Radio’s Deadly Stunts – The Jennifer Strange Story

In 2007, Sacramento radio station KDND sponsored a water drinking contest that killed 29 year 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 reckless Entercom station.   

In this Insider Exclusive Investigative Network TV Special, we cover how Jennifer Strange’s family got justice in a true “David v Goliath” legal battle.

After drinking more than 1.5 gallons of water, Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old mother from Sacramento, thought she’d be first in line to win a new Wii video game from KDND of Sacramento. Known as, “The End” 107.9, the station was hosting a “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest, asking people to drink as much water as they could to win the prize.

By the time she left the station she might as well have been drunk, a doctor testified in her trial earlier this week. Strange suffered hyponatremia, or acute water intoxication. Immediate medical care might have saved with an IV sodium drip to counteract the water, the doctor testified. Instead, Strange went home and collapsed. She was found dead about six hours later.

Testifying for the plaintiffs in the wrongful-death trial in Sacramento Superior Court, Dr. George Alan Kaysen, a kidney expert 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.  Both sides are in agreement that Strange died of hyponatremia.

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. During the trial, jurors heard what happened during the contest.

Strange had been drinking water for nearly three hours without urinating during the January 12, 2007 contest. She told the radio personalities that her head hurt. The DJ’s laughed about her condition even saying her distended abdomen made her look pregnant. Attorneys for the radio station owner, Entercom, have argued her death was not foreseeable.  Strange didn’t even win the contest, she came in second and won two tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert. 

The jury awarded $16.5 million compensation award which sends a message to other corporations dealing with the public.