Forty-year-old Willis Tepania, a father from Kaitaia, reportedly died of a cardiac arrest, five hours after participating in the ice challenge, which also included consuming nearly a liter of bourbon.
Tepania, who took the ice challenge, and followed it up by gulping down almost one liter of Jim Beam bourbon on Saturday night, died of a heart attack, after five hours. The ice challenge, which has become a viral phenomenon in New Zealand and around the world, involves ice water being poured on the participant. This is usually accompanied by alcohol. They then nominate others to take the challenge and make a donation to charity. Tepania reportedly went asleep soon after the challenge. It was only several hours later that it came to the realisation of his family that he had suffered from a cardiac arrest.
Tepania was rushed to the Kaitaia Hospital by ambulance and fire crew, a little after 3 am on Sunday. "He was flown to Whangarei Hospital some time later," said a St John spokesman. The footage of Tespania participating in the ice challenge has now been destroyed.
Dr Leo Schep, toxicologist at the National Poisons Centre, pointed out that over consumption of alcohol is extremely dangerous. "You get the euphoric effects, that you go for, but then you get confusion, coma and, if there's huge amounts, death," said Schep. He further added, "You should moderate your alcohol consumption. Nobody is bullet proof; even the hardest drinkers will come unstuck at some level."
Vicki Moses, who first began the ice challenge to raise fund for her 5-year-old son Austin, who was diagnosed with leukemia, was able to raise $9,000 for her son. However, she said that the challenge was intended for a good purpose and drinking was not part of it. "There needs to be some awareness there and not be silly. It's just a freak accident, but it happened. He made a bad decision. My heart goes out to his family," said Moses.
The Cancer Society, which benefits a lot from the ice challenge, also warned people of over drinking. It posted in one of its Web sites, "Cancer Society cares about your health and well being and so does not support the consumption of alcohol as part of this challenge."
Meanwhile, Tepania's aunt said that he "had been in poor health for a number of years and had a bit of a drinking problem".