Family of 14-year-old sets up donation fund

Autopsy shows Ashley died of air embolism; medical examiner rules the death 'accidental'

The family of Ashley Long has set up a donation fund to raise money for funeral arrangements and legal fees after the 14-year-old Eagle Point girl died Saturday after inhaling helium at a party in Medford.

Ashley's aunt Megan Long said the family plans to hire an attorney and pursue "to the fullest extent of the law" action against Katherine McAloon, a 27-year-old woman arrested at the home where Ashley was found.

McAloon was charged with seven counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor and two counts of delivering marijuana to a minor. She was lodged in the Jackson County Jail over the weekend.

"We want justice to be served and not someone to get off just because they have a good lawyer," Long said.

An autopsy performed Tuesday determined Ashley died from an air embolism caused by the inhalation of helium from a pressurized canister, police said. An air embolism occurs when air bubbles enter an artery or vein and cause a fatal blockage.

Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. James Olson ruled that the death was "accidental." A toxicology report on Ashley won't be available for more than a month, police said.

An eighth-grade student at Eagle Point Middle School, Ashley was drinking alcohol at an apartment in the 3100 block of Alameda Street Saturday when she inhaled helium from a compressed canister and collapsed, police said. With Ashley were several other teenagers ages 13 to 16 and McAloon, who lives at the residence.

Long said Ashley wasn't a drinker and stayed out of trouble. Ashley had no juvenile record in Oregon, according to Jackson County Community Justice.

Ashley's grandmother Debbie Malone said the girl was a helpful, caring person who knew how to read a person's face and offer support.

"She was seriously a model granddaughter," said Malone. "She was caring. One of those kids that touched your heart."

Malone said that when they heard about the way Ashley died, the family was shocked — "last thing we ever expected."

"We would have never dreamed this of Ashley," said Malone.

Long said the family still is working to plan a funeral or memorial service for Ashley, but it is looking for financial support. She said if Ashley's death is classified as a crime, at least one funeral home has offered financial assistance for her burial.

Donations can be made under the name "Ashley Jean Long" at any Wells Fargo Branch, Long said.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or Reporter Chris Conrad contributed to this story.

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