Eagle Point teen dies after inhaling helium

An autopsy revealed that 14-year-old Ashley Long’s immediate cause of death was “traumatic helium gas and air embolism due to inhalation of helium gas mixture from a pressurized canister,” according to Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. James Olson. The manner of death,”accidental.” A toxicology report will not be available for six to eight weeks.

Saturday, Feb. 18, at 11 p.m., police and medical personnel were dispatched to a residence in the 3100 block of Alameda Street for a 14- year- old girl who was unconscious and not breathing. The caller reported that the juvenile had ingested alcohol and helium. 

The teen, Ashley Long, of Eagle Point, was tended to by medical personnel and transported to Rogue Valley Medical Center. Shortly after her arrival at the hospital, she was pronounced dead.

Ashley was an 8th grade student at Eagle Point Middle School. According to Michael Remick, spokesperson for School District 9, counselors were available when the school opened on Tuesday, Feb. 21, following the Feb. 20 holiday. 

Several people were interviewed and the scene was processed for evidence.  Medford Police learned that several underage boys and girls were at the location, approximate ages 13-16 years old.  The investigation also revealed that at least one adult on scene provided the juveniles alcohol and marijuana.  The juveniles also had access to a helium tank and some were inhaling the helium gas. 

Investigators believe that seconds after the victim inhaled the helium gas, she collapsed. 

One adult female who resides at the location of occurrence, Katherine  Diane McAloon, 27 years old, was lodged at the Jackson County Jail for seven counts of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor and two counts of Delivering Marijuana to a Minor.  Bail: $38,000.  She was reported to have been bailed.

A press release on Feb. 21 said Medford Police  investigators  identified all of the involved parties who were present during the incident. Upon completion of the investigation, the case will be presented to the district attorney’s office for prosecution.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

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