Parents Beware: TikTok Trend Leaves Teen with 76% of Body Burned: 'He is Unrecognizable'


A TikTok challenge involving a makeshift “flame-thrower” landed a North Carolina teen in a burn center.

Mason Dark, 16, reportedly inspired by a dare on the social media platform, was using a lighter and a can of spray paint to improvise a torch Sunday, his mother, Holli Dark, told WRAL-TV.

As so often happens with TikTok challenges, the stunt went horribly wrong.

The paint can exploded, setting the boy’s clothing on fire.

“They all heard a big boom, and then Mason came running out and [he] started taking off his shirt,” she told the news outlet.

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He then jumped into a nearby river to extinguish the flames.

Both those actions — ripping off the shirt and jumping in the water — complicated the situation, the mother said.

“[H]e’s got the third-degree burns … it’s like a T in his back and it was from him taking off his shirt, and then it got stuck or something,” Dark said.

Heidi Simpson, the boy’s grandmother, quoted Holli Dark in a GoFundMe appeal as saying that the boy also faces a high risk of infection from the river water.

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Photos taken shortly after the accident showed Mason climbing out of the river, his upper body charred from the flames. But the boy’s mother said he looks drastically different now.

WARNING: The following video clip contains imagery the viewer may find disturbing

“The way he looked when those kids saw him when he first came in, to what he looks like now, it’s 100 times different,” Dark said.

“He is unrecognizable, unrecognizable.”

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The Wake Forest teen was rushed to the University of North Carolina Burn Center at Chapel Hill, where he was “wrapped like a mummy … bandaged from head to toe,” WRAL reported.

The second- and third- degree burns cover 76 percent of his body, his mother said.

He has already undergone skin-graft surgery — “the first of many,” according to Holli Dark, who asked supporters to pray for her son’s recovery.

“He is in an incredible amount of pain and is sedated,” she said.

Now, instead of looking forward to getting his driver’s license and working at his job, Mason is facing six months in the burn unit, spoiling his plans to continue playing football at his high school and running track this summer for a local club.

In an update on the fundraiser appeal Thursday, Simpson wrote, “Mason has made it past the first 24 hrs, Praise the Lord!

“They are trying to regulate his body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. He has handled that today which they were pleased with.

“They seem to have the medication figured out for now so he hasn’t woke up or got agitated.

“We thank everyone that has donated! We are humbled by everyone’s kindness! We thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, support and love. … Please keep praying!!!! The Lord is in control!”

As of midday Saturday, the family had raised more than $21,000 of their $25,000 goal to help with medical bills, gas, food, and housing during Mason’s hospital stay.

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.