Lanterns Fill Night Sky Celebrating Ashley Long's Life

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, January 9 2013 at 6:38 PM, Updated: Wed, January 9 2013 at 7:48 PM

It's been nearly a year since a 14-year-old Ashley Long from Eagle Point died after inhaling helium at a party in East Medford.

Wednesday would have been her 15th birthday.

Roughly 40 people attended a celebration of life for Ashley at the Perl Funeral Home in Medford. Loved ones sent more than 70 Chinese purple lanterns into the sky in her memory. They chose purple because it was her favorite color.

The choice to not use balloons...was a deliberate one.

"Ashley died from Helium," said Lori Earp, Ashley's mother.

"Helium is what you would put in the balloons to make them go up and this way we're not using Helium."

Ashley Long died in February 2012.

"It's hard. Still cry every day," said her mother.

Two people have been arrested in the case.

The first, Katherine (Katie) McAloon, who's charged with first degree criminal mistreatment, seven counts of delivery of marijuana to a minor and seven counts of furnishing alcohol to a person under 21. In June of 2012 she plead not guilty.

The second person arrested was Richard Ward Mowery. He's facing one count of criminally negligent homicide. He also plead not guilty.

Long's parents said they frequently called her "Ash," a shortened version of her name, and interestingly enough, family members said, the trial will begin in February, on Ash Wednesday.

"We're praying for justice. That's all we can do," said Earp.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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