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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Some Of The Unique or Bizarre Deaths Part I

Morbid as it may seem but eventually all of us will come to pass yet there are some who did go the unique or bizarre way. These are just some of these unique or extremely rare circumstances of death recorded throughout history and noted as being unusual by multiple sources.

Ancient Times

Draco of Athens

Draco, an Athenian lawmaker, was reportedly smothered to death by gifts of cloaks and hats showered upon him by appreciative citizens at a theatre in Aegina, Greece.

Date of Death: c. 620 BC


Charondas was a Greek lawgiver from Sicily, Italy. According to Diodorus Siculus, he issued a law that anyone who brought weapons into the Assembly must be put to death. One day, he arrived at the Assembly seeking help to defeat some brigands in the countryside, but with a knife still attached to his belt. In order to uphold his own law, he committed suicide.

Date of Death: c. 612 BC

Arrhichion of Phigalia

Arrhichion of Phigalia, a Greek pankratiast, caused his own death during the Olympic finals. Held by his unidentified opponent in a stranglehold and unable to free himself, Arrhichion kicked his opponent, causing him so much pain from a foot/ankle injury that the opponent made the sign of defeat to the umpires, but at the same time broke Arrhichion's neck. Since the opponent had conceded defeat, Arrhichion has been proclaimed the victor posthumously.

Date of Death: c. 564 BC

Milo of Croton

Milo of Croton was an Olympic champion wrestler whose hands reportedly became trapped when he tried to split a tree apart; he was then devoured by wolves (or, in later versions, lions).

Date of Death: 6th century BC


Zeuxis, a Greek painter, died of laughter at his portrait of the goddess Aphrodite. The elderly woman who commissioned it had insisted on modeling for it.

Date of Death: 5th century BC

Pythagoras of Samos

Ancient sources disagree on how the Greek philosopher Pythagoras died, but one late and probably apocryphal legend reported by both Diogenes Laërtius, a third-century AD biographer of famous philosophers, and Iamblichus, a Neoplatonist philosopher, states that Pythagoras was murdered by his political enemies. Supposedly, he almost managed to outrun them, but he came to a bean field and refused to run through it, as he had prohibited beans as ritually unclean. Since cutting through the field would violate his own teachings, Pythagoras simply stopped running and was killed. This story may have been fabricated by Neanthes of Cyzicus, on whom both Diogenes and Iamblichus rely as a source.

Date of Death: c. 495 BC


Anacreon, a poet known for works in celebration of wine, choked to death on a grape stone according to Pliny the Elder. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica suggests that "the story has an air of mythical adaptation to the poet's habits".

Date of Death: c. 485 BC

Heraclitus of Ephesus

According to one account given by Diogenes Laërtius, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus was said to have been devoured by dogs after smearing himself with cow manure in an attempt to cure his dropsy.

Date of Death: c. 475 BC


Themistocles, the Athenian general who won the Battle of Salamis, actually died of natural causes in exile but was widely rumored to have committed suicide by drinking a solution of crushed minerals known as bull's blood. The legend is widely retold in classical sources. The early twentieth-century English classicist Percy Gardner proposed that the story about him drinking bull's blood may have been based on an ignorant misunderstanding of a statue showing Themistocles in a heroic pose, holding a cup as an offering to the gods. The comedic playwright Aristophanes references Themistocles drinking bull's blood in his comedy The Knights (performed in 424 BC) as the most heroic way for a man to die.

Date of Death: c. 459 BC 


According to Valerius Maximus, Aeschylus, the eldest of the three great Athenian tragedians, was killed by a tortoise dropped by an eagle that had mistaken his bald head for a rock suitable for shattering the shell of the reptile. Pliny, in his Natural History, adds that Aeschylus had been staying outdoors to avert a prophecy that he would be killed that day "by the fall of a house".

Date of Death: c. 455 BC

Middle Ages

Constans II

Byzantine Emperor, Constans II was assassinated with a bucket according to Theophilus of Edessa.

Date of Death: July 15, 668 AD

Ragnar Lodbrok

Ragnar Lodbrok, a semi-legendary Viking leader whose exploits are narrated in the Ragnars saga loðbrókar, a thirteenth-century Icelandic saga, is said to have been captured by Ælla of Northumbria, who had him executed by throwing him into a pit of snakes. 

Date of Death: c. 865 AD

Louis III of France

Louis III, king of West Francia, died aged around 18 at Saint-Denis. Whilst mounting his horse to pursue a girl who was running to seek refuge in her father's house, he hit his head on the lintel of a low door and fell, fracturing his skull. 

Date of Death: August 5, 882 AD

Basil I

Byzantine Emperor, Basil's belt was entangled between the antlers of a deer during a hunt and the animal subsequently dragged the emperor for 16 miles (26 km) through the woods. Because of this accident, Basil contracted a fever and died shortly afterward.

Date of Death: August 29, 886

Sigurd the Mighty of Orkney

Sigurd the Mighty, the second Earl of Orkney, strapped the head of his defeated foe Máel Brigte to his horse's saddle. Brigte's teeth rubbed against Sigurd's leg as he rode, causing a fatal infection, according to the Old Norse Heimskringla and Orkneyinga sagas.

Date of Death: 892

Byzantine Emperor Alexander

Died of a stomach disease caused by excessive eating and alcohol allegedly after playing a game of tzykanion (polo) while drunk.

Date of Death: June 6, 913

Edmund Ironside / King Edmund II

Edmund Ironside (Edmund II), King of England in 1016, was allegedly stabbed whilst on a toilet by an assassin hiding underneath.

Date of Death: November 30, 1016

Béla I of Hungary

Béla I of Hungary, when the Holy Roman Empire decided to launch a military expedition against Hungary to restore young Solomon to the throne, was seriously injured when "his throne broke beneath him" in his manor at Dömös. The king who was "half-dead", according to the Illuminated Chronicle was taken to the western borders of his kingdom, where he died at the creek Kanizsa on 11 September 1063. 

Date of Death: September 11, 1063

Crown Prince Philip of France

Crown Prince Philip of France died while riding through Paris when his horse tripped over a black pig that was running out of a dung heap.  

Date of Death: October 13, 1131

Henry I of England

While visiting relatives, Henry supposedly ate too many lampreys against his physician's advice, causing some pain in his gut, and ultimately his death.

Date of Death: December 1, 1135


George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence

George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, was allegedly executed by drowning in a barrel of Malmsey wine, apparently, his own choice once he accepted he was to be killed.

Date of Death: February 18, 1478

Charles VIII of France

Charles VIII of France died as the result of striking his head on the lintel of a door while on his way to watch a game of real tennis. 

Date of Death: April 7, 1498

Victims of the 1518 Dancing Plague

In July 1518, several people died of either heart attacks, strokes, or exhaustion during a dancing mania that occurred in Strasbourg, Alsace (Holy Roman Empire). 

Date of Death: July 1518

Pietro Aretino

The influential Italian author and libertine Pietro Aretino are said to have died of suffocation from laughing too much at an obscene joke during a meal in Venice. Another version states that he fell from a chair from too much laughter, fracturing his skull.

Date of Death: October 21, 1556

Henry II of France

On 30 June 1559, a tournament was held near Place des Vosges to celebrate the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis with his longtime enemies, the Habsburgs of Austria, and to celebrate the marriage of his daughter Elisabeth of Valois to King Philip II of Spain. During a jousting match, King Henry, wearing the colors of his mistress Diane de Poitiers, was wounded in the eye by a fragment of the splintered lance of Gabriel Montgomery, captain of the King's Scottish Guard. Despite the efforts of royal surgeons Ambroise Paré and Andreas Vesalius, the court doctors ultimately "advocated a wait-and-see strategy"; as a result, the king's untreated eye and brain damage led to his death by sepsis on 10 July 1559. Henry's death played a significant role in the decline of jousting as a sport, particularly in France.

Date of Death: July 10, 1559

Hans Staininger

Hans Staininger, the burgomaster of Braunau (then Bavaria, now Austria), died when he broke his neck by tripping over his own beard. The beard, which was 4.5 feet (1.4 m) long at the time, was usually kept rolled up in a leather pouch.

Date of Death: 1567

Marco Antonio Bragadin

Marco Antonio Bragadin, Venetian Captain-General of Famagusta in Cyprus, was gruesomely killed in August 1571, after the Ottomans took over the city. He was dragged round the walls with sacks of earth and stone on his back; next, he was tied to a chair and hoisted to the yardarm of the Turkish flagship, where he was exposed to the taunts of the sailors. Finally, he was taken to his place of execution in the main square, tied naked to a column, and flayed alive. Bragadin's skin was stuffed with straw and sewn, reinvested with his military insignia, and exhibited riding an ox in a mocking procession along the streets of Famagusta. The macabre trophy was hoisted upon the masthead pennant of the personal galley of the Ottoman commander, Amir al-bahr Mustafa Pasha, to be brought to Constantinople as a gift for Sultan Selim II. Bragadin's skin was stolen in 1580 by a Venetian seaman and brought back to Venice, where he was received as a returning hero.

Date of Death: August 17, 1571

Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe contracted a bladder or kidney ailment after attending a banquet in Prague and died eleven days later. According to Kepler's first-hand account, Brahe had refused to leave the banquet to relieve himself, because it would have been a breach of etiquette. After he had returned home, he was no longer able to urinate, except eventually in very small quantities and with excruciating pain. Though initially ascribed to a kidney stone, and later still to potential mercury poisoning, modern analyses indicate Brahe's death resulted from a fatal case of uremia caused by an inflamed prostate.

Date of Death: October 24, 1601

Early Modern Period

Safi of Persia

Shah Safi, a Safavid ruler of Iran, allegedly died due to alcohol intoxication in a drinking contest against a Georgian nobleman, Scedan Chiladze, invited from Mingrelia. 

Date of Death: 1642

Thomas Urquhart

Thomas Urquhart, a Scottish aristocrat, polymath, and first translator of François Rabelais's writings into English is said to have died laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken the throne.

Date of Death: 1660

A sample of a floorboard where James Betts died of asphyxiation

James Betts

James Betts died from asphyxiation after being sealed in a cupboard by Elizabeth Spencer, at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in an attempt to hide him from her father, John Spencer. 

Date of Death: 1667

François Vatel

Vatel, the majordomo of Prince Louis II de Bourbon-Condè, was responsible for a banquet for 2,000 people hosted in honor of King Louis XIV at the Château de Chantilly, where he died. According to a letter by Madame de Sévigné, Vatel was so distraught about the lateness of the seafood delivery and about other mishaps, that he committed suicide with his sword, and his body was discovered when someone came to tell him of the arrival of the fish.

Date of Death: April 24, 1671


The French playwright Molière suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage caused by tuberculosis while playing the part of a hypochondriac in his own play Le malade imaginaire. He disguised his convulsion as part of his performance and finished the show, which ends with his character dead in a chair. After the show, he was carried in the chair to his house, where he died.

Date of Death: February 17, 1673

Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das, and Bhai Dayala

Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das, and Bhai Dayala are revered as early Sikh martyrs. By order of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Bhai Mati Das was executed by being bound between two pillars and sawn in half while his younger brother Bhai Sati Das was wrapped in cotton wool soaked in oil and set on fire, and Bhai Dayala was boiled in a cauldron full of water and roasted over a block of charcoal.

Date of Death: 1675

Thomas Otway

Thomas Otway, an English dramatist, fell on hard times and suffered from poverty in his later years, and was driven by starvation to beg for food. A gentleman who recognized him gave him a guinea, with which he hastened to a baker's shop, purchased a roll, and choked to death on the first mouthful.

Date of Death: April 14, 1685

Jean-Baptiste Lully

Jean-Baptiste Lully, the French composer, died of a gangrenous abscess after accidentally piercing his foot with a staff while he was vigorously conducting a Te Deum. It was customary at that time to conduct by banging a staff on the floor. He refused to have his leg amputated so he could still dance.

Date of Death: March 22, 1687

Frederick, Prince of Wales

The son of George II of Great Britain and father of George III died of a pulmonary embolism but was commonly claimed to have been killed by being struck by a cricket ball.

Date of Death: March 31, 1751

Henry Hall

Henry Hall, a 94-year-old British lighthouse keeper, died several days after fighting a fire at Rudyerd's Tower, during which molten lead from the roof fell down his throat swallowing the molten lead. His autopsy revealed that "the diaphragmatic upper mouth of the stomach greatly inflamed and ulcerated, and the tunica in the lower part of the stomach burnt; and from the great cavity of it took out a great piece of lead ... which weighed exactly seven ounces, five drachms, and eighteen grains". The piece of lead is currently in the collection of the National Museum of Scotland.

Date of Death: December 8, 1755

19th Century

Fragments of the metals, woods, and horns found inside the body of John Cummings upon autopsy

John Cummings

After seeing a circus knife-swallower, Cummings began actually swallowing knives. On one occasion, he swallowed four knives and quickly passed three with no ill health. He later swallowed 14 knives, and after some days of abdominal pain, he passed all of them. He finally swallowed 20 knives and a clasp knife case, but after a few days, he had only passed the case; he died after four years in pain. On autopsy, a knife blade and spring were found in his intestines, and between 30 and 40 fragments of metal, wood, and horn in his stomach.

Date of Death: March 1809

Horse Shoe Brewery, London, c. 1800

Victims of the London Beer Flood

On 17 October 1814, at Meux & Co's Horse Shoe Brewery, a 22-foot-tall (6.7 m) wooden vat of fermenting porter burst, causing chain reactions and destroying several large beer barrels. The beer subsequently flooded the nearby slum and killed 8 people. Several people also subsequently died from alcohol poisoning as a result of vaporized liquor

Date of Death: October 17, 1814

Gouverneur Morris

Gouverneur Morris died from an infection after using a whalebone to clear a blockage in his urinary tract.

Date of Death: November 6, 1816

William Snyder

William Snyder, 13, died in San Francisco, California, reportedly after a circus clown swung him around by his heels.

Date of Death: January 11, 1854

Mathilda of Austria

Archduchess Mathilda of Austria, daughter of Archduke Albrecht, Duke of Teschen, set her dress on fire while trying to hide a cigarette from her father, who had forbidden her to smoke. 

Date of Death: June 6, 1867

Clement Vallandigham

Vallandigham, an American politician, and lawyer who was defending a man accused of murder, accidentally shot himself while demonstrating how the victim might have done so. His client was acquitted.

Date of Death: June 17, 1871

Henry Taylor

Henry Taylor, a pallbearer at Kensal Green Cemetery in London, was crushed by the coffin he was helping carry after he tripped on a stone. The widow of the man in it reportedly "nearly went into hysterics".

Date of Death: November 1872

Sir Ralph Payne-Gallway in front of Thirkleby Hall, near Thirsk, which was demolished in 1927 and was the home of his father, Sir William, the only MP known to have been killed by a turnip.

Sir William Payne-Gallwey, 2nd Baronet

Sir William Payne-Gallwey, a former British MP, died after sustaining severe internal injuries when he fell on a turnip while hunting.

Date of Death: December 19, 1881

Allan Pinkerton

Allan Pinkerton, the founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, tripped on the pavement and severely bit his tongue, which became infected with gangrene.

Date of Death: July 1, 1884

An Unknown Man

At around 8:30 pm, a shower of meteorites fell "like rain" on a village in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq (then part of the Ottoman Empire). One man died and another was paralyzed. The man's death is considered the only credible case of death by a meteorite. 

Date of Death: August 22, 1888

20th Century

1901 - 1960

Stanton Walker

The 20-year-old Walker was watching an amateur baseball game in Morristown, Ohio, with a friend on either side of him. One of the friends borrowed a knife from the other to sharpen his pencil as he was keeping score, and when he was finished passed the knife to Walker to pass to the other friend. As Walker was holding the knife, a foul ball struck him in the hand and drove the knife into his chest next to his heart. His friends asked if he was hurt and he said "not much", but the wound soon began to bleed heavily and he died within minutes.

Date of Death: October 25, 1902

An Unknown Man

An unnamed person was beaten to death with a Bible during a healing ceremony gone wrong in Honolulu, Hawai'i. He was being treated for malaria when his family summoned a Kahuna, who decided he was possessed by devils and tried to exorcise the demons; the Kahuna was charged with manslaughter.

Date of Death: Early 1903

Benjamin Taylor A. Bell

On 18 February 1904, while taking his habitual shortcut to the Canadian Mining Review offices through an adjacent store, Canadian journalist Benjamin Taylor A Bell walked through the wrong door in the store and fell 10 feet (3.0 m) down an elevator shaft. He died of his injuries on 1 March.

Date of Death: March 1, 1904

John Mortensen

19-year-old duck hunter John Mortensen of Wairoa, New Zealand, drowned in about 6 inches (150 mm) of water on the Whare-o-Maraenui reserve in Napier, New Zealand, apparently having fallen while having a seizure. 

Date of Death: May 1, 1904

Melissa M. Tiemann

50-year-old Melissa Tiemann of Los Angeles, California, fell from a streetcar and struck the back of her head on the ground, driving the teeth of an aluminum comb she was wearing into her skull.

Date of Death: July 7, 1904

George Spencer Millet

George Millet, an American teenager who worked as an office boy at an insurance company at the Metropolitan Life Building in New York City, was fleeing six young women stenographers at his workplace intent on giving him kisses for his 15th birthday while carrying an ink eraser in his breast pocket. As the women moved in for their kisses, he fell forward, and the eraser's point pierced his heart, killing him.

Date of Death: February 15, 1909

Doc Powers

Baseball player Michael Riley "Doc" Powers, 38, ran into a wall while chasing a foul ball during a game at Philadelphia's Shibe Park, on April 12, 1909. He died from internal injuries two weeks later.

Date of Death: April 26, 1909

Franz Reichelt

Franz Reichelt, a tailor, and inventor, leaped from the Eiffel Tower and fell to his death wearing a parachute made from cloth, his own invention. He was asked by friends and authorities to use a dummy for the feat, but declined, saying "I intend to prove the worth of my invention". Reichelt is known as the Flying Tailor.

Date of Death: February 4, 1912

Julian Carlton

Carlton, who was a servant to the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, committed a mass murder spree on August 15, 1914, at Wright's Taliesin studio, during which he killed 7 people with a hatchet and set the studio ablaze. Carlton then attempted suicide by drinking hydrochloric acid. However, this failed to kill him. After nearly being lynched, Carlton was arrested and brought to a jail in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, where, having severely damaged his esophagus, he starved to death forty-seven days later.

Date of Death: October 7, 1914

Grigori Rasputin

The Russian mystic died of three gunshot wounds, one of which was a close-range shot to his forehead. Little is certain about his death beyond this, and the circumstances of his death have been the subject of considerable speculation. According to his murderer himself, Prince Felix Yusupov, Grigori Rasputin consumed tea, cakes, and wine that had been laced with cyanide but he did not appear to be affected by it. He was then shot once in the chest and believed to be dead but, after a while, he leaped up and attacked Yusupov, who freed himself and fled. Rasputin followed and made it into the courtyard before being shot again and collapsing into a snowbank. The conspirators then wrapped his body and dropped it into the Malaya Nevka River.

Date of Death: December 30, (December 17 Old Style Julian Calendar) 1916


US Atomic Energy Commission image of SL-1 reactor core being removed from National Reactor Testing Station facility in Idaho 

Richard Leroy McKinley - Specialist 4th Class, United States Army

John A. Byrnes, Richard Leroy McKinley, and Richard C. Legg

During the testing of an experimental nuclear reactor design, in Arco, Idaho, two soldiers and a sailor were killed, but their deaths were not due to radiation poisoning. While trying to bring the reactor online, Army specialist John A. Byrnes was supposed to pull a control rod part way out by hand, but he pulled the rod further than intended. The reactor instantly went critical, which flash-boiled the water around the reactor. The force of the steam expanding lifted the entire reactor into the air about 2.77 meters (9 ft 1 in), in what has been described as a water hammer-like effect. Many components were thrown out of the top, one of which impaled Navy electrician's mate Richard C. Legg, lifted him from a catwalk, and penetrated the ceiling, leaving him dangling. While the reactor was airborne the radioactive steam escaped, spraying the room. The steam was so hot that Byrnes instantly died of severe burns. Army specialist Richard Leroy McKinley suffered a head wound, from which he died later that day. The steam left the bodies of all three men radioactive, so they were buried in lead coffins. Officials feared that moving them would risk spreading contamination along public roadways, so a graveyard was established in the desert only 0.5 kilometers (0.31 mi) from the explosion. The graveyard is still monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency. The three remain the only human beings killed by a reactor explosion in the United States.

Date of Death: January 3, 1961

Nick Piantanida, a 34-year-old New Jersey truck driver, athlete, and skydiver, ascended from Joe Foss Airport in Sioux Falls, South Dakota aboard the Strato-Jump III gondola on May 1, 1966. His goal was to set a new world altitude record for balloons, and to establish a new mark for the highest parachute jump, beating the previous unofficial record of 102,800 set by Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger in 1960. Since the Air Force had not submitted Kittinger's jump as an official record, however, the world mark for the highest skydive was held by a Soviet airman, Major Yevgeny Andreyev for a jump from 83,500 feet in November 1962.

Nick Piantanida

Nick Piantanida, a skydiver, died four months after an attempt to break the record for the highest parachute jump near Joe Foss Field, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; his suit had depressurized, causing brain damage from lack of oxygen.

Date of Death: August 29, 1966

Sanitation workers inspect a garbage truck similar to the one in which two workers were killed on Feb. 1, 1968. Courtesy of the Preservation and Special Collections Department, University Libraries, University of Memphis. 

Robert Walker poses in an undated photo. He was one of two sanitation workers killed on Feb. 1, 1968. Photo supplied by Walker’s sister, Veria Ford.

Echol Cole and Robert Walker

Echol Cole and Robert Walker, two Memphis, Tennessee garbage collectors, were crushed to death after the trash compactor of their garbage truck malfunctioned while they were taking refuge inside the back of the truck during a rainstorm. They were not allowed to take shelter inside a building due to segregation laws. As a result of their deaths, sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike. During the strike, Martin Luther King Jr., who had come to Memphis to support the striking workers, was assassinated. 

Date of Death: February 1, 1968


Alan Fish

The 14-year-old Fish was struck in the head by a Manny Mota foul ball while watching a 16 May Los Angeles Dodgers game and knocked unconscious for a minute. He appeared to recover and the Dodger Stadium infirmary gave him an ice pack, and two aspirin and released him to watch the rest of the game, during which he behaved normally. Afterward, he began shaking and crying uncontrollably during the bus ride to his nearby home; when he arrived his parents sought medical attention but had to go to three hospitals despite his worsening condition before they found one that would accept him early the next morning. His condition required neurosurgery but continued to worsen, and after a seizure led to apparent brain death he was taken off life support two days later; the autopsy showed that part of his fractured skull had become lodged in his brain, causing an intracerebral hemorrhage. He was the first fan in Major League Baseball history to die of injuries caused by a foul ball.

Date of Death: May 20, 1970

Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev

Soviet cosmonauts Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev died when their Soyuz 11 spacecraft depressurized during preparations for re-entry. These are the only reported human deaths outside the Earth's atmosphere.

Date of Death: June 29, 1971

Basil Brown

Basil Brown, 48, a health food advocate from Croydon, England, died from liver damage after he consumed 70 million units of Vitamin A and around 10 US gallons (38 liters) of carrot juice over ten days, turning his skin bright yellow. 

Date of Death: 1974

Alex Mitchell

After watching the "Kung Fu Kapers" episode of The Goodies, Alex Mitchell, of King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, laughed continuously for 25 minutes and then fell dead on his sofa from heart failure due to what doctors discovered years later, via his granddaughter, was a genetic condition called Long QT syndrome.

Date of Death: 1975

Tina Christopherson

Tina Christopherson died when she drank 4 US gallons (15 liters) of water a day to combat stomach cancer.

Date of Death: 1977

Frederick Jansen van Vuuren

Thomas Maldwyn Pryce or simply known as Tom Pryce

Thomas Maldwyn Pryce and Frederick Jansen van Vuuren

Tom Pryce, a driver in the 1977 South African Grand Prix, struck and killed Frederick Jansen Van Vuuren at 170 miles per hour (270 km/h) as Van Vuuren ran across the Kyalami racetrack to extinguish a burning car. The fire extinguisher that Van Vuuren was carrying struck Pryce's head and killed him. 

Date of Death: March 5, 1977

Kurt Gödel

Gödel, an Austrian-American logician, and mathematician, developed an obsessive fear of being poisoned and refused to eat food prepared by anyone but his wife. When she became ill and was hospitalized, he starved to death.

Date of Death: January 14, 1978

Diagram of the firing mechanism of the umbrella used to assassinate Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov: Trigger in umbrella handle, Umbrella handle Spring to push linkage system; Linkage system linking trigger to the valve; Cylinder of compressed air Switch that activates valve; Valve that fires ricin pellet through the 'barrel' of the umbrella

Georgi Markov

Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident writer, was assassinated on a London street via a micro-engineered pellet containing ricin, fired into his leg from an umbrella wielded by someone associated with the Bulgarian Secret Service. At the time, this secret police force was affiliated with the KGB.

Date of Death: September 7, 1978

Ford Motor Company's new casting plant at Flat Rock - Nara - 549726

Robert Williams

Robert Williams, a worker at a Ford plant, became the first person known to be killed by a robot when a factory robot's arm struck him in the head.

Date of Death: January 25, 1979

Flying Lawnmower

John Bowen

John Bowen, 20, from Nashua, New Hampshire, was fatally injured at a halftime show at Shea Stadium when a 40-pound (18 kg) model plane shaped like a lawnmower crashed into the stands. He died four days later.

Date of Death: December 13, 1979


Monica Myers

Monica Myers, the mayor of Betterton, Maryland, was carrying out maintenance work around the sewage tanks at the town's largest municipal facility. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Myers fell 4 feet (1.2 m) from the catwalks into a 15-foot (4.6 m) aeration tank, filled with human waste which a deputy in the town's police department described as having the consistency of "putty". Her body was found floating face down by the town engineer the next day.

Date of Death: March 20, 1980

Lourdes Maria da Silva

Lourdes Maria da Silva of Caxias do Sul, Brazil, was walking upstairs carrying a Pyrex glass when she tripped, broke it, and fell on the shards, cutting an artery in her neck. She died on her way to the hospital.

Date of Death: August 1980

Boris Sagal

Boris Sagal, a Ukrainian-American film director, died while shooting the TV miniseries World War III in Portland, Oregon, after he walked into the tail rotor blades of a helicopter and was partially decapitated. He died five hours later at a hospital in Portland.

Date of Death: May 22, 1981

David Grundman

David Grundman, shooting at cacti with his shotgun near Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Arizona, was crushed when a 4-foot (1.2 m) limb detached and fell on him.

Date of Death: February 4, 1982

Michael Scaglione

Michael Scaglione died after smashing his golf club against a golf cart. The head broke off and impaled him in the throat, severing his jugular vein. 

Date of Death: April 15, 1982

Myca Dinh Le (right) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (left)

Actor Vic Morrow

The scene shortly before the incident

Vic Morrow, Myca Dinh Le, and Renee Shin-Yi Chen

On 23 July 1982, during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie, Vic Morrow, Myca Dinh Le (7), and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (6) were performing a scene in which their characters are pursued by a helicopter. The heat from special-effects explosions caused the helicopter to fall on them. Morrow and Le were decapitated and Chen was crushed.

Date of Death: July 23, 1982

1983 US Open Actual Scene

Dick Wertheim

Dick Wertheim, a tennis linesman, died after a ball struck him in the groin and he fell out of his chair, striking his head on the hardcourt surface during one of the matches of the 1983 US Open.

Date of Death: September 15, 1983

Byford Dolphin in dry dock at Invergordon, Scotland, in 2008

Overhead diagram of the diving bell compression chamber in the Byford Dolphin at the moment that the accident occurred. D1 – D4 are the divers; T1 and T2 are the dive tenders.

The victim's fragmented body and his organs were found after the explosion

The scene of the explosion

Truls Hellevik (in brown jacket)

Truls Hellevik 

Truls Hellevik, 34, a Norwegian diver, was explosively dismembered in a diving bell accident on the North Sea Byford Dolphin drilling rig. Three other divers, Edwin Arthur Coward (British, 35 years old), Roy P. Lucas (British, 38) and Bjørn Giæver Bergersen (Norwegian, 29), and dive tender William Crammond, were also killed. Crammond opened the clamp before Hellevik could close the chamber door. The nine-atmosphere air pressure explosively decompressed, instantly forcing Hellevik's body through a 60-centimeter-diameter (24 in) opening, fragmenting it into numerous pieces. The other tender, Martin Saunders, was severely injured.

Date of Death: November 5, 1983

Jimmy Ferrozzo

Jimmy Ferrozzo, a bouncer at the Condor Club in San Francisco, died while engaging in sexual intercourse with his girlfriend, Theresa Hill, on a grand piano that was lowered from the ceiling by a hydraulic motor. He accidentally activated the lifting mechanism which pinned him against the ceiling leading to his suffocation. Hill survived the accident.

Date of Death: November 1983

Reginald Tucker

Reginald Tucker, a young lawyer who raced along a Chicago skyscraper corridor without wearing his glasses, crashed through a window and plunged 39 stories to his death, during an early Fourth of July party. Police said portions of the man's body were scattered around the street near the 41-story Prudential Building in the city's downtown area. Several horrified onlookers attending holiday celebrations heard the glass shatter and saw him fall to his death. One witness said it was "like an explosion" when he impacted a car.

Date of Death: July 4, 1984


Daniel John O'Brien

Daniel John O'Brien, 31, committed suicide by jumping into one of the engines of a British Airways Boeing 747 at Piarco International Airport, Trinidad and Tobago. He is said to have scaled an airport wall in the nude, attacked four security guards and stolen their four-wheel-drive vehicle, driving the vehicle into the jet, then clambered out of the wreckage, smeared grease on his bleeding shoulder, and hurled himself into one of the plane's engines.

Date of Death: January 14, 1990

Greg Austin Gingrich

While Greg Austin Gingrich, 38, was vacationing at the Grand Canyon in Coconino County, Arizona, with his teenage daughter, he began to play-act losing his balance to frighten her. Gingrich leaped atop a guard wall and began wind-milling his arms in an exaggerated manner, then "comically" fell from the wall on the canyon side onto a short slope where he assumed he would land safely. His daughter, unimpressed with his antics, walked on. Gingrich, however, missed his footing and fell approximately 400 feet (120 m) into the canyon to his death. 

Date of Death: November 28, 1992

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee, 28, film actor, martial artist, and son of Bruce Lee, was killed by an improperly loaded prop gun while filming. 

Date of Death: March 31, 1993

Garry Hoy

Garry Hoy, 38, a lawyer in Toronto, fell from the 24th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre while demonstrating that its windows were "unbreakable". He threw himself against one, which, true to his assertion, did not break, but instead popped out of its frame. 

Date of Death: July 9, 1993

Gloria Ramirez

Gloria Ramirez, 31, died from kidney failure related to her cervical cancer at the emergency room of Riverside General Hospital in Riverside, California. While treating her, several of the hospital staff became ill, suffering from loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, and muscle spasms. Shortly before dying, she was allegedly covered with an oily sheen, which smelled of fruit and garlic. When drawing her blood with a syringe, nurses noticed it had a smell similar to ammonia and there were unusual particles floating in it.

Date of Death: February 19, 1994

Jeremy Brenno

Jeremy Brenno, 16, was playing golf when he hit a bench out of frustration with his club. This caused the club shaft to break, bounce back, and pierce his heart, killing him.

Date of Death: July 9, 1994

Sample of tampons

Mark Gleeson

Mark Gleeson, 26, from Headley Down, Hampshire, attempted to cure his snoring by inserting tampons into his nostrils. He died from suffocation, with sleeping pills adding to his breathing difficulties

Date of Death: March 9, 1996

Karen Wetterhahn

Karen Wetterhahn, a professor of chemistry at Dartmouth College, died ten months after a few drops of dimethylmercury (an organomercury compound and one of the strongest-known neurotoxins) landed on her protective gloves. Although she had been following the required procedures, it permeated the gloves and her skin within seconds.

Date of Death: June 8, 1997

Bena Tshadi (Football Team)

An entire football team of 11 in Eastern Kasai, Democratic Republic of the Congo, was fatally struck by lightning while playing. The other team left the scene unharmed, and local investigators blamed the lightning strike on witchcraft.

Date of Death: October 1998

Alberto Fargo

Alberto Fargo, of Lisbon, Portugal, died from falling out of a 5-story window whilst performing a tango. According to witnesses, Fargo was demonstrating to students how to keep their heads high by looking at the ceiling and failed to notice the open window beside him.

Date of Death: 1998

21st Century


Bliss Scott

Bliss Scott, 7, died after touching an African snail, from which she contracted meningoencephalitis caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

Date of Death: June 4, 2000

Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes

Bernd Jürgen Brandes was voluntarily slaughtered and eaten by Armin Meiwes, following an appointment via the Internet. At his request, Meiwes first amputated his penis and they unsuccessfully tried to eat it. Meiwes taped the entire amputation and killing and conserved and ate Brandes' meat. Meiwes was eventually arrested and sentenced to life in prison. Meiwes became a vegetarian during his prison sentence. 

Date of Death: March 9, 2001

Michael Colombini

Michael Colombini, 6, died during an MRI scan at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York after an oxygen tank was magnetically pulled into the machine and fractured his skull.

Date of Death: July 28, 2001

Gilbert Tinoso

Gilbert Tinoso, 38, died in Burbank, California after the spare wheel from an oncoming Mack cement truck in the opposite stretch of the freeway broke loose and struck the cab of his Toyota Tacoma. The other passenger in the Tacoma received minor chest injuries from the crash, and the Mack driver had no injuries.

Date of Death: December 22, 2001

Brittanie Cecil

Brittanie Cecil, 13, died from her injuries at an NHL hockey game after a deflected puck struck her in the left temple. She was the first and only fan fatality in the league's history.

Date of Death: March 18, 2002

Roger Wallace 

Wallace, 60, was flying his 5-foot (1.5 m) wingspan toy in Tucson, Arizona, when he lost sight of it in the bright sun. It struck him in the chest, killing him.

Date of Death: May 18, 2002

Virginia Graeme Baker

Baker, 7, was entrapped underwater due to the suction from a hot tub drain and drowned

Date of Death: June 2002

Brian Wells

Brian Douglas Wells, a pizza delivery man from Erie, Pennsylvania, was killed after a collar bomb around his neck exploded as part of a bank robbery scheme.

Date of Death: August 28, 2003

Hitoshi Nikaidoh

Hitoshi Nikaidoh, a doctor in Houston, Texas, was killed after his head was trapped in elevator doors at the hospital where he worked. He was partially decapitated as the elevator ascended, and he also sustained injuries to his ribs and spine.

Date of Death: August 16, 2003

Phillip Quinn

Phillip Quinn, 24, from Kent, Washington, was killed when a lava lamp he was heating on a stove exploded, and a shard pierced his heart.

Date of Death: 2004


Muraka Jenny Vearncombe

Muraka Jenny Vearncombe, 42, was struck in the head by a piece of a metal pipe flung by a tractor-pulled lawnmower as she walked to work in Townsville, Australia.

Date of Death: March 3, 2010

A computer reconstruction of Gareth Williams' bathroom when he was discovered on August 16, 2010

Gareth Williams

Welsh mathematician and GCHQ spy Gareth Williams, 31, was found dead and naked in a bag that had been padlocked from the outside, in the bath of his home in Central London. The inquest found his death was likely criminal, although a Metropolitan Police investigation later found that it was likely an accident.

Date of Death: August 16, 2010

Mike Edwards

Mike Edwards, 62, a cellist and founding member of the band Electric Light Orchestra, died when a large, round bale of hay rolled down a hill and collided with the van he was driving.

Date of Death: September 3, 2010

James William "Jimi" Heselden

Jimi Heselden, 62, owner of Segway Inc., died after apparently riding a Segway Personal Transport System off a cliff in Thorp Arch, England. The coroner came to the conclusion that Heselden had likely fallen from the cliff with the Segway after "getting into difficulty" reversing to allow a man walking his dog to pass him. 

Date of Death: September 26, 2010

Jose Luis Ochoa

Jose Luis Ochoa, 35, died after being stabbed in the leg at an illegal cockfight in Tulare County, California, by the rooster's gaff or razor-sharp stark blade described as "a bird with a knife-like spur strapped to its leg." 

Date of Death: January 30, 2011

An Unknown Man and Woman

An unnamed woman from Gatineau, Canada, 25, and an unnamed 40-year-old man from Ottawa were killed in an accident on a rural Quebec road when a "flying bear" collided with their SUV. The 200-kilogram (440 lb) black bear was sent airborne by a car in front of the SUV after it had stepped into the path of traffic on Highway 148. The bear passed through the windshield, hitting the driver and the passenger sitting behind her before passing through the rear window. The driver's boyfriend was in the front passenger seat and received injuries to his upper body which were described as "not life-threatening". The bear also died.

Date of Death: June 6, 2011

Sample of a clothes horse that killed Brian Depledge

Brian Depledge

Father of two Brian Depledge, 38, was home alone placing wet laundry on a clothes horse, a type of drying rack, when he accidentally tripped over a small stool and fell backward into the rack, trapping himself. Authorities state it appears he attempted to free himself, but the struggle only caused the rungs to tighten around his chest and neck even more. Coroner Prof. Paul Marks remarked his death was "probably rarer than being struck by lightning or struck by a meteorite."

Date of Death: September 10, 2011

Erica Marshall

Erica Marshall, 28, a British veterinarian in Ocala, Florida, died when the horse she was treating in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber kicked the wall releasing a spark from its horseshoe, causing a fire and explosion. The horse was also killed and another worker, Sorcha Moneley, was seriously injured.

Date of Death: February 10, 2012

Anthony Hensley

Anthony Hensley, 37, was killed by a swan while kayaking across a pond at a residential complex in Des Plaines, Illinois. After getting too close to the bird's nest, the swan attacked him, threw him out of the kayak, and prevented him from surfacing; he ultimately drowned.

Date of Death: April 14, 2012

Inspecting: Officials look at part of the CSX freight train that derailed alongside a parking lot overnight in Ellicott City

Elizabeth Nass

Rose Mayr

Elizabeth Nass and Rose Mayr

Elizabeth Nass and Rose Mayr, both 19, died after more than 20 coal cars (out of 90) from a CSX freight train derailed in Ellicott City, Maryland. They were walking alongside the train tracks late at night. Reports say that the two women were found buried in a pile of coal. The derailment was possibly caused by a broken rail according to the NTSB.

Date of Death: August 21, 2012


Sergio Millán

Sergio Millán, 59, was alone in his apartment in Torreforta, Tarragona, Spain when an explosion in a petrochemical plant 3 kilometers (2 mi) away launched a one-ton iron plate into the apartment above him, which caused the ceiling to collapse, killing him. 

Date of Death: January 14, 2020

Valentin Didenko and 2 others

Valentin Didenko, 32, died while celebrating his wife's birthday. Someone poured 25 kilograms (55 lb) of dry ice into the sauna pool, as a result of which a large amount of carbon dioxide was released. Valentin, as well as two other people whose names are not mentioned, died of asphyxia due to a lack of oxygen 

Date of Death: February 28, 2020

Yohanis Budi Santoso

Yohanis Budi Santoso, 21, was strangled in the middle of the road while riding his motorcycle in Surakarta, Indonesia. A 5-meter (16 ft) long, very thin glass kite line that had been stuck on a nearby electrical pole struck his neck and cut his carotid artery. He managed to get up and untangle himself. He was brought to the hospital by a passer-by but later pronounced dead on arrival of exsanguination.

Date of Death: June 11, 2020

Agus Syaiful Rochmad

Agus Syaiful Rochmad, 58, died while he was jogging around his neighborhood in Trenggalek, Indonesia. A homemade kite spool made of a block of wood slipped and catapulted from a child's hand during an attempt to retrieve a stuck kite, hitting Rochmad's right temple and killing him instantly.

Date of Death: October 20, 2020

Christian Bolok

The lieutenant, who was the police chief of San Jose, Northern Samar, Philippines died during an anti-gambling raid. He was trying to grab a cockfighting rooster when the razor-sharp metal blade attached to the rooster’s leg to kill its opponent, cut a gaping hole in his leg, and sliced his femoral artery, causing him to bleed to death. 

Date of Death: October 26, 2020

Luke Ramone Harper

Luke Ramone Harper, 8, of Ringsend, Dublin, Ireland, died after inhaling helium from a balloon that he placed over his head. The balloon had been bought for his birthday a week prior. 

Date of Death: April 2, 2021

The Stegosaurus statue where the body of a man was found in its hind leg

An Unknown Man

The body of a 39-year-old man was found wedged inside the hind leg of a papier-mâché statue of a stegosaurus in the town of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Catalonia, Spain. Initial police reports did not suspect foul play. A representative of the local police force hypothesized that the individual may have crawled inside headfirst to retrieve a lost mobile phone before his leg became stuck, trapping him inside. Firefighters had to cut the statue apart to extract the body; police observers believed that he may have been trapped in there for "a couple of days". Local media sources claimed that the family of the victim had reported him missing only hours prior to the discovery. The body was discovered when a man and his son noticed an unusual smell from the statue and saw the body through a crack in the statue.

Date of Death: May 2021

Eleanor Skerritt

Eleanor Skerritt, 50, from Margam, Wales, accidentally became stuck in a decking well after apparently slipping or losing her balance while cleaning. Her "loose and ill-fitting" footwear left her "unable to regain her footing" after losing her balance. Her autopsy revealed she died of "positional asphyxia" and "died through misfortune" according to the coroner. 

Date of Death: July 24, 2021

Sample of an epoxy resin instant glue

Salman Mirza

Salman Mirza, an Indian man in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, died after using epoxy resin as a contraceptive instead of a condom, while intoxicated from using the same resin as an inhalant. The man was found unconscious outside a hotel the following morning but died of multiple organ failure after being hospitalized.

Date of Death: August 2021

Tony Eyles

Tony Eyles, 42, died at a McDonald's drive-through in Vancouver, Canada, after partially opening his car door to retrieve a dropped payment card. His car rolled forward and collided with the restaurant's structure, pinning him between the car door and the vehicle's frame. Despite attempts to revive the victim, he died on the scene. 

Date of Death: September 9, 2021

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Preservation and Special Collections Department, University Libraries, University of Memphis.
Dartmouth College Library

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Palomo, David (15 January 2020). "La plancha de una tonelada que voló 3 km antes de matar al frutero Sergio en Tarragona" [The 1 ton plate that flew 3 km before killing fruit seller Sergio in Tarragona] (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 February 2022. Porque, ¿qué probabilidades había de que se produjera una explosión en la planta petroquímica de IQOXE? ¿Y de que una chapa de hierro (conocida como una plancha) de una tonelada volara tres kilómetros y matara a alguien?... "Es un caso inverosímil" –tanto como que es el único fallecido que no trabajaba en la planta–, reconocía Pau Ricomà, alcalde de Tarragona. Pero, sin duda, es "la principal hipótesis" que mantiene la investigación. Surrealista, sí, pero cierto. ("Because how likely was there to be an explosion at the IQOXE petrochemical plant, and that a one-ton sheet of iron (known as a plate) would fly three kilometers and kill someone?... "It is an implausible case" – as much as he is the only deceased who did not work at the plant – acknowledged Pau Ricomà, mayor of Tarragona. But, without a doubt, it is "the main hypothesis" that maintains the research. Surreal, yes, but true.")