14-year-old Ashley Long was at a slumber party in east Medford when she immediately collapsed after inhaling the gas. Autopsy results show she died from an air embolism caused by inhaling helium from a pressurized canister.
Since then, her mother Lori Earp has become an activist warning others about the dangers of helium. To keep a tragedy like this from happening to other families, Earp’s appeared on national television, wrote a book and even participated in a documentary called ‘Rubber Jellyfish.’ The documentary focuses on the impact helium balloons have on the environment and ocean life.
Two people were charged in Long’s death. Richard Mowery pleaded no contest to criminally negligent homicide. He received 90 days of prison time and three years post-prison supervision. Katie Mcaloon received more than two years in jail after pleading to criminal mistreatment, and delivery of alcohol and marijuana to minors.
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