Throw The Book at The End

My heart goes out to the family of Jennifer Strange, who apparently died of water intoxication during a radio contest on “Morning Rave,” the morning show on “The End.” Ten people were fired today, and I have to assume that includes whoever was “in charge” at the time. Admittedly, water intoxication is probably not something everybody knows about, and I don’t know how many people are actually working during an FM radio morning show, or how the vetting process works for the contests (that process must not contain a humor component, as this whole tragic effed-up mess was aimed at making a pee joke about the Nintendo Wii). But somebody should have said something. Well, somebody like nurse practitioner Judith Linder did say something:

She and two co-workers called the radio station on a speaker phone, and their comments that water intoxication can be dangerous were part of the broadcast.

A DJ retorted, asking them why they didn’t join the contest. Linder said they replied: We don’t want to die.

I say criminal negligence. Throw the book at ’em.

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

33 thoughts on “Throw The Book at The End”

  1. The End should take most of the blame. I feel horrible for this woman’s family, especially her husband and three small children. However, what about personal responsibility? Why not stop when you start feeling really sick?

    We had some discussion on this issue last summer:
    https://sacrag.com/2006/07/be-hot-get-thin/

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  2. I’m sympathetic to the argument, but I don’t want to live in a world without a concept of criminal negligence. Also didn’t she quit when she felt sick? Somebody else won the contest…

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  3. You’re right. Someone else won. Insert the phrase “my bad” here if you’re the type to say that.

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  4. Just posted on sacbee.com:

    Recording of show gives haunting account of water-drinking contest

    By Ryan Lillis and Christina Jewett – Bee Staff Writers

    Published 8:29 pm PST Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Jennifer Lea Strange complained on-air Friday that she had a headache and felt light-headed, but offered to drink even more water if hosts of KDND’s Morning Rave show wanted her to.

    The haunting exchange that preceded her death several hours later is captured in a recording of the show The Bee obtained exclusively on Tuesday.

    The four-hour and 40-minute recording also indicates that the show’s hosts knew of the dangers of water intoxication – even discussing a case two years ago in which a student at California State University, Chico, died after drinking too much water during a fraternity hazing.

    “Maybe we should have researched this,” one of the DJs is heard saying before the contest started.

    In a groggy conversation with a co-host of the Morning Rave, Strange, 28, said her head hurt after dropping out of the contest, but that “they keep telling me though that it’s the water, that it will tell my head to hurt and then it will make me puke.”

    Strange and the contest’s winner were escorted from a kitchen inside the station and into a studio, where one host said Strange’s stomach was so large she looked “three months pregnant.”

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  5. The radio station should be liable. I heard on the news that it will take a civil lawsuit to get any justice.

    Yep…I think it was so stupid on her part to participate, but I also think it is reprehensible that someone at that station thought this contest was a good thing.

    But then, look what people put themselves through on Survivor, the old Fear Factor, and worst of all..American Idol.

    A tragedy..all of it.

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  6. Yeah, read that this morning too… kinda shocking when you see that they acknowledged on air that it was dangerous and still asked people to do it…

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  7. I say throw the book at them. The next time someone dies during and ultramarathon, we should ban all ultra sporting events because the organizers are obviously criminally negligent.

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  8. let’s ban cars and bridges and paper and water and metal and cotton while we’re at it! all of those things can/have killed people. an ultramarathon has medical staff on hand because they acknowledge the danger and do their due diligence to protect the participants. joking on air about the frat guy who died doing the same stunt, and then just letting this girl sit there after she felt sick, is fucking negligent.

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  9. so we’re all infants who have to be cared for 24/7 because we are too stupid/lazy to take care of ourselves? The dj’s weren’t whispering about the dangers of the contest in secret. They were talking about it in front of/with the contestants according to the transcripts. It was an unfortunate accident. Not a crime.

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  10. I simply believe that we have an obligation to pay a basic amount of attention to the safety of others. For example, if we have asked someone to perform an action, and then we are subsequently told the action could cause death, we might want to quickly tell the person to stop doing it.

    Also I simply believe puppies should be photographed in flower baskets or falling asleep next to kittens.

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  11. What about dogs dressed as jazz musicians? Like a dog with a saxophone — a “jazz hound.” Rumor has it that Sac-Eats used to have a sweatshirt depicting such a creature.

    I’m on adamant’s side on this one, and I’m an ultramarathoner who knows when to stop when serious injury or death is a possibility.

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  12. This situation was nothing like an ultramarathon. For one thing, Justin Timberlake tickets were on the line. For another, marathoners are accutely educated about the risks they assume in embarking on such a feat, whereas a radio show contestant drinking water can’t be expected to know she might die. It hardly seems to be the same assumption of personal risk involved. Although to be sure the victim did bear some responsibility, it’s pretty reckless for the contest organizers to push her along with no serious warning and no medical personnel on hand. Wow. I’m articulate for 13.

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  13. I think it is all about personal responsibility. If you sign up to participate in a contest, then you are putting yourself at risk. No one forced you to do it. Don’t even get me started that you signed up just to win a stupid gaming system.

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  14. This is just another case of individuals not needing to have personal responsibility. It’s Darwanism at its best, if people choose not to watch the news and learn from other people’s mistakes (The Chico Univ. incident), then the past is destined to repeat itself…and that is what is becoming wrong with society as a whole. And if this family is to bring a lawsuit in this case, it is just more people sucking time and money out of hard-working tax-payers lives.

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  15. That is just such a callous worldview! Heaven forbid my safety ever lies in your hands, Bob. There are probably hundreds of things that I never knew could kill me. Thousands! And if no genius like Bob was around to save me, you would all dance on my grave and call me lazy and stupid? Argh. Is it Friday yet?

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  16. I totally agree, DMZ. Bob’s world view is also unrealistic. It would take way too much blogging to explain all the reasons that society compensates for negligence but yeah, there are times when a person is so reckless he breaches a duty to another and justice requires compensation. Times like when you set up a radio contest where, without disclosure of the particular risk involved, you make a person drink water until she dies in order to win Justin Timberlake tickets. We could debate about whether failing to compensate this family for the loss of the mother would cost society more than the cost of the justice system doing, well, justice, but it’s not really the point is it? By the way it may not be Friday but it’s 5:00 somewhere.

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  17. Well, I must start out by first saying that this was a free will contest. None of these participants were forced to join, nor were they obligated to continue. I would also like to point out that there are certain things in life that should be self-explanitory. Why is it that there are a million yellow caution stickers on every product that we see? Stoves and irons say caution, HOT: Don’t Touch. And then my favorite is the incident in which an individual set their cruise control in their truck, leaving the cabin to get something from their trailor in the back. This family sued, and won! How much more idiodic can this world become? If you don’t have enough common sense or take the time to research the risks involved in activities you are taking part in, then bad things are highly inevitable to occur. And HeyMeg, I believe that the contest was to win a Nintento Wii System…Not Timerlake tickets. All over a $250 gaming system. Sad.

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  18. Bob: Do you think it is wrong to persuade someone to use their free will to participate in something you know can kill them?

    The thing is we humans are not robots; we do not analyze every action we take and determine whether it will lead to a situation where we will die. Free will does not exempt us from the obligation not to put each other in harm’s way. You can’t give someone a loaded gun and leave it up to free will what happens.

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  19. The contest sponsors weren’t just average passersby. They were members of a corporation sponsoring an event for their own profit and promotion. In doing so they assumed some level of responsibility for participants’ safety that at least included warning participants of the particular risk involved. I agree some risks are obvious and do not require warning. It’s a factual question but I just don’t think water intoxication is one of those obvious dangers. In order to increase the promotional, e.g. financial, value of their contest, the promoters persuaded the victim to continue in behavior so dangerous it ultimately killed her. To be sure she was not phsyically forced to participate, but the promoters seeking their own advantage persuaded her to continue, apparantly without warning of the danger involved. Their duty was to at least disclose that she could die, and it appears they failed to do so. So yes, I think some liability rests on them as well as with the victim. When a corporation puts an activity out there and persuades people to do it for the corporation’s own profit, I think it’s fair for participants to assume the activity is reasonably safe, unless specifically warned of the danger involved or the danger involved is obvious, like bungee jumping. We don’t know what kind of disclosure there was in this case, or what the waiver and release said. We’re assuming it didn’t disclose water intoxication. If it did I’m more inclined to agree with you Bob. Even though your manner of expression is callous to the point of absurd.

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  20. Even a waiver that specifically mentioned the possibility of death should have been accompanied by immediate medical attention for anyone who dropped out, since they would be dropping out due to signs of water intoxication, which it turns out can kill you. An ultramarathon that didn’t provide medical support for its participants would be similarly negligble I think.

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  21. Agreed, DMZ. It’s about taking reasonable care to prevent death or serious injury. To me reasonable care would include both a specific warning and standby medical attention. This case is so tragic.

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  22. Although I’m late to jump into this, I throw my weight behind DMZ & Meg. Look, the real kicker in this is that she left, called in sick, and went home without anyone stopping her or advising her that she should seek medical attention. This clearly indicates that she had no idea that drinking too much water could kill her. Call me ignorant, but I wasn’t really educated about water intoxication until this happened either.

    Had the station done two simple things: (1) declared that the consumption of too much water could result in death and (2) had medical personnel on site and Jennifer had still gone home, I think I’d be arguing for Entercomm on this one. But they didn’t do either. When Jennifer went home to lay down, she obviously hadn’t the faintest notion that she would be going home to die. That makes the people who put her in that situation liable. As they should be.

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  23. The thing is, even with those 2 conditions in place, I’m not sure I’m comfortable letting Entercomm off scott free. If I give you a gun and tell you shooting yourself might hurt you and get you to sign off that I told you that, is my conscience clear when you shoot yourself? No. Society needs a conscience or we end up putting undesirables in the gladiator ring.

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  24. Someone’s conscience being unclear is quite a lot different from being legally liable for damages. I would put money on the fact that the waiver included language that someone could die from participating — and, unfortunately, there are enough people who are willing to put their life on the line for stunts like these. While the radio station is guilty for coming up with a stupid stunt, it was each participant’s personal decision to sign their life away and engage in a dangerous activity. It’s sad and asinine that more than one person has to die in such an unnecessary way. As callous as Bob seems, I think he has a point.

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  25. I am aware that they are different, but I think they are both important.

    “And if they get to the point where they have to throw up, then they’re going to throw up and they’re out of the contest before they die, so that’s good, right?” one host said. One of the hosts then asked a DJ stationed in the kitchen with the contestants, “Is anybody dying in there?”

    “We got a guy who’s just about to die,” he said.

    “Make sure he signs the release,” the host replied.

    Stay classy, Sacramento!

    And I’d hold on to your money: more than one participant has said that the waiver did not mention health and safety.

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  26. So no more water drinking contests. When’s the FIRE EATING contest? That’s gotta be safe, right? As long as there’s a waiver letting people know that fire can be hot…

    At least Roger Dryer isn’t turning into a media whore over this case- there is still time to parade the remaining family in front of Oprah tho. Maybe they can negotiate a BRAND NEW NINTENDO WII outta the appearance.

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  27. The radio station has hired a new Program Director.

    Dan Mason is taking over for Steve Weed who was fired when Jennifer Strange died after drinking large amounts of water during a contest at the radio station.

    What a relief because that Steve guy had to be smoking something to allow a contest like that on his airwaves. Hopefully this new Dan guy will be able to build the foundation of a reputable station one brick at a time…

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  28. No doubt you all heard this on yesterday’s news or read it in the paper this morning, but here it is:

    SACRAMENTO
    No criminal charges in radio stunt
    Water intoxication killed woman after contest

    Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Tuesday, April 3, 2007

    No criminal charges will be filed in connection with the death of a Sacramento County woman who died of water intoxication in a morning radio stunt gone wrong, prosecutors said Monday.

    Jennifer Strange, 28, willingly participated in the contest by Sacramento radio station KDND-FM and showed no visible symptoms to suggest that she was seriously ill or in danger of dying, Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully said in a statement.

    “She knew what the contest involved when she entered it and had the option to stop or discontinue her participation in the contest at any time,” said Scully, outlining how prosecutors contemplated — and ultimately decided against — filing charges of involuntary manslaughter.

    “There were no observable indications or symptoms that Jennifer Strange was experiencing a serious medical emergency which would have required station employees to seek or administer medical aid to her,” Scully said.

    On Jan. 12, Strange was among 18 contestants who participated in “Hold your wee for a Wii,” in which the winner would get a Nintendo Wii video game player. Contestants were asked to drink large quantities of water over a four-hour period and to refrain from urinating.

    After consuming nearly 2 gallons of water, Strange complained of headaches and disorientation. She went home and died that day.

    Strange’s mother, Nina Hulst, who found her daughter’s body, declined to comment Monday.

    Strange’s family, including her three children and widower, William Strange, filed a civil wrongful-death lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court on Jan. 25 against KDND station manager John Geary, the DJs who hosted “The Morning Rave” program and Entercom Communications, the station’s parent company. A number of employees were fired after Strange’s death.

    The decision not to prosecute “makes total sense,” the family’s attorney, Roger Dreyer, said Monday. “We never felt that the acts of the individuals rose to the level of criminal acts or criminal intent. In fact, it simply validates our viewpoint that the responsible parties in this case are Entercom management.”

    Scully said the circumstances of Strange’s death were distinct from those involving the February 2005 death of Cal State Chico student Matthew Carrington, 21, of Pleasant Hill, who collapsed and died of heart failure after members of a fraternity forced him to drink excessive amounts of water while he performed calisthenics during a hazing ritual. The underlying charge in that case was hazing, which didn’t apply in the Strange case, Scully said.

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