Belfast Telegraph

Jordan’s parents in helium warning

The family of the Newtownabbey schoolgirl who lost her life after inhaling helium from a party balloon, have spoken of their sorrow in a heartfelt plea to the wider community about the dangers of the popular children’s party accessory.

Jordan McDowell’s parents and grandfather visited BBC Radio Ulster on Monday, November 22, in their bid to warn others about the risks of helium — just eight days after their “ray of sunshine” was found dead in her bedroom after inhaling a lethal dose of the gas.

Ronnie Hamilton, Jordan’s grandfather, said: “Don’t buy them if you have younger brothers and sisters, are grandparents or have nieces and nephews, give them a hug — tell them you love them. Hugs don’t kill, helium balloons do.

“You buy these for very little, up to £2, and people just don’t realise the dangers involved because of the words non-toxic.”

Jordan was given helium balloons from her grandparents on her 13th birthday, themselves admitting they had no idea this much-loved children’s product could prove fatal.

Jordan’s mother, Karen McDowell, said: “I asked her to take them up the stairs so the wee ones wouldn’t get them and her wee brother went up to the toilet. I went up to see what was keeping him and that’s when I found her on the floor.”

She tearfully added: “I just couldn’t believe it.”

Meanwhile, Jordan’s fellow school chums at Monkstown Community School are still trying to come to terms with her tragic and untimely death and tributes continue to flood in through the Facebook site set up in memory of the fun-loving pupil.

A special assembly was held at her school following the news.

Acting principal Raymond Leeman said: “Jordan was one of those girls who was always so full of life.”

He also added that Jordan’s family have taken comfort from the support shown by pupils at the school.

It is the second time the school has been hit by tragedy this year, after former pupil Neil McFerran died from carbon monoxide poisoning in August.

Jordan’s funeral service took place last Friday, (November 19) at the Glanvarna Christian Centre, Newtownabbey, with hundreds of friends and family members attending. Leading the service of thanksgiving, Pastor Billy McClay said Jordan had been a “young lady who had something special”.

He added: “She leaves behind a legacy of joy, love and excitement. Heaven doesn’t know what hit it. She will be up there asking questions, answering questions — after this morning Heaven will never be the same again.”

The 13-year-old was interred in Carnmoney East cemetery following the morning service.

She is survived by her parents Gareth and Karen, and siblings Curtis, Jayden and Keisha.

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