By PAUL YANDALL and NZPA



A Nelson man has become New Zealand's third confirmed Ecstasy victim by "drowning" after drinking too much water.



Dai Bowden, aged 32, a barman, died alone in a Nelson carpark on March 19 after taking Ecstasy.



Toxicology reports issued by Nelson police showed that Mr Bowden died after taking the drug and then drinking a large volume of water.

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Ecstasy users often drink a lot of fluids to avoid dehydration during dance parties.



Mr Bowden's death comes after those of Auckland woman Ngaire O'Neill, aged 27, in 1998 and Whangarei man Jamie Langridge, aged 24, last year.



The amount of Ecstasy found in Mr Bowden's blood was 0.4mg a litre, four times the amount found in Miss O'Neill's blood, but less than the 0.58mg found in Mr Langridge's blood.



Sergeant Stu Koefoed, of Nelson, said he hoped Mr Bowden's death would be a warning to others about the dangers of illegal drugs.



"Some people think they are 10 feet tall and bulletproof but obviously they are not," he said.



"There are no guarantees and people who take it are playing Russian roulette."



Mr Bowden was found dead by a cleaner in the Lipscombe Auctioneers carpark in New St about 8 am on March 19, after attending a birthday party in the city.



Police believe he arrived at the party about 1 am after finishing work. He stayed there for two to three hours and enjoyed a few alcoholic drinks.

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He left between 3.30 am and 4 am and collapsed soon afterwards near his car. Police believe he died a short time later.



Cannabis and water were found in his vehicle.



"It was not the first time he had taken it so he knew the effects it would have on him," said Sergeant Koefoed.



He said Ecstasy - along with methamphetamines - was becoming popular with a lot of young people in Nelson.



Both substances were becoming the illicit drug of choice for people involved in the local dance party scene.



"I am not surprised that someone has died from taking these drugs in Nelson. It is only a matter of time before there is another fatality."

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He said it was not known when Mr Bowden took the drug on the night of his death, nor where he got it from.



Police have not laid any charges in connection with Mr Bowden's death.



A coroner's inquest will be held next month.