Grieving Family Warns Others After Mom’s Heartbreaking Death From Water Intoxication

death from water intoxication ashley summers

A fun trip to the lake ended with a mom’s tragic death from water intoxication. And now, the grieving family of Ashley Summers is warning others in the hopes of saving lives!

35-year-old Ashley Summers loved being near the water. So, Ashley, her husband Cody, and their two daughters, ages 8 and 3, made the most of the Fourth of July holiday by spending some time at the lakes near their home in Monticello, Indiana.

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"They were out on the boat Saturday, Sunday, Monday and then Tuesday,” Ashley’s brother, Devon Miller recalled.

Everything was going great. But by the fourth day, all that fun in the sun left Ashley severely dehydrated. The mother-of-two decided the best way to rehydrate was to drink water. And normally, that would be true. However, Ashley consumed the water far too quickly, resulting in her death from water intoxication.

How Much Water Can Cause Water Intoxication?

Water intoxication occurs when a person drinks too much water over a short period of time. It’s difficult to say specifically how much water is deadly because things like a person’s size, gender, activity level, and so on can have an impact. But doctors generally caution against drinking more than a liter (L) or so per hour for several hours.

According to Dr. Blake Froberg, a toxicologist at IU Health in Indiana, drinking too much water too quickly disrupts the salt/water balance within our bodies. And when this happens, it can have deadly effects.

What Are The Symptoms Of Water Intoxication?

As mentioned, guzzling huge amounts of water in a short period of time can offset our body’s natural salt/water proportions, especially within the cells of the brain. As those cells swell with increased water, this can cause swelling in the brain as a whole. And that can cause folks to act strangely — as if they are intoxicated. In some “worst-case” scenarios, they can even have seizures.

Other symptoms of water intoxication include:

  • Nausea
  • Throwing up
  • Not feeling well
  • Muscle cramps and pain

And the more severe, concerning symptoms include:

  • Seizures
  • Altered mental states
  • Intense headaches

Ultimately, water intoxication can even lead to death. And sadly, that’s exactly what happened to Ashley Summers.

Dehydrated Mom Drinks Too Much Water Too Fast

Feeling incredibly thirsty and realizing she was dehydrated, Ashley drank bottle after bottle of water. Her family says she drank four bottles in just twenty minutes! None of them ever guessed this would prove deadly.

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“I had no idea,” her brother Devon said. “I didn't know that if you drank too much water in a short amount of time that it could actually kill you.”

As they got back to shore and headed home, Ashley didn’t feel quite right. She told her husband, Cody, her toes felt “tingly and numb.” In the car, she got incredibly dizzy. And when they got home, she passed out as she walked from the garage to the house.

Cody began performing CPR and an ambulance rushed Ashley Summers to the hospital. There, doctors discovered swelling in her brain. Her family kept thinking doctors would be able to save her, but sadly that wasn’t the case.

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"Every time they did a brain scan it would come back with just nothing there," Devon explained. "No activity, no response. No nothing."

On July 6, Ashley Summers passed away, leaving her family shocked and devastated. They took some comfort in the fact that, as an organ donor, Ashley’s death would extend someone else’s life. But they mourned the beautiful woman they loved who would no longer walk the earth or be there to watch her children grow.

"They're going through the grief right now, just feeling the loss and the pain," Devon Miller, Ashley’s brother, shared. "The family's big and we're very, very close ... there's definitely going to be a hole in the family."

And so, Ashley Summers’ loved ones share her story in the hopes of preventing other deaths from water intoxication.

How To Avoid Water Intoxication

Death from water intoxication is thankfully rare. But most people don’t realize the dangers of consuming too much water, too fast.

The recommended daily intake of water varies from person to person, depending on age, size, gender, etc. And usually, consuming the recommended amount of water poses no danger. It only becomes a problem when folks try to do it too fast.

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"People probably get into a lot more trouble if they are drinking their daily amount in an hour," Dr. Blake Froberg explained.

Or, in situations like Ashely’s, when people realize they are dehydrated, they may end up overcompensating, trying to catch up quickly. Rather than pounding water in these situations, doctors suggest rehydrating with sports drinks that have electrolytes. Or they recommend eating and drinking at the same time to help keep sodium and water levels balanced.

The family says this knowledge could have saved Ashley Summers’ life. And that’s why they want to use her story to educate others.

"Something that the neurosurgeon said was, ‘If she would have drank a (sports drink) or some other drink that's high in electrolytes, she would probably be alive today,'" Devon said. "That's the takeaway that I want a lot of other people to have as well - if you're feeling thirsty or dehydrated and you drink a glass of water ... and it doesn't quench your thirst, maybe that would be the lightbulb to say, ‘Hey maybe I need to go find a (sports drink).'"

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Our prayers go out to this family during this difficult time. And we applaud them for using their personal story as a way to try and help others avoid a similar tragedy.

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h/t: TODAY

Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Devon G Miller