Belfast Telegraph

Teen dies inhaling gas from helium balloon

By Adrian Rutherford

A schoolgirl who died in a freak accident after inhaling gas from a helium balloon was full of smiles, devastated friends have said.

Jordan McDowell, a year nine pupil at Monkstown Community School, was found dead at her home on Sunday afternoon.

The 13-year-old has been described by friends as a “very happy and pleasant girl” who was “always smiling” and “full of fun”.

She will be buried following a service at Glenvarna Christian Centre this morning.

It is understood that Jordan, who was from Ards Drive in Newtownabbey, suffocated and died after inhaling gas from a helium balloon.

Special assemblies have been held at her school while pieces of writing and art have been collected from her friends.

The school’s acting principal, Raymond Leeman, said staff were helping pupils come to terms with the tragedy.

“The pupils were told the news in school on Monday, and they were given time for some personal reflection and to come to terms with it,” he said.

“Assemblies have been held and our school library was set aside for whichever pupils wanted to record their thoughts.

“So far we have collected around 200 pieces of writing and art.”

He described Jordan as “a great pupil” who loved school.

“She was always bright and cheerful and could often be seen even during the holidays when she came in to help her grandmother, who was one of our caretakers,” he said

“She will be sadly missed from our school community with her ready smile, happy personality and pleasant nature.”

Her distraught friends have formed a Facebook tribute site to Jordan and last night more than 1,000 members had already signed up.

One friend wrote: “I'll always love you, always in my heart. Never going to forget you babe.”

Another said: “Goodnight and God bless, wee woman. It's such a tragedy to lose such a young life. With love to your family.”

Jordan’s devastated parents Gareth and Karen and siblings Custis, Jayden and Keisha are being comforted by friends and relatives as they come to terms with the tragedy.

In a death notice published in the Belfast Telegraph this week, they wrote: “Happy, smiling, always content, loved and respected wherever she went. Always willing, helpful and kind, what a beautiful memory you leave behind.”

Following this morning’s service Jordan will be buried at Carnmoney East cemetery.

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