Mother mourns, now warns about asthma's dangers

Marques Phillips

Lenora Murtaugh of North Syracuse is all too familiar with asthma's lethal potential.

She lost her son Jason to asthma when he was just 17 years old in 2004.

“I want people to know how painful it could be,” she said. “This disease can tear a family apart. My family is so torn apart still, after three years.”

Murtaugh has made it her mission to share her story with as many people as possible with the hope of preventing another family from having to go through it.

“Asthmatics don't even think about their asthma until it goes bad,” she said.

On the day Jason died, her mother came home to find her son being loaded into the ambulance. Exposure to grass clippings in the yard triggered his fatal asthmatic attack.

She still keeps his urn in her house and says neighborhood kids sometimes come by to pay tribute.

Her way of keeping his legacy alive is to inspire others by sharing his story.

“They read about it, but when they meet me and find out I lost a son, the looks on people's faces are of astonishment,” she said. “It makes it more real for them.”

Murtaugh also has a 22-year-old son with asthma and says he remains very active in sports.

She's determined to let him be in charge of his life, but warns people who participate in any activities that might trigger their asthma that they should consult a doctor.

“We never really thought he could die,” she said of Jason. “We brought him to the emergency room the day before and we thought it would be all right.”