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Nebraska Boy Dies Playing 'The Choking Game'

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Ketv7: The small Nebraska community of David City, northwest of Lincoln, is mourning the death of an 11-year-old boy. The Butler County Sheriff's Office believes Drew Fiala died from suffocation while trying something known among children and teenagers as "the choking game."

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"I don't even know how to explain it," said Luke Fiala, Drew's father. "Not even getting hit in the gut is even comparable to how I felt, you know?"

Drew was the only son of Luke and Kandie Fiala.

"You always knew he was there," said Drew's mother, Kandie Fiala. "He made his presence known."

Drew's parents and older sister remember him singing loudly with the radio, break-dancing and trying to be the center of attention.

"He didn't hold back," said Luke. "He was 110 percent all the time with everything."

Photos of Drew show a busy little boy; on the soccer field, on the wrestling mat, on the football field and in several tuxedos for family weddings and events. When Kandie couldn't find her son on a recent Friday, she wasn't worried until several hours passed and Drew still hadn't returned home.

"For three hours we looked for him and looked for him and looked for him," said Kandie. "The whole town was looking for him. I'm sitting here the whole time, running around town to see if he's walking down the street, coming from a buddy's house. He was upstairs the whole time, in his room."

Drew Fiala was found in his room with a belt around his neck. He had suffocated.

Luke Fiala had never heard of the game. Kandie Fiala said she had heard of it as a child, but never as something done alone.

"I think it was an experiment. I really do," said Luke. "I think he found out about it through his friends and he wanted to experiment."

Word of what happened to Drew quickly spread throughout David City. By the next day, Butler County Sheriff Mark Hecker was fielding calls about Drew's death and about the choking game.

"If you've got one kid doing it, you'd be foolish to think that's the only kid that's heard about it, thought about it, tried it," said Hecker.

A quick Internet search by KETV revealed hundreds of videos showing kids and teenagers making themselves pass out for the rush of coming to.

Sheriff Hecker said after talking to students, he knows the trend is in his community and it's a concern.

"I absolutely hate the 'fainting game' or the 'choking game' title," said Hecker. "You hear that, kids think it's a game. It's not a game. It's a life and death situation. There's no game to it."

Back at the Fialas' home, a strong breeze rattles the wind chimes in the front yard.

"When the wind blows, I can hear him," said Kandie. She remembers one of the last conversations she had with her son.

"He curled up on the couch with me and said, 'You know, Mom, I turn 12 next week and I promise, when I turn 12, I'm gonna be more mature.'"

Drew Fiala was buried on what would have been his 12th birthday.

"We need this to stop," said Luke. "We don't want any more of these deaths that should never, ever happen. I would have never thought this. Never. There were just too many things in Drew's life that we wanted to do. Or he wanted to do. Too many things."

Butler County is hosting a public forum for parents and families to discuss the choking game. It will be held on Tuesday, Mar. 30, at David City Aquinas School at 7 p.m.

Hecker suggested all parents learn the warning signs of children trying the choking game:

* Sudden bruises or marks around your child's neck * Ropes, belts or other materials seemingly showing up without reason in your child's possession * Your child starts spending more time alone behind closed doors * Check your computer for Web sites or searches about the choking game

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