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College students die of Helium Overdose.


Mickalino

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This happed about 5 miles away from me.

http://www.tbo.com/news/metro/MGBE94AU0OE.html

2 Bodies Found Under Helium Balloon In Lutz

By MIKE WELLS The Tampa Tribune

Published: Jun 4, 2006

LUTZ - The tomato red balloon with thick black letters advertising the Lakeview at Calusa Trace Luxury Apartments was designed to grab attention from great distances.

About 8 feet in diameter, the plastic globe was big enough for two people to climb inside.

Two people who did just that Friday night or early Saturday were found dead by an apartment complex manager, Hillsborough County sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Jason Ackerman and Sara Rydman, both 21, were underneath the partially deflated balloon at 18101 Culusa Trace Blvd., about 75 feet from Ackerman's vehicle and only blocks away from their homes.

Property developer Jeff Ricketts said the advertising balloon was filled with helium the previous day and was flown about 100 feet in the air. It was secured by a rope tied to a fence near the entrance to the 240-apartment complex.

The manager arrived between 8 and 9 a.m. to prepare for an open house. When he went to re-inflate the balloon, he saw feet sticking out from underneath, Ricketts said.

Carter said there were no signs of foul play and no visible signs of alcohol or drug use at the scene. Toxicology results from the autopsies will not be available for a few weeks, she said.

Efforts to reach Ackerman's family were unsuccessful. Rydman's mother said her daughter possibly thought it would be fun to breathe helium and talk funny; she likely had no idea how dangerous it was.

The open house was canceled as apartment staff told residents and talked with investigators and reporters.

"Our condolences go out to the parents and families of these children," Ricketts said. "It's a tragedy."

Helium is not significantly toxic enough to cause death, but being in an oxygen-depleted environment is, said Cynthia Lewis-Younger, a physician and director of the Poison Information Center at Tampa General Hospital.

"Unconsciousness can occur within a minute and a half or two minutes in an environment lacking sufficient oxygen," she said. "Death can set in after four to six minutes. ... It would have been fairly rapid."

Helium does not give a drug-like high, she said.

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Your thread title should probably be changed. You can't overdose on helium ... they probably died of a lack of oxygen.

I used to work in an optics lab where some of the lamps had to operate in an oxygen-free environment. There were always stories of people who walked into a clean room not knowing that all the oxygen had been pumped out, and after 30 seconds of breathing just nitrogen and not really knowing anything was wrong, they would just faint and could be dead within minutes ... suffice it to say we never ran any experiments without two people in the room so you could keep an eye on each other.

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