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Radio station water drinking wheeze goes awry

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A mother of three died from water intoxication after a radio station drinking competition, a California coroner said on Saturday. Jennifer Strange, 28, competed in Sacramento station KDND 107.9's "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest to try to win Nintendo's console for her children.

Contestants were handed half-pint bottles of water to drink every 15 minutes for the first hour, and then larger bottles to up the ante.

Laura Rios, Strange's colleague at Radiological Associates of Sacramento, said: "She said to one of our supervisors that she was on her way home and her head was hurting her real bad. She was crying and that was the last that anyone had heard from her." Her body was discovered at her home on Friday, Associated Press reports.

Assistant coroner Ed Smith said preliminary evidence revealed evidence "consistent with a water intoxication death".

The winner was the last contestant to go to the toilet. Fellow contestant James Ybarra said: "They were small little half-pint bottles, so we thought it was going to be easy. They told us if you don't feel like you can do this, don't put your health at risk."

John Geary, vice president and marketing manager for Entercom Sacramento, the station's owner, said station staff were "stunned" at the tragedy. He said: "We are awaiting information that will help explain how this tragic event occurred."

Healthy kidneys are able to excrete about 1 to 1.5 litres of water per hour. Problems occur at greater volumes when the narrow range of salt concentrations they must maintain are upset. Commonly, water intoxication causes death by lowering the concentration of sodium in the blood to a dangerous level, causing cells to rupture as water swells them by osmosis. ®

Bootnote

In 2003, Birmingham radio station BRMB was fined £15,000 for running a competition to sit on blocks of dry ice. Contestants required skin grafts and weeks of hospital treatment for frostbite. More here.

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