Wii-contest radio station fires 10 staff
KDND 107.9's <i>Morning Rave</i> off air indefinitely after the death of a woman in a water-drinking competition.
A California radio station has fired 10 employees, including five on-air personalities, after Jennifer Strange, a mother of three, died following her participation in a "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" competition, reports the Sacramento Bee. The 28-year-old died of water intoxication, having consumed an estimated two gallons of water in an attempt to win a Nintendo console for her children. The winner of the contest was to be the person who managed to drink the most water without going to the bathroom.
Strange called into her office after the show and told a coworker that she had a "really bad" headache and would be going straight home. She was found dead in her Rancho Cordova home on Friday afternoon by her mother, who had gone to check on her after being contacted by the concerned coworker.
The DJs had made comments joking about people dying from water intoxication during the show, according to the Sacramento Bee. There was even a discussion about a "poor kid in college"--presumably Matthew Carrington, who also died from water intoxication after a fraternity hazing ritual. One person dismissed the link by saying, "Yeah, well, he was doing other things." During the show, one DJ also admitted, "Maybe we should have researched this."
Two hours into the contest, a female caller, who identified herself as Eva, phoned in to warn the radio station that drinking too much water can kill. She said, "Those people that are drinking all that water can get sick and possibly die from water intoxication." One DJ replied, "We are aware of that," while another added, "They signed releases, so we're not responsible. It's OK."
Twenty contestants took part in the competition, including Strange, who was the runner-up. Other participants said that they became concerned when one woman lay on the ground, with her teeth chattering, and looking pale. At one point Strange was lying on the ground but told staff that she "could probably drink more" if someone could pick her up.
Despite the sackings, the Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said that there would not be a criminal investigation. He said, "It's not as if she was somehow in their custody and they had a role to care for her. Rather, it was an invitation to a contest that was clearly ill-advised. She was exercising her free will."
A notice on the radio station's Web site stated that an investigation was underway. It reads, "First and foremost, our thoughts and sympathies go out to Jennifer's family and loved ones. I also want to assure you that the circumstances regarding this matter are being examined as thoroughly as possible. We are doing everything we can to deal with this difficult situation in a manner that is both respectful and responsible."