Northern Ireland

Family of 'helium death' teen warn of inhalation danger

The family of a schoolgirl who died from inhaling helium have warned other parents of the dangers of the gas.

Jordan McDowell, 13, from Newtownabbey was found dead by her mother after inhaling helium from a balloon bought for her birthday last Sunday.

Jordan's parents, Karen and Gareth McDowell, said they wanted to prevent other families from going through a similar experience.

"We didn't realise the dangers in it, " Mr McDowell said.

"We just don't want anyone else to go through this, it's been like a living nightmare."

Jordan's grandfather Ronnie Hamilton said he would be happy if he could get helium banned or restricted.

"I don't want anyone to go through what we've been through and it's about time legislation was brought in," Mr Hamilton said.

"What I would say to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles is give your children a hug and tell them how much you love them.

"Do not buy them helium, it is death, you are buying something so dangerous.

"We didn't know the dangers - we do know now and it's devastating."

Jordan's mother Karen McDowell said she still can't believe her daughter is gone.

"I keep saying to people it's like she's gone on holiday, but she'll be coming back soon, but she won't; she'll never be back."

Mr Hamilton said the family hoped that lives could be saved by raising awareness of the dangers.

"Helium is marketed as an inert gas, which makes it sound like a 'safe' substance, it's not and we don't want people to inhale it.

"Jordan was such a fun and loving girl, who always had a smile for you, and now she's gone and it just isn't worth it."

Mr and Mrs McDowell said the family are determined to stay strong.

"We have to keep it together for our other two, and we've had lots of support," Mr McDowell said.

"Jordan brought us joy for 13 short years and we will treasure those."

More on this story