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Huffing death: Parents speak out after 14-year-old Aria Doherty dies

March 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A 14-year-old girl from Porter Ranch died after huffing fumes from a can of computer cleaning spray. Her parents are speaking out to try to save other young lives.

There were no warning signs for Aria Doherty's family, no hints that she was experimenting with a deadly practice called huffing. The first and only clue was when they found the honors student dead in her bedroom.

"My older daughter went to go check on her and came out screaming, 'I think she's dead,'" said mother Carolyn Doherty. "We found her just laying there with a can of inhalant still attached to her."

Carolyn and Richard Doherty are now trying to get the word out to other parents. Huffing involves inhaling chemicals in a bag. Paint is very common; freon is used too. Aria Doherty used keyboard cleaner.

"We had no idea how toxic this particular drug could be," said father Richard Doherty.

Word is spreading at Alfred B. Nobel Middle School, where Aria Doherty was a popular student.

"Very tragic for the whole family, and like I said, it's a tough way to learn a lesson for our young girls and boys," said parent Helen Swift.

And that's all the Dohertys can hope for as they come to grips with the sudden loss of their daughter: Get the word out, and let others know the danger because with huffing, there may not be a warning sign until it's too late.

The district said counselors will be made available at the school for students and staff.


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