Water intoxication historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Historical Perspective

Notable Cases

  • On January 12, 2007, Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old woman and a mother of 3, from Rancho Cordova, California, was found dead in her home by her mother hours after trying to win one of Nintendo's Wii game consoles in KDND 107.9 "The End" radio station's "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest, which involved drinking large quantities of water without urinating. However, no criminal charges were pressed.[1] The Federal Communications Commission has launched its own investigation to determine if the station violated the terms of its operating license.
  • Leah Betts[2] died on the 16th of November 1995 after taking an ecstasy tablet at her 18th birthday party and subsequently drinking too much water; the case received mass media coverage throughout the United Kingdom.
  • In a much-publicized case of fraternity hazing, four members of the Chi Tau (formerly Delta Sigma Phi) House at California State University, Chico pleaded guilty to forcing 21-year-old student Matthew Carrington to drink excessive amounts of water while performing calisthenics in a frigid basement as part of initiation rites on February 2, 2005.[3] He collapsed and died of heart failure due to water intoxication.
  • On September 12, 1999, US Air Force basic trainee Michael J. Schindler died of heat stroke, severely complicated by water intoxication, two days after becoming seriously ill during a 5.8 mile march. The Air Force changed its recruit training procedures as a result.[4]
  • New Zealand race-walker Craig Barrett collapsed during the last kilometer of the 50 km walk in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in a non-fatal case of water intoxication.
  • Other notable fatalities due to water intoxication include Andy Warhol, Anna Wood, [5] 2002 Boston Marathon competitor Cynthia Lucero,[6] and Washington, D.C. police officer James McBride.[7]


  1. "Woman dies after water-drinking contest". MSNBC. January 13 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-10. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. "Hyponatremia ("Water Intoxication")". The DEA.org. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
  3. Lore, Mark (2005-02-10). "Another death in the family". Chico news & review. Retrieved 2007-05-10. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. Grier, Peter (January, 2000). "Airman's Death Brings Training Changes". Aerospace World. Air Force Magazine Online. Retrieved 2007-01-20. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. "Reasons for dispensing with the holding of an inquest". Retrieved 2007-05-10.
  6. "Doctors: Marathoner Died From Too Much Water". August 13 2002. Retrieved 2007-05-10. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. "District Officer Dies After Bike Ride: Over-Hydration Cited as Factor". Washington Post. August 11 2005. Retrieved 2007-05-10. Check date values in: |date= (help)