5 Unusual Aquatic Deaths

Water Intoxication

Many water deaths involve large quantities surrounding or overtaking the person killed, but relatively small quantities of water can be fatal, too -- if you drink them. In 2007, Jennifer Strange, a young wife and mother of three took part in a radio station contest in California to win a new Nintendo gaming system for her family. The "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" competition had contestants drink as much water as possible without urinating, and the last person holding water would win. Sadly, as a handful of sports enthusiasts and marathon runners have found out over the years, drinking too much water is actually fatal. Water intoxication -- or overhydration -- leads to cerebral edema, a swelling in the brain that can be fatal.

During the water drinking contest, radio show listeners even called in to warn the show's hosts and producers about the risks of water intoxication, but the show and the competition went on. Strange won second place and went home only to die hours later. Her family later won a wrongful death lawsuit of $16.5 million [sources: Associated Press; Clarke and McHugh].

Related Articles


  • Associated Press. "Death Toll in Philippine Floods Falls to 1,249." Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com. Dec. 28, 2011. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203479104577123650214989134.html
  • Associated Press. "Thai Flood Death Toll Reaches 780." ABCNews.go.com. Dec. 30, 2011. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/thai-flood-death-toll-hits-780-15257563
  • Associated Press. "Woman Dies After Water-Drinking Contest." MSNBC.MSN.com. Jan. 13, 2007. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16614865/ns/us_news-life/t/woman-dies-after-water-drinking-contest/
  • Capaccio, Tony. "Pirates Kill Four Hostages on U.S. Yacht, U.S. Military Says." Bloomberg.com. Feb. 22, 2011. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-22/four-americans-killed-by-somali-pirates-after-capture-of-yacht-u-s-says.html
  • Cappella, Chris. "More Than Half of Flood Victims Are in Vehicles." USAToday.com. 2011. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.usatoday.com/weather/tg/wfldangr/wfldangr.htm
  • Castillo, Mariano. "Severe Fatigue Behind Swimmer's Death, Officials Say." CNN.com. Oct. 24, 2010. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://edition.cnn.com/2010/SPORT/10/24/swimmer.death/index.html
  • Clarke, Suzan and McHugh, Rich. "Jury Rules Against Radio Station After Water-Drinking Contest Kills Calif. Mom." ABCNews.go.com. Nov. 2, 2009. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/jury-rules-radio-station-jennifer-strange-water-drinking/story?id=8970712
  • CNN. "SeaWorld Trainer Killed by Killer Whale." CNN.com. Feb. 24, 2010. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://articles.cnn.com/2010-02-24/us/killer.whale.trainer.death_1_killer-whale-trainer-seaworld-employees?_s=PM:US
  • Daily Mail Online. "Man, 35, Drank Himself to Death After Consuming Too Much Water." DailyMail.co.uk. Jan. 31, 2008. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-511475/Man-35-drank-death-consuming-water.html
  • Fickling, David. "The Cruel Sea." Guardian.co.uk. July 22, 2004. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2004/jul/23/2
  • Gardner, JW. "Death by Water Intoxication." NIH.gov. May 2002. (Dec. 28, 2011) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12053855
  • Klein, Jeff Z. "Second Triathlon Swimmer Dies, Prompting Review of Race Protocol." NYTimes.com. Aug. 8, 2011. (Dec. 30, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/sports/second-new-york-city-triathlon-competitor-dies.html?pagewanted=all
  • Kleinfield, N.R. "Brave, Foolhardy and Just Unlucky: The Lives Lost in a Storms' Watery Fury." NYTimes. Aug. 30, 2011. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/nyregion/brave-foolhardy-and-just-unlucky-the-lives-lost-in-hurricane-irene.html?pagewanted=all
  • Kropko, M.R. "Chris Mason, Transgender Wife, Gets Four Years for Husband's Death." HuffingtonPost.com. March 21, 2009. (Jan. 2, 2012) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/20/chris-mason-transgender-w_n_177608.html
  • Maher, Kris. "Pittsburgh Considers Warning System, Closures After Flash-Flood Deaths." Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com. Aug. 21, 2011. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904279004576522503503837560.html
  • NBC, et al. "Four American Hostages Killed by Somali Pirates." MSNBC.MSN.com. Feb. 22, 2011. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41715530/ns/world_news-africa/t/four-american-hostages-killed-somali-pirates/
  • USA Today. "Irwin's Last Minutes of Struggle Caught on Tape." USAToday.com. Sept. 5, 2006. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-09-04-obit-irwin_x.htm


The Sarco Suicide Pod: Controversial or Compassionate?

The Sarco Suicide Pod: Controversial or Compassionate?

Imagine the suicide booth on 'Futurama,' only real. Learn more about the Sarco suicide pod at HowStuffWorks.