Autopsy Finds Signs of Water Intoxication in Radio Contestant's Death
Preliminary autopsy findings concluded a Rancho Cordova woman who competed in a radio station water-drinking contest before she was found dead Friday showed signs consistent with water intoxication, the Sacramento County assistant coroner said Saturday.
The results of a preliminary investigation released Saturday showed evidence "consistent with a water intoxication death" in the death of 28-year-old Jennifer Strange, Sacramento County assistant coroner Ed Smith said.
Smith said the autopsy found no traces of "life-threatening medical conditions" that would have otherwise explained Strange's sudden death.
Strange was found dead inside her Astral Drive home in Rancho Cordova Friday afternoon. Her death came just hours after she participated in a radio station KDND 107.9 The End contest, challenging contestants to drink as much water as they could without going to the bathroom.
The winner of the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest would take home a new Nintendo Wii video game system.
Strange's co-worker at Radiological Associates of Sacramento, Laura Rios, said Strange participated in the contest Friday morning then was heading home when she reportedly called her supervisor in terrible pain.
"She said to one of our supervisors that she was on her way home, and her head was hurting her real bad," Rios said. "She was crying and that was the last that anyone had heard from her."
The supervisor called Strange's mother, who went to her daughter's home and discovered the body.
Sacramento County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Tim Curran confirmed Strange's death Friday but said there were no immediate grounds to begin an investigation.
According to contest participants, 17 to 20 contestants took part in the competition in a room at KDND's Madison Avenue studios. The contest broadcast during The End's Morning Rave program began around 6:15 a.m. as contestants were each handed eight-ounce bottles of water to drink every 15 minutes.
Fellow contestant James Ybarra of Woodland said he met Strange at the event and had no idea of the potential danger of water poisoning. "They were small little half-pint bottles so we thought it was going to be easy," Ybarra said. "They told us if you don't feel like you can do this, don't put your health in risk."
But after 90 minutes of drinking, Ybarra decided he had enough. "I tapped (out) after five (bottles)," Ybarra said. "My bladder couldn't handle it anymore."
Ybarra said after he quit, the remaining contestants were given even larger bottles to drink to stay in the competition. Strange was still in the contest when he opted out.
"I was talking to her, and she was a nice lady," Ybarra said. "She was telling me about her family and her three kids and how she was doing it for kids."
Ybarra said before the contest, he did not read the liability waiver form handed to him by station personnel before signing it. Ybarra said he was surprised by the physical toll he felt after the contest.
"I was kind of out of it yesterday. I was just drained. I was just going to the bathroom," Ybarra said. "I wasn't feeling well, and I actually fell asleep. I woke up with a headache (Saturday) morning and then took a couple of aspirins."
Ybarra said he was unaware of any medical personnel on hand to monitor the contest.
In a brief written statement issued Saturday, Entercom Sacramento Vice President and market manager, John Geary, expressed sympathy for Strange's family.
"We were stunned when we heard the news," Geary said. "We are awaiting information that will help explain how this tragic event occurred."
"They should have had a physician there, some type of statement or as to this can kill you. You can die from this," Strange's friend and co-worker Tracy Beam said. "People have died from this before and here we are. We don't have our Jennifer."
"I believe everyone should just be fired and let go from that radio station," Beam said. "It should be the end of 'The End.'"
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1/12/2007 10:18:31 PM
1/18/2007 3:20:00 PM