Family of teen who died from choking game speaks out

Local News

Evansville, Ind. (WEHT) – Now to a family’s message of giving and with it, a warning.

The mother, father and sister of Evansville teenager Mason Bogard, who died this month from what they say is a social media choking game, opened their hearts to Eyewitness News about Mason’s death and the young man he was.

For the first time we are hearing from the family of Mason Bogard, their mission is to bring awareness to other parents and teens who might be lured into similar social media games.

“He just had no fear of anything he was larger than life” said Mason’s dad Steve. 

Mason was a 15-year-old freshman at Reitz High School who loved the outdoors, hiking, fishing and camping, a drummer and natural born fear seeker, Mason loved to give back and watch over people, his parents remember his kindhearted soul.

“He would see a homeless person, he would say mom pull over, we’ve got to give him some money” I’d say “buddy you don’t know if he’s really homeless” Mason’s answer was always “You don’t know that he’s not” Joann said.

That’s how Mason’s family remembers him, a happy, witty, off the wall teen, who was a true daredevil, his life came to an abrupt end after his parents say he was playing a social media choking game.

“These things are out there, as a parent we tried to stay ahead of him checking his phone- checking his computer” Joann added.

The CDC says 82 children have died since 2008 from playing the choking game, 71 were boys between the age of 12 and 16.

The Bogard family wants parents to talk to their children and be honest.

“Getting parents educated, talk to your kids, you may have to be forceful, you may not be their friend at that time – but that’s ok you know” Steve said. 

The Bogard’s say there was no question when doctors asked about organ donation. Mason’s liver, kidneys and heart went to five people across the United States.

“It would have been easy to say, we can’t do this anymore, were done, but the organ donation, the Indiana Donor Network, they need 36/48 hours to get it all worked out” Joann and Steve say.

For Mason’s family, the hardest time of their life, was waiting.

“He was such a giving person.” “If it were me laying there, I have not doubt he would have been the one to say, ‘let’s do it’ Dad doesn’t need those parts anymore, somebody can use them, I fully believe that” Steve went on to say.

The Bogard’s say they are learning to find comfort in knowing Mason will live on, giving others a second chance.

“My message would be cherish it, cherish every minute, he gave you a minute, pay it forward, do good things, live life to the fullest, because that’s what he did, he lived life to the fullest” Joann said.

Joann said she’s getting thousands of messages from across the world- a local politician is interested in Mason’s Message and looks forward to working with the family in the near future, details are still being worked out.

An official cause of death for mason has not been released. The case is still under investigation.

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(This story was originally published on May 15, 2019)

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