RIVERSIDE – A 17-year-old Riverside boy apparently died from suffocation while inhaling helium, though toxicology tests are pending, authorities said today.
Micah David, who bought a tank of the lighter-than-air gas at a Wal-Mart, was found dead Dec. 14 with a plastic bag over his head and the tank connected to the bag.
The death was the second of its kind in the county. A woman died of inhaling helium about eight months ago, Riverside police Sgt. Mark Rossi said.
When inhaled, helium raises the register of one's voice, making it high and cartoon-like, but Rossi said youths apparently believe it also produces a mind-altering effect.
“I would imagine it must provide some type of high,'' Rossi said. If enough of the gas is inhaled, it can replace oxygen in the blood stream and cause asphyxiation.