A 14-year-old Oregon teenager is dead after inhaling helium at a party. Ashley Long went to a party and was pressured into inhaling helium from a tank in order to make her voice sound funny.
She passed out and later died at a hospital. She died from an obstruction in a blood vessel caused by inhaling helium from a pressurized tank.
“That helium tank got going around,” said Ashley’s stepfather, Justin Earp, according to the Associated Press. “It got to my daughter. My daughter didn’t want to do it. It was peer pressure. They put a mask up to her face. They said it would be OK. ‘It’s not gonna hurt you. It’ll just make you laugh and talk funny.’”
It did hurt her. Now she’s dead.
Ashley told her friends she was going to a slumber party. Instead of swapping boy stories and watching movies, she and her friends piled into a car and headed to a condo, where the big sister of one of her friends was throwing a party.
After drinking in the car and drinking some more in the condo, it was time for Ashley’s turn on the helium tank. It was one of the last breaths she ever took.
It turns out inhaling helium isn’t really the harmless party prank it’s cracked up to be.
According to Dr. Mark Morocco, associate professor of emergency medicine at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles, inhaling helium is similar to what happens when a scuba diver comes up to the surface too fast.
A gas bubble can enter the bloodstream and can then block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke.
Death from inhaling helium is so uncommon that the American Association Poison Control Centers lumps it in with other gases like methane and propane. Only three deaths were recorded in 2010, said spokeswoman Loreeta Canton.
Police have arrested 27-year-old Katherine McAloon, the owner of the condo, on charges of providing alcohol and marijuana to minors.
When Ashley lost consciousness, someone tried to revive her using CPR, then they called 911. Paramedics tried to revive her and rushed her to a local hospital.
“About 11:30 we got a phone call from police saying they were doing CPR on our daughter,” said Justin Earp.
At the hospital, they informed that Ashley had died.
Her family has established a foundation called Ashley’s Hope to help get the word out regarding the risks of inhaling helium.
Loriann Earp is devastated at the loss of her daughter.
“My whole chest is collapsed and my heart is broken,” she said, sobbing. “I don’t understand.”
Image: AP Photo/Jeff Barnard
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- Oregon girl, 14, dies after inhaling helium at party (mercurynews.com)