Mom blames son's death on air freshener - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Mom blames son's death on air freshener

Alex Johnson (Source: Family) Alex Johnson (Source: Family)

By Caroline Moses - bio | email

SATSUMA, LA (WAFB) - A product made to sweeten the air in your home is blamed for stopping a child's heart. A recently released autopsy report names the air freshener Glade in the death of an eight-year-old Livingston Parish boy. Now, the boy's mother is on a mission to warn others.

"Parents need to know this stuff is dangerous," said Jeannie Johnson.

Last July, Johnson says she put a can of Glade on a bookcase in her home located in Satsuma, Louisiana. The can later fell on the floor and before she could pick it up, her severely autistic son, Alex, grabbed it.

"It was an 8-year-old's body with the mind of a 2-year-old," Johnson said, referring to her son.

At 8 years old, Alex still wore diapers, could not feed himself and could not speak. Johnson says she pleaded with him to give her the can.

"He just did like this (in a television interview, Johnson moves both her hands into her chest and squeezes) like he normally does when he's in trouble and it sprayed. I grabbed it from him, threw the can on the ground and brought it into the kitchen," she recalled.

She says the spray went straight into her son's nose. Seconds later, he collapsed. He was airlifted to a hospital, but it was too late. His death certificate lists the cause as "inhalation of air freshener."

"This was unintentional. He didn't know what he was doing and buying that can cost my son his life," she tearfully said.

Alex was her only son. His autopsy report also lists "cardiac arrhythmia secondary to inhalation of air freshener (Glade)" as the cause of death.

The manufacturer of glade, SC Johnson, has a warning on its label. "Keep out of the reach of children and pets." It also warns "intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal."

In response to this case, SC Johnson issued a statement. "Our understanding of the incident from talking to the mother and authorities, does not lead us to believe that our product would have caused this tragedy," it read.

Sheriff's deputies tell a different story. When interviewed on Dec. 3, 2009, Livingston Parish spokesman Perry Rushing says investigators still believe inhaling air freshener caused Alex's death and that the incident was an accident.

"We had locks on every single one of our cabinets, even locks on the ice box, freezer, deep freezer, washers and dryers, locks on every door in the house because he would get into everything if he could," Johnson explained.

The mother's mission now is to warn other parents and, she says, convince SC Johnson to manufacture a safer product in a safer can.

"I lost my son. I'll never get him back."

The boy's mother has hired an attorney and they're in the process of filing a lawsuit against the makers of Glade.

Read the complete response statement from SC Johnson


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