Radio’s Deadly Stunts – The Jennifer Strange Story

In 2007, Sacramento radio station KDND sponsored a water drinking contest that killed 29-year-old mother of three, Jennifer Strange. A jury eventually found the station liable for her death, but the FCC has still taken no action against the station. The station was hosting a “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest, asking people to drink as much water as they could without going to the bathroom to win the prize. After drinking more than 1½ gallons of water over a 3-hour period, Jennifer thought she’d be first in line to win the new Wii video game. Instead, she suffered hyponatremia — acute water intoxication. At the trial, a doctor testified that immediate medical care might have saved her, as doctors could have administered an IV sodium drip to counteract the water. Jennifer told the radio personalities that her head hurt, but instead of calling for medical assistance the DJ’s laughed about her condition, even saying her distended abdomen made her look pregnant. In the end, Jennifer came in second, winning tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert. She went home, collapsed, and was found dead about six hours later. Testifying for the plaintiffs in the wrongful-death trial, kidney expert Dr. George Alan Kaysen told jurors that drinking too much water disrupts the body’s salt balance, causing cells, and ultimately the brain, to swell. Seizures and respiratory distress result. The wrongful-death trial sought damages from Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications Corporation and its subsidiary that owns the Sacramento station, as well as the station’s vice president. The jury awarded a $16.5 million compensation award.