On January 12, 2007, Jennifer Strange, a 28 year old mother of two, from Ranchero Cordova, California, participated in a contest for radio station KDND “the End”, titled “Hold your wee for a Wii”, the objective was to be the last one left in a series of water drinking; as time progressed, more water was used, and if you had to go, you were out of the game. Ms. Strange was found dead in her home, by her mother, hours after the contest ended. On January 15, the station suspended the show, “The Morning Rave,” and John Geary, Vice President and General Manager of KDND’s parent company, Entercom/Sacramento, fired the three hosts of the show, as well as seven other employees whom were known to have knowledge of the contest, and helped to set it up.
There are very few media-reported cases of death from water intoxication. Those subject to the most risk are marathon runners, or other athletes that exercise for extended periods of time, though there are a few tragic cases.
The most recent, aside from the Strange death, occurred on February 2, 2006. Matthew Carrington, a twenty-one year old student at California State University, pledging to the fraternity Chi Tau (formerly known as Delta Sigma Phi), drank excessive amounts of water while performing calesthenics in a cold basement. He died from heart failure, as a result of water intoxication.
On August 9, 2005, a Washington, D.C., police officer, James McBride, aged 25, while on a 12 mile exercise training ride, consumed over three gallons of water, and began experiencing what his supervisors first thought to be heat exhaustion. In turn, they gave him more water, which began his vomitting and convulsing, that continued through the hospital ride, until he went into a coma and died. It was day two of the training he’d specifically asked for, to help him with his beat near a rough run down housing project in an equally tough neighborhood. He’d been named Rookie of the Year in 2004, and was considered to be a quality officer, in good standing, who was trying to make a difference in the lives of others.
A Marine Corps marathon in 2005 also resulted in a few water intoxication cases as well. Four runners were treated, and two were admitted to ICU. Though it was difficult to find much on this, as the military is pretty much closed mouthed when it comes to a case like this, where military men die on American soil, over drinking too much water.
On August 13, 2002, Cynthia Lucero, aged 28, a Boston marathon runner, and an active nationwide Marathon competitor, died during a race, her body actually weighing more than it did at the start of the race, due to her water consumption.
New Zealander Craig Barrett collapsed during the last kilometer of a 50 kilometer walk in the 1998 Commonwealth Games; he was a non-fatal victim.
And lastly, two cases, a few months and several miles apart, but very similar circumstances allowed them both to fall prey to death by water intoxication.
On October 24, 1995, fifteen year old Anna Wood, of Sydney, Australia, was at a party, took some ecstasy, and autopsy reports cited swelling of the brain due to water intoxication, and hyponatremia as her cause of death.
On November 16, 1995, eighteen year old Leah Betts, of Essex, England, died after being in a coma for five days. She, too, had taken ecstasy at a pary, and taking heed of her friends’ advice (much the same as Miss Wood), on dehydration, she drank approximately 1.85 gallons of water in less than an hour and half; which caused not only water intoxication, but also hyponatremia (which is a dilution of the blood, due to changing sodium levels), which, in turn, led to cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain.
Most athletes combat dehydration during strenuous activities by drinking not only water, but moreover, sports drinks, so as to preserve the electrolytes that are sweated out of the body.
Early symptoms of water intoxication are quite similar to heat exhaustion, with confusion, nausea, and vomitting, but, again, weight gain is increased, due to the body’s cell structure increasing water hold.
It has been suggested that marathoners get weighed in not only before the start of a race, but also during & afterwards, as well, to help monitor their bodies as time progresses.
While eight glasses of water a day is a good thing, it shouldn’t be drank all at once, but over the day, to help bring back into your body the water that is naturally sweated out.