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"VID" 2007 Obituary


VIDLER 2007-01-04 published
Wiper-fluid punch suspected in death
By Kelly PEDRO and Kate DUBINSKI, Free Press Reporters, Thurs., January 4, 2007
One person is dead and three are in hospital after drinking punch mixed in an windshield-washer fluid container at two holiday parties in Chatham-Kent.
The host of one of the parties, Rebecca DEMEURICHY, 25, died yesterday after drinking punch that police think was contaminated with windshield-wiper fluid, which contains methyl alcohol.
Her husband, Rob DEMEURICHY, is one of the three people being treated at a London hospital.
Police said they are still investigating whether the contamination was intentional.
One person was in critical and another in serious condition at London Health Sciences Centre after being flown by air ambulance from Erieau.
The parties took place in Erieau, Chatham Kent-Police said. The condition of the third person was not known.
Police are urging anyone who was at DEMEURICHY home at 857 Mariners Rd., or at the home of Mary Lou VIDLER and Hartley VIDLER at 1300 Vidler Ave. between December 23 and January 1, to go to the nearest emergency department immediately.
"The sooner you (go) to hospital after drinking something toxic, the better chance you have," said Doctor Margaret THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON, medical director of the Ontario Regional Poison Information Centre.
The VIDLERs, in their 70s, and DEMEURICHYs, in their mid-20s, are related, said Insp. George FLIKWEERT.
Police received a call to 857 Mariners Rd. in Erieau yesterday morning.
When they arrived, they found one person dead. Another was taken by helicopter to a London hospital.
Later yesterday, one more person was flown to a London hospital and another person drove themselves, police said.
The death and illnesses are being linked to an alcoholic mixed punch served at the two addresses on December 23 and December 31, FLIKWEERT said.
The drink concoction was mixed in a container and may have had traces of windshield washer fluid.
An autopsy could begin as early as today to determine DEMEURICHY's cause of death.
The mixed drink was served at an open house party at the VIDLER residence on December 23 and again at a New Year's Eve party at the DEMEURICHY home.
Rebecca DEMEURICHY was ill Tuesday, two days after the second party, FLIKWEERT said.
Between 12 and 18 people who were at one or both of the residences have already been contacted and gone to hospital, FLIKWEERT said. He said anyone who was at either house for a drink may have been contaminated.
"People may be laying around thinking they have the flu and in fact it's a… poisoning that may cause serious bodily harm or death," he said.
The problem with drinking "other alcohols" such as those found in gasoline antifreeze and windshield-washer fluid is that the body doesn't metabolize them right away, THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON said.
Someone who drank "bad alcohol" could just feel drunk, and then feel nothing at all.
"They're not toxic until they're broken down into their byproducts," THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON said.
If the "bad alcohol" was mixed with the usual stuff people drink at parties -- spirits, wine or beer -- then the symptoms would be delayed, she added, because kidneys first break down the non-toxic alcohol.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breath or vision changes, said Willi KIRENKO, a nurse practitioner.
She said only people who were at either address and drank an alcoholic beverage should be concerned.
People experiencing symptoms will have blood work taken and will know in about 30 minutes how serious their condition is, KIRENKO said
She urged people to take the warning seriously.
"The treatment for this… is time sensitive," she said.
Poison control has been helping direct the hospital with treatment.
Treatment includes dialysis -- one of the effects of drinking something such as windshield-washer fluid is kidney failure -- and intravenous fluids, THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON said.
"It's very serious. We could save your life, but you could have permanent blindness… If all the byproducts haven't been made by the time you go to the hospital, we can delay the formation of the byproducts. (But) we can't reverse the problems," she said.
If You Where There
Police ask anyone who was at either address -- 1300 Vidler Ave. or 857 Mariners Rd., in Erieau -- during the holidays to contact Chatham-Kent police at 519-436-6616 and go to the nearest emergency department.

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