Clayton-le-Woods boy, 11, died after TikTok craze went tragically wrong, say family

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"He died instantly after a sleepover at a friend's house. The boys had tried a dangerous TikTok craze," say his family.

The tragic death of an 11-year-old boy has left his family in Clayton-le-Woods and South Ribble 'completely devastated'.

Tommie-lee Gracie Billington died on Saturday after he was found unresponsive at a friend's house in Greenset Close, Lancaster.

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He suffered a suspected cardiac arrest at around 12.30pm and was rushed to hospital. Sadly, paramedics were unable to save him.

Lancashire Police said his death is currently 'unexplained' and an investigation is ongoing, but his grandmother Tina Burns said the 11-year-old died after taking part in a dangerous TikTok craze which went tragically wrong.

"We need the cause, the reason to get out there in the media of what killed my grandson," said Tina in an emotional plea to the Lancashire Post.

"He died instantly after a sleepover at a friend's house. The boys had tried the TikTok craze 'chroming'.

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"Tommie-lee went into cardiac arrest immediately and died right there and then. The hospital did everything to try and bring him back but nothing worked. He was gone."

Tommie-lee Gracie Billington, 11, from Preston, died in an incident at a home in Greenset Close, Lancaster on SaturdayTommie-lee Gracie Billington, 11, from Preston, died in an incident at a home in Greenset Close, Lancaster on Saturday
Tommie-lee Gracie Billington, 11, from Preston, died in an incident at a home in Greenset Close, Lancaster on Saturday | Tina Burns

"A bright boy with a heart of gold"

Paying tribute to her grandson, Tina said Tommie-lee was "a bright, energetic boy", "the life and soul of any room", who loved to watch Preston North End with his dad Graham.

"He had a heart of gold just like his dad", said Tina. "Our family is utterly devastated."

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"We want TikTok taken down"

Tina, a teaching assistant at a local school, said her grandson's death "is breaking us all" as she and her family have been left reeling by Tommie-lee's sudden passing.

Tommie-lee lived with his mum Sherri in Lancaster whilst dad Graham's side of the family live in Clayton-le-Woods and the South Ribble area.

Tina said both families want to raise awareness of the dangers of TikTok for youngsters and they are calling on the social media giant to do more to safeguard children.

She said: "Both our families are utterly devastated but we all want the same thing. We don't want any other children to follow TikTok or be on social media.

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"In fact, we want to get TikTok taken down and no children to be allowed on any social media under 16 years of age.

"This is breaking us all but we want to help save other children's lives and give families awareness to keep their children safe.

"I have had so many messages from parents thanking me for making them aware.

"One person said that she had no idea about these social media crazes and that her children happily stay in their rooms on TikTok.

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"She never knew there were things like this on it. She has now removed all social media from their devices and is so grateful that we are openly talking about it.

"I am a teaching assistant and work in year 5/6. I have been open and honest with my headteacher so that we can get this important message out to all schools too."

Tommie-lee, 11, with his dad Graham BillingtonTommie-lee, 11, with his dad Graham Billington
Tommie-lee, 11, with his dad Graham Billington | Tina Burns

What is chroming?

Chroming, which is also known as huffing or sniffing, is when someone inhales toxic chemicals. These include paint, solvent, aerosol cans, glue, cleaning products, or petrol.

These inhalants affect the central nervous system and slow down brain activity, resulting in a short-term “high".

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The practice is extremely dangerous and can also result in slurred speech, dizziness, and hallucinations. Nausea, vomiting, and disorientation are also common side effects. But the results can be fatal. Inhaling these solvents can result in a heart attack or suffocation.

Chroming or huffing can also permanently damage the brain, liver, and kidneys.

Tommie-lee, 11, with his dad Graham Billington and grandmother Tina Burns at a Preston North End matchTommie-lee, 11, with his dad Graham Billington and grandmother Tina Burns at a Preston North End match
Tommie-lee, 11, with his dad Graham Billington and grandmother Tina Burns at a Preston North End match | Tina Burns

GoFundMe to help family

Tina said the support her family have received from friends, colleagues and the community has been 'amazing' in the dark days that have followed her grandson's sudden death.

"We have loads of friends that are doing raffles etc. The support that we are receiving is truly amazing and we are so very grateful," said Tina.

Julie Hartley, a friend of Tommie-lee's mum Sherri, has set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral costs. You can donate here.

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