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Woman Killed In Wii-Related Competition 784

snuffin writes to tell us that a local radio competition to "hold your wee for a Wii" has ended with a Sacramento woman dead from water poisoning. From the article: "An Associated Press interview with another contestant, named James Ybarra, claimed that contestants were initially given eight ounce bottles of water to drink every fifteen minutes, with larger bottles being used once contestants began to drop out. According to Ybarra, 'They told us if you don't feel like you can do this, don't put your health at risk.' He described the victim as 'a nice lady' and that 'she was telling me about her family and her three kids and how she was doing it for her kids.'"
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Woman Killed In Wii-Related Competition

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  • sheesh (Score:5, Informative)

    by yagu ( 721525 ) * < minus cat> on Monday January 15, 2007 @03:47PM (#17617534) Journal

    This is not some mysterious malady. The radio station is off the scale negligent for putting contestants in the position of potential serious harm:

    I'd had this argument many times with a friend about my water intake. I've always known my intake was fine (hint: coffee counts...), but in the course of that discussion I found many articles on the problems one could encounter by drinking too much water.

    I won't claim any person on the street should know the dangers of drinking too much water, but the people putting on this contest (sorry, stunt) could have recognized they were in deep waters with a modicum of research.

    I'm not much for lawsuits, but I hope the radio station that put on this stunt makes significant remedy to the lady's family.

  • by x2A ( 858210 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:03PM (#17617820)
    Here in UK there've been a few "ecstacy deaths", last a few years ago, that turned out not to be the ecstacy as such, but drinking too much water to avoid dehydration and overcompensating. You need to replace your body salts when drinking, or they get flushed out, and organs will fail.

    Other risks come from the chlorine put in tap water to stop bacteria from growing - well the bacteria in your guts you kind of need, for digestion etc. Boiling the water first evaporates off the chlorine, otherwise, you're disinfecting yourself everytime you drink it, an accumulative effect.

  • by StressGuy ( 472374 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:03PM (#17617832)
    "Hold your wee for a Wii"

  • by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:19PM (#17618060) Homepage
    This is why they reccommend when you have a fever you drink Gatorade or some other sport drink...because these help keep your electrolytes high, the chances of your dying from (or being affected by) over-hydration are reduced drastically
  • Re:Killed?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by celardore ( 844933 ) * on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:23PM (#17618134)

    It's a bit harsh to call it stupidity; water poisoning isn't that well known.
    It is a condition that is known by users of the ecstasy community though, especially after Leah Betts [], a case that happened in the UK some years back. I've known several people in this lifestyle and they were always conscious of the amount of water they were drinking - even when high as a kite. Not too much, but not too little either.

    The knowledge is out there, just whether you've heard it or not.
  • Obligatory link (Score:5, Informative)

    by pctainto ( 325762 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:32PM (#17618296) Homepage
    Wikipedia article []

    Basically, the combination of you drinking too much water and not getting rid of it throws your electrolytes out of whack... you have too much water, so the concentration of electrolytes isn't high enough for your body to carry signals. It happens a lot with marathon runners. Especially runners that don't stop to pee. Many people have died from this even though they were getting enough because they refused to pee out the excess water.

  • Re:Dangerous! (Score:2, Informative)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:35PM (#17618340) Journal

    Pure water isn't very conductive. That's a clear hint it's not ionized normally.
  • Re:sheesh (Score:5, Informative)

    by phasm42 ( 588479 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:40PM (#17618420)
    This article [] has more details; they say that a nurse had called during the contest to warn them about it:

    During the contest, a nurse called in to the station warn of the dangers of drinking too much water quickly. Her worries were dismissed by the disc jockey, The Bee reported.
    They also mention that the winner felt pretty sick afterwards as well.
  • Re:sheesh (Score:3, Informative)

    by alw53 ( 702722 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:58PM (#17618746)
    Hyponatremia is actually more common than is dehydration among people rescued from Grand Canyon hikes. If you google Carol Tufts you'll see an account of one woman who drank 10 glasses of water per day and almost died. The conventional wisdom of 8 glasses per day is dangerous nonsense.
  • Re:sheesh (Score:2, Informative)

    by gotem ( 678274 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:01PM (#17618788) Homepage Journal
    believe it or not, there was a tv show in Mexico that regularly made alcohol drinking contest (it was like a local version of jackass), well, until someone died as you may well imagine
  • Re:sheesh (Score:5, Informative)

    by vought ( 160908 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:21PM (#17619022)
    ...besides it being completely voluntary and them telling her that she should quit if she feels at risk healthwise.

    By the time she felt sick, she was liely past the threshold of easy assistance.

    Administering an emetic would not have helped when she felt the onset of a headache - there was already significant edema in her brain and cardiac muscles.

    The radio station is in big trouble here. They should have known better, especially when a kid from the commuter college up the road died from water toxicity almost exactly two years ago. []
  • Re:Killed?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:34PM (#17619218)
    But did she know that? Did the station inform her? Did the station know? When she started to feel sick, is it reasonable to expect her to go to the emergency room just for drinking water? And even if she had, was it already too late at that point?

    According to this [] related article, a nurse called in to the radio station and told them that drinking water like that could be dangerous, and was rebuffed by the DJs. Regardless of whether that was true, it's pretty clear that someone is going to get the shit sued out of them.
  • by leathered ( 780018 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:46PM (#17619332)
    Other risks come from the chlorine put in tap water to stop bacteria from growing - well the bacteria in your guts you kind of need, for digestion etc. Boiling the water first evaporates off the chlorine, otherwise, you're disinfecting yourself everytime you drink it, an accumulative effect.,

    Speaking as a former water scientist, this is complete BS. The residual levels of chlorine in drinking water in the UK are minimal, usually no more than 1 mg/l, and are maintained as a precaution to prevent contamination in the ditribution system. There is no way that this amount is capable of destroying bacteria in the gut, and chlorine being the highly reactive element that it is will combine with the first thing it finds when it hits your stomach and render it useless as a disinfectant.
  • Re:Killed?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eccles ( 932 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @05:48PM (#17619372) Journal
    Jim Fixx died at age 52. In comparison, his father had a heart attack at 35 and died of another heart attack at age 42. It may be that Fixx's running added a decade to his life, as he still died of a heart attack triggered by extreme cholesterol blockages of his arteries.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:00PM (#17619572) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, may be wrong here, but I thought passive (voice) verbs occurred when the subject of the sentence was not the one committing the action. To say that, "She died." is to say that she was the one undertaking the dying action, which is an action

    "She died" is middle voice [], as are many other intransitive verbs in English. The active and passive voices of this clause are "She killed" and "She was killed". The forms "killed" vs. "died" show suppletion [] per voice in the same way that "go" vs. "went" show suppletion per tense.

  • Re:Killed?? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:01PM (#17619588)
    The actual problem isn't with drinking a lot of water, it's about a lack of electrolytes. During heavy physical activity, when you are constantly sweating out the water you take in, it's very easy to drink a lot of water over the course of a day, and if you don't replenish the electrolytes that you also sweat out, you end up like this lady. I knew a marine who drank too much water during a day of training and suffered water poisoning, he nearly died, and is currently dealing with at least semi-permanent brain damage.
  • by Tanuki64 ( 989726 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:10PM (#17619742)
    Apparently not, the "you can quit at any time if you feel bad" wasn't much of a disclaimer. From all the reports I've read, they didn't even consult with doctors.

    In hindsight this is easy to say. If you did not hear of a concrete case of water poisoning it is hard to estimate the dangers. I heard of problems and even death through too much water during marathons, but I would never have guessed that you can drink yourself voluntarily to death in normal circumstances. I would have suspected that sooner or later a contestant cannot help but getting rid of the excess water, one way or the other.

    Read most of the responses to this article here. Most of us would have underestimated the dangers, so why not the radio station people?
  • by RedSynapse ( 90206 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:11PM (#17619784)
    The KDND website has a list of all the companies that advertise with them [].

    I've put together the following email addresses of KDND's sponsors, so if you think that the folks at KDND are a bunch of negligent twits who probably don't deserve their advertising dollars then why not email these companies and let them know?,,,, marc.goff@US.REDBULL.COM,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, You can also contact KDND's general sales manager at

  • Re:Killed?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by meadandale ( 605319 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:17PM (#17619872)
    It's a bit harsh to call it stupidity; water poisoning isn't that well known.

    Maybe not known to you...

    It's common knowledge amongst toxicologists that "The dose makes the poison". Everything is toxic at some level, even water. e.html []
  • Re:Killed?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:50PM (#17620456)
    It's better that they drink coke instead of water; at least Coke has sodium in it, to make up for electrolyte losses.

    It's not stupid that people don't know about this, because sadly we aren't taught about it at all, despite it being a constant problem in sports and also the reason for the invention of Gatorade and other sports drinks. Yet again, our pathetic public education system has let us down on something quite basic about our bodies.

    And you're right; all the stupid talk about how we supposedly need 8 glasses of water a day makes it worse. I've had people tell me I should be drinking that much water, regardless of how much food or drink I take in. That figure doesn't take into account all the water in your food, for one thing, and drinking that much pure water without electrolytes is a recipe for disaster, or at least a headache.
  • Re:Killed?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mconeone ( 765767 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @06:53PM (#17620504)
    To Quote the Darwin Awards Rules:

    We are not talking about common stupidities such as falling asleep with a lit cigarette, or taking a bath with a radio. The fatal act must be of such idiotic magnitude that we shake our heads and thank our lucky stars that our descendants won't have to deal with, or heaven forbid, breed with descendants of the fool that set that hare-brained scheme in motion.
    The initial reaction is that it does not qualify for a Darwin Award. While it is commonly a "fun fact", the average Joe does not know that one can fatally overdose on water. However, because a nurse called an specifically warned the contestants about the dangers of consuming large amounts of water, it may qualify. On the other hand, its not something incredibly moronic, like if she had put a hose down her throat to win the contest faster and died as a result.
  • by shawb ( 16347 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @07:00PM (#17620582)
    Water intoxication and other hyponatrimic conditions aren't directly caused by failure to conduct electricity. The direct cause is related to osmotic pressure: With a rapid intake of water, the fluid in the bloodstream and other interstitial (the places between cells) fluids experience a rapid decrease in salt concentration. This means that there is a large gradient between concentrations of solvents at the border of the cellular membrane. The two solutions will "try" to equalize in terms of amounts of solvents (the word try is in quotes because it is an anthropomorphism, what actually happens is the solvent and solutes will dissipate in such as way as to achieve the lowest energy state, according to the laws of thermodynamics.) Salts, sugars and many other of the dissolved chemicals can not pass through the cell membrane quickly, but water can pass freely. Water therefore flows freely into the cell in "an attempt" at equalizing the concentrations of solvent and solute. The large gradient means water flows very quickly into the cell, leading to a buildup of pressure. This pressure will distort the shape of the cell, hampering it's function or even cause the cell to rupture. This happens in just about all cells in the body, and the system that can least handle the deformation and subsequent loss of function is the nervous system. When the nervous system shuts down far enough, it can no longer control heart rate or breathing, and the person (or animal) can subsequently die from this shutdown if nothing is done to reverse the osmotic imbalance such as giving diuretics, intravenous administration of appropriate amounts of hypertonic (I.E. more salt and other solvents than the blood normally carries) solutions.

    In fact, it really doesn't matter WHICH solute or solutes are low in concentration. It's a matter of the concentration of water in the blood is simply too high, causing osmotic pressure. But the imbalance is easiest measured by measuring the concentration of sodium in the blood, so the imbalance is called hyponatrimia, or low sodium levels.
  • by Wavicle ( 181176 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @07:23PM (#17620962)
    Which you are not supposed to do because it lacks necessary electrolytes, manly sodium, calcium and magnesium.

    You should tell this to children's hospitals []. Apparently you know something that they don't. Come on, it should be obvious that BABY formula would be fortified at least with sodium, calcium and magnesium.
  • by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @08:02PM (#17621482) Journal

    Anything can kill you if you over-do it, and water is no exception. The poor victim probably didn't know about electrolytes and why athletes drink isotonic drinks. I want to believe that the radio station competition's organisers were also unaware of water intoxication. However, this doesn't change the sad fact that ignorance about scientific facts led to the death of a mother.

    That's why America (and the world as well) must invest in higher-quality science education.

  • Re:Mmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by welshsocialist ( 542986 ) <> on Monday January 15, 2007 @08:21PM (#17621702) Homepage
    From what I read, no. The winner was Lucy Davidson. She felt the same symptoms the victim felt. See here [].
  • Re:Killed?? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cedric Tsui ( 890887 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @09:16PM (#17622360)
    That number came from the fact people pee 1-2L of urine in a day. So some bright dude said, well if you urinate 5-8 cups of water per day, then it must be essential to drink that much. Then some one else read something this dude wrote and misquoted CUPS for GLASSES. And then some other group thought... Well, more is better right? So we'll quote 8 glasses of water.

    You're right about the coke. Though a sport drink like gatoraid would be better. Mind you, not every glass, or you'll be getting too much sodium. Your body only needs that amount of electrolytes if you're sweating up a storm. (cause your sweat is salty)

    I am surprised the group running the competition didn't have rehydration salts. I think they should be investigated for criminal negligence. They probably shouldn't be charged though.
  • Re:Gatorade? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:05AM (#17624632)
    Why is this modded funny?

    There are two ways that Gatorade (or Powerade or most any sports drink) would be vastly superior to water. First, the sugar content in a sports drink raises the blood sugar, causing a feeling of satiation. It would be far more difficult to consume two liters of a sports drink than two liters of water (the amount that the lady drank). It's somewhat self-regulating. Second, the isotonic solution wouldn't disrupt the balance in electrolytes, which is the cause of death for this lady.

    The use of Gatorade would be safer, by far.
  • by nacturation ( 646836 ) <nacturation @ g m> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:12AM (#17624686) Journal

    Not to mention that you can't "boil off" chlorine; boiling is only to kill harmful bacteria in the water. Nothing actually leaves the water when you boil it, except for some steam.
    Anything that has a lower boiling point than water will exit the pot as part of the steam.
  • Re:Mmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by s31523 ( 926314 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:56AM (#17627734)
    Probably! The radio station really biffed this one, they should have used cups of coffee. Caffeine blocks the hormone Anti Diuretic Hormone, which causes your Kidneys to go into overdrive. A lot less water would have been imbibed and after 3 or 4 cups of coffee someone would have to go bad. Speaking of... gotta go.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.