… I thought I had a strong faith before Kelly died, since he went to heaven, God is growing me and I believe that I have an even stronger faith now. With the Lord I have journeyed through the valley of the shadow of death and I am looking forward to the view of heaven and eternity from the mountain top. Until then, I want to go where He wants me to go, say what He wants me to say and be what He wants me to be. Kelly’s story is HIS-Story. blog/home page address