Jan 14, 2007

A Senseless Death

Photo of Jennifer Strange courtesy of Sacramento Bee

(Sacramento) 28-year-old Jennifer Strange Friday died of water intoxication after taking part in a California radio station's water drinking contest. The Rancho Cordova resident was in a contest called "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" trying to win a Nintendo Wii video game system for her three children.

Assistant Sacramento County Coroner Ed Smith said a preliminary autopsy found evidence consistent with water intoxication in her death. This condition is an occasionally fatal disturbance in brain function that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is disrupted by a rapid intake of water, and deaths most often occur among athletes.

KDND 107.9 has pulled information about the the promotion from its website, but a Google cache search uncovers the details of the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii contest:
We managed to get our hands on another one of this years hottest gifts...

A Nintendo Wii! We're gonna give it away Friday morning. All you have to do is call the Rave and tell us your lame, worst, most boring Christmas gift you got this year! It just may get you into our contest! Can you hold "it" in for a long time? We're having you drink water every 15 minutes! And the last person to go to the bathroom wins the Wii!
It is easy to sit back and laugh at the misfortune of others, or to condemn the dead woman for taking part in an idiotic contest that ultimately cost her life.

Wii console And one might be tempted to blame radio station KDND for promoting a stunt that forced contestants to put their health in jeopardy over an electronic game system.

What kind of world, though, do we live in where people and corporations get swept up in a collective mania over a video game system? I think that this episode is instead a larger commentary on American society: in this age of hyper-consumerism, what seems to matter most is possessing the latest toys.

And for Jennifer Strange and her family, this obsession was deadly.


Anonymous said...

How very sad for this woman and her kids.

Mark said...

Must admit, I didn't even know that this was possible until I read the news about it.

It is easy to say that both the woman and the radio station are to blame for this because both should have known better. I lean towards blaming the radio station more, simply because...come on, there's got to be other ways of doing contests.

But maybe that's a problem with public radio today, which "claims" that it's losing listeners to satellite radio (personally, I'd like to see those numbers). With the competition getting more and more stiff, these contests are going to get more ridiculous and dangerous.

Mr. Schwartz said...

My wife actually had an ambulance call of someone who overdosed by drinking too much water in a college hazing ritual.

I'm sure the radio station is going to get sued into the ground on this one.

Things people will do for a video game though....