Injuries after Tough Mudder included heart attacks, electrical shocks

At one point Saturday, City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., was so overwhelmed with patients injured on the Tough Mudder obstacle course that it had to turn people away from its emergency room.

Two people who participated in the race in nearby Gerrardstown, W.Va., suffered heart attacks, according to Teresa McCabe of West Virginia University Hospitals-East, which runs City Hospital. Ten people had hypothermia, orthopedic injuries or head injuries. And two people were treated for drowning, including Avishek Sengupta, a 28-year-old Ellicott City man who died Sunday.

Sengupta's friends and family mourned his death this week after the rock climber jumped into a muddy pool of water on an obstacle called "Walk the Plank" and did not resurface. He was taken off life support Sunday, and the office of the chief medical examiner in Manassas, Va., said Tuesday that he accidentally drowned.

Sengupta was a Towson University graduate who worked in the Baltimore area in digital marketing.

Tough Mudder, which has run 50 similar events in the past three years and has another event planned for the Mid-Atlantic region this fall, is an obstacle course designed to test mental and physical stamina. Participants dodge live electric wires, walk through fire and jump into freezing water, among other challenges.

After Sengupta's death, Tough Mudder has stressed its safety measures, which include inspecting each obstacle before the event and building them in consultation with safety experts. The company says safety is its "top priority" and that it had 75 emergency and safety personnel present on the course over the weekend.

Tough Mudder declined to comment Tuesday on the other injuries, citing patient privacy.

McCabe said City Hospital took in a total of 20 patients from Tough Mudder on Saturday and Sunday, so many that regular trauma patients had to be sent to other area hospitals at one point Saturday. One person admitted to City Hospital on Sunday after suffering electrical shocks was not discharged until Tuesday, McCabe said.

Besides Sengupta, who was later flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., for further treatment, a woman was admitted Saturday for a near-drowning and was discharged that day.

Tough Mudder bills itself as "probably the toughest event on the planet." Sengupta's death was the first for the 3-year-old company.

The Berkeley County sheriff's office in West Virginia is investigating Sengupta's death as an accident.

An earlier version of this article misstated the severity of the electrical shocks suffered by one Tough Mudder competitor. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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