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List of unusual deaths

This article provides a list of unusual deaths â unique, or extremely rare circumstances recorded throughout history. The list also includes less rare, but still unusual, deaths of prominent people.

Contents

[edit] Antiquity

  • c. 620 BC: Draco, Athenian law-maker, was smothered to death by gifts of cloaks showered upon him by appreciative citizens at a theatre on Aegina.[1]
  • 6th century BC: Legend says Greek wrestler Milo of Croton came upon a tree-trunk split with wedges. Testing his strength, he tried to rend it with his bare hands. The wedges fell, trapping his hands in the tree making him unable to defend himself from attacking wolves, which devoured him.[2]
  • 272 BC: According to Plutarch, Pyrrhus of Epirus, conqueror and the source of the term pyrrhic victory, died while fighting an urban battle in Argos when an old woman threw a roof tile at him, stunning him and allowing an Argive soldier to kill him.[4]
  • 53 BC: The Roman general and consul Marcus Licinius Crassus was reported as having been put to death by the Parthians after losing the battle of Carrhae, by being forced to drink a goblet of molten gold, symbolic of his great wealth. A much more likely scenario is that in which, following his death, the Parthian executioner(s) poured said 'molten gold' into his mouth as a message/symbol representing the perils of his 'great thirst for wealth.'[9]
  • 4 BC: Herod the Great reportedly suffered from fever, intense rashes, colon pains, foot drop, inflammation of the abdomen, a putrefaction of his genitals that produced worms, convulsions, and difficulty breathing before he finally expired.[10] However, gruesome deaths have often been attributed by various authors to disliked rulers, including several Roman emperors (for example, Galerius).
  • c. 98: Saint Antipas, Bishop of Pergamum, was roasted to death in a brazen bull during the persecutions of Emperor Domitian. Saint Eustace, as well as his wife and children supposedly suffered a similar fate under Hadrian. According to legend, the creator of the brazen bull, Perillos of Athens, was the first to be put into the brazen bull when he presented his invention to Phalaris, Tyrant of Agrigentum, but he was taken out before he died to be thrown from a hill where he met his ultimate demise.[13]
  • 260: Roman emperor Valerian, after being defeated in battle and captured by the Persians, was supposedly used as a footstool by the King Shapur I. After a long period of punishment and humiliation, Shapur is said to have had the emperor skinned alive and his skin stuffed with straw or dung and preserved as a trophy.[15] However this story is generally considered to be unreliable as it was likely motivated by the author's will to establish that the persecutors of the Christians as having died fitting deaths;[16] and by other Near East Roman authors' desire to establish the Persians as barbarians.[17]
  • 415: Hypatia of Alexandria, Greek mathematician and Pagan philosopher, was murdered by a Christian mob by having her skin ripped off with sharp sea-shells; what remained of her was burned. (Various types of shells have been named: clams, oysters, abalones, etc.. Other sources claim tiles or pottery-shards were used.)[18]

[edit] Middle Ages

  • 9th century: Prince Popiel of Goplans or Polans tribe was eaten alive by mice in a tower in Kruszwica. This curse was a consequence of his lack of hospitability or obeying traditions.
  • 892: Sigurd the Mighty of Orkney strapped the head of his defeated foe, M¡el Brigte, to his horse's saddle. The teeth of this head grazed against his leg as he rode, causing an infection that killed him.
  • 1219: According to legend, Inalchuk, the Muslim governor of the Central Asian town of Otrar, was captured and killed by the invading Mongols, who poured molten silver in his eyes, ears, and throat.[20]

[edit] Renaissance

  • 1514: György Dózsa, Székely man-at-arms and peasants' revolt leader in Hungary, was condemned to sit on a red-hot iron throne with a red-hot iron crown on his head and a red-hot sceptre in his hand (mocking at his ambition to be king), by Hungarian landed nobility in Transylvania. While Dózsa was still alive, he was set upon and his partially roasted body was eaten by six of his fellow rebels, who had been starved for a week beforehand.[25]
  • 1556: Humayun, a Mughal emperor, was descending from the roof of his library after observing Venus, when he heard the adhan, or call to prayer. Humayun's practice was to bow his knee when he heard the azaan, and when he did his foot caught the folds of his garment, causing him to fall down several flights. He died three days later of the injuries.[26]
  • 1599: Nanda Bayin, a Burman king, reportedly laughed to death when informed, by a visiting Italian merchant, that "Venice was a free state without a king."[27]
  • 1601: Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer, according to legend, died of complications resulting from a strained bladder at a banquet. It would have been extremely bad etiquette to leave the table before the meal was finished, so he stayed until he became fatally ill. This version of events has since been brought into question as other causes of death (murder by Johannes Kepler, suicide, and mercury poisoning among others) have come to the fore.[28]
  • 1671: François Vatel, chef to Louis XIV, committed suicide because his seafood order was late and he could not stand the shame of a postponed meal. His body was discovered by an aide, sent to tell him of the arrival of the fish. The authenticity of this story is quite questionable.[32]
  • 1673: Molière, the French actor and playwright, died after being seized by a violent coughing fit, while playing the title role in his play Le Malade imaginaire (The Hypochondriac).[33]
  • 1687: Jean-Baptiste Lully, composer, died of a gangrenous abscess after piercing his foot with a staff while he was vigorously conducting a Te Deum, as it was customary at that time to conduct by banging a staff on the floor. The performance was to celebrate the king's recovery from an illness.[34]

[edit] 18th century

  • 1751: Julien Offray de La Mettrie, a major materialist and sensualist philosopher and author of L'Homme machine, died of overeating at a feast given in his honor. His philosophical adversaries suggested that by doing so, he had contradicted his theoretical doctrine with the effect of his practical actions.[35]
  • 1771: Adolf Frederick, king of Sweden, died of digestion problems on 12 February 1771 after having consumed a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, topped off with 14 servings of his favourite dessert: semla served in a bowl of hot milk.[37] He is thus remembered by Swedish schoolchildren as "the king who ate himself to death."[38]
  • 1794: John Kendrick, an American sea captain and explorer, was killed in the Hawaiian Islands when a British ship mistakenly used a loaded cannon to fire a salute to Kendrick's vessel.[39]

[edit] Modern Age

[edit] 19th century

  • 1814: London Beer Flood, 9 people were killed when 323,000 imperial gallons (1,468,000L) of beer in the Meux and Company Brewery burst out of their vats and gushed into the streets.
  • 1871: Clement Vallandigham, U.S. Congressman and political opponent of Abraham Lincoln, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound suffered in court while representing the defendant in a murder case. Demonstrating how the murder victim could have inadvertently shot himself, the gun, which Vallandigham believed to be unloaded, discharged and mortally wounded him. The defendant was acquitted.

[edit] 20th century

  • 1912: Franz Reichelt, tailor, fell to his death off the first deck of the Eiffel Tower while testing his invention, the coat parachute. It was his first ever attempt with the parachute and he had told the authorities in advance he would test it first with a dummy.[43]
  • 1916: Grigori Rasputin, Russian mystic, was reportedly poisoned while dining with a political enemy, shot in the head, shot three more times, bludgeoned, and then thrown into a frozen river, although not before being castrated. When his body washed ashore, an autopsy showed the cause of death to be hypothermia. However, there is now some doubt about the credibility of this account. Another account said that he was poisoned, shot, and stabbed, at which time he got up and ran off - and was later found to have drowned in a frozen river.[44]
  • 1919 Ray "Chappie" Chapman, shortstop for the Cleveland Indians baseball team, was killed when a submarine ball thrown by Carl Mays hit him in the temple. He took two steps after being given a walk, collapsed, and died the next day.
  • 1919: In the Boston Molasses Disaster, 21 people were killed and 150 were injured when a tank containing as much as 2,300,000 US gal (8,700,000 L) of molasses exploded, sending a wave travelling at approximately 35 mph (56 km/h) through part of Boston, Massachusetts, United States.[46][47]
  • 1920: Dan Andersson, a Swedish author, died of cyanide poisoning while staying at Hotel Hellman in Stockholm, because the hotel staff had failed to clear the room after using hydrogen cyanide against bedbugs.
  • 1920, 25 October: Alexander I King of the Hellenes, was taking a walk in the Royal Gardens, when his dog was attacked by a monkey. The King attempted to defend his dog, receiving bites from both the monkey and its mate. [48]. The animals were diseased, inducing infection which led to sepsis. He died three weeks later. His death resulted in the reinstatement of his deposed father Constantine I who, being pro-German, changed the fortunes of the Greek nation for the years to come.
  • 1923: Martha Mansfield, an American film actress, died after sustaining severe burns on the set of the film The Warrens of Virginia after a smoker's match, tossed by a cast member, ignited her Civil War costume of hoopskirts and ruffles.[49]
  • 1925: Zishe (Siegmund) Breitbart, a circus strongman and Jewish folklore hero, died as a result of a demonstration in which he drove a spike through five one-inch (2.54 cm) thick oak boards using only his bare hands. He accidentally pierced his knee and the rusted spike caused an infection which led to fatal blood poisoning. He was the subject of the Werner Herzog film, Invincible.[52]
  • 1926: Harry Houdini, a famous American escape artist, was punched in the stomach by an amateur boxer who had heard that Houdini could withstand any blow to his body above his waist, excluding his head. Though this had been done with Houdini's permission, complications from this injury caused him to die days later, on October 31, 1926. It was later determined that Houdini died of a ruptured appendix.[53]
  • 1927: J.G. Parry-Thomas, a Welsh racing driver, was decapitated by his car's drive chain which, under stress, snapped and whipped into the cockpit. He was attempting to break his own land speed record which he had set the previous year. Despite being killed in the attempt, he succeeded in setting a new record of 171 mph (275 km/h).[54]
  • 1927: Isadora Duncan, dancer, died of a broken neck when one of the long scarves she was known for caught on the wheel of a car in which she was a passenger.[55]
  • 1928: Alexander Bogdanov, a Russian physician, died following one of his experiments, in which the blood of a student suffering from malaria and tuberculosis, L. I. Koldomasov, was given to him in a transfusion.[56]
  • 1930: William Kogut, an inmate on death row at San Quentin, committed suicide with a pipe bomb created from several packs of playing cards and the hollow leg from his cot, which he heated with a kerosene heater. At the time, the ink in red playing cards contained nitrocellulose, which is flammable and when wet can create an explosive mixture.[57][58]
  • 1933: Michael Malloy, a homeless man, was murdered by gassing after surviving multiple poisonings, intentional exposure, and being struck by a car. Malloy was murdered by five men in a plot to collect on life insurance policies they had purchased.[60]
  • 1935: Baseball player Len Koenecke was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher by the crew of an aircraft he had chartered, after provoking a fight with the pilot while the plane was in the air.[61]
  • 1939: Finnish actress Sirkka Sari died when she fell down a chimney. She was at a cast party celebrating the completion of a movie, her third and last. She mistook a chimney for a balcony and fell into a heating boiler, dying instantly.[62][63]
  • 1944: 74 men died when the US Submarine USS Tang accidentally torpedoed itself whilst on a combat patrol off the coast of Taiwan.[67]
  • 1944: Inventor and chemist Thomas Midgley, Jr. accidentally strangled himself with the cord of a pulley-operated mechanical bed of his own design.[68]
  • 1946: Louis Slotin, chemist and physicist, died of radiation poisoning after being exposed to lethal amounts of ionizing radiation from the same core that killed Harry K. Daghlian, Jr.. He allowed the core to become fully shielded by a spherical beryllium reflector when the screwdriver he was using to separate the two halves of the shield slipped, causing the core to go critical. The sphere of plutonium was thereafter nicknamed the Demon core.[70]
  • 1947: The Collyer Brothers, extreme cases of compulsive hoarders, were found dead in their home in New York. The younger brother, Langley, died by falling victim to a booby trap he had set up, causing a mountain of objects, books, and newspapers to fall on him crushing him to death. His blind brother, Homer, who had depended on Langley for care, died of starvation some days later.[71]
  • 1959: In the Dyatlov Pass incident, nine ski hikers in the Ural Mountains abandoned their camp in the middle of the night, some clad only in their underwear despite sub-zero weather. Six died of hypothermia and three by unexplained injuries. The corpses showed no signs of struggle, but one had a fatal skull fracture, two had major chest fractures, and one was missing her tongue. Soviet investigators determined only that "a compelling unknown force" had caused the deaths, barring entry to the area for years.[74]
  • 1960: In the Nedelin disaster, over 100 Soviet rocket technicians and officials died when a switch was turned on unintentionally igniting the rocket. The dead included Red Army Marshal Nedelin who was seated in a deck chair just 40 meters away overseeing launch preparations. The events were filmed by automatic cameras.[75]
  • 1961: Valentin Bondarenko, a Soviet cosmonaut trainee, died from shock after suffering third-degree burns over much of his body due to a flash fire in the pure oxygen environment of a training simulator. This incident was not revealed outside of the Soviet Union until the 1980s.[77]
  • 1966: Worth Bingham, son of Barry Bingham, Sr., died when a surfboard, lying atop the back of his convertible, hit a parked car, swung around, and broke his neck.[79]
  • 1966: Skydiver Nick Piantanida died from the effects of uncontrolled decompression four months after an attempt to break the world record for the highest parachute jump. During his third attempt, his face mask came loose (or he possibly opened it by mistake), causing loss of air pressure and irreversible brain damage.[80] [81]
  • 1967: Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee, NASA astronauts, died when a flash fire began in their pure oxygen environment during a training exercise inside the unlaunched Apollo 1 spacecraft. The spacecraft's escape hatch could not be opened during the fire because it was designed to seal shut under pressure.[82]
  • 1967: Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov became the first person to die during a space mission after the parachute of his capsule failed to deploy following re-entry.[83]
  • 1971: Jerome Irving Rodale, an American pioneer of organic farming, died of a heart attack while being interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show. According to urban legend, when he appeared to fall asleep, Cavett quipped "Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?".[85] Cavett says this is incorrect; the initial response was fellow guest Pete Hamill saying in a low voice to Cavett, "This looks bad."[86] The show was never broadcast.
  • 1974: Christine Chubbuck, an American television news reporter, committed suicide during a live broadcast on July 15. At 9:38 am, 8 minutes into her talk show, on WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida, she drew out a revolver and shot herself in the head.[90]
  • 1975: BandÅ MitsugorÅ VIII, a Japanese kabuki actor, died of severe poisoning when he ate four fugu livers (also known as pufferfish). The liver is considered one of the most poisonous parts of the fish, but MitsugorÅ claimed to be immune to the poison. The fugu chef felt he could not refuse MitsugorÅ and lost his license as a result.[92]
  • 1978: Janet Parker, a British medical photographer, died of smallpox in 1978, ten months after the disease was eradicated in the wild, when a researcher at the laboratory Parker worked at accidentally released some virus into the air of the building. She is believed to be the last smallpox fatality in history.[95]
  • 1978: Kurt Gödel, the Austrian/American mathematician, died of starvation when his wife was hospitalized. Gödel suffered from extreme paranoia and refused to eat food prepared by anyone else. He was 65 pounds (approx. 30 kg) when he died. His death certificate reported that he died of "malnutrition and inanition caused by personality disturbance" in Princeton Hospital on January 14, 1978.[96]
  • 1979: Robert Williams, a worker at a Ford Motor Co. plant, was the first known human to be killed by a robot,[97] after the arm of a one-ton factory robot hit him in the head..[98]
  • 1979: John Bowen, a 20-year-old of Nashua, New Hampshire was attending a halftime show at a New York Jets football game at Shea Stadium on December 9, 1979. During an event which featured custom-made remote control flying machines, a 40-pound model plane shaped like a lawnmower accidentally dived into the stands, striking Bowen and another spectator and causing severe head injuries. While the other spectator survived, Bowen died in hospital four days later.[99][100]
  • 1981: David Allen Kirwan a 24-year-old, died after attempting to rescue a friend's dog from the 200âF (93âC) water in Celestine Pool, a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park on July 20, 1981. Kirwan suffered third-degree burns over 100% of his body and died the next morning at a Salt Lake City hospital. Kirwan is the only known case of someone dying after deliberately jumping into one of the park's hot springs.[102][103]
  • 1981: American photographer Carl McCunn paid a bush pilot to drop him at a remote lake near the Coleen River in Alaska in March to photograph wildlife, but failed to confirm arrangements for the pilot to pick him up again in August. Rather than starve, McCunn shot himself in the head. His body was found in February 1982.[104]
  • 1981: Jeff Dailey, a 19-year-old gamer, became the first known person to die while playing video games. After achieving a score of 16,660 in the arcade game Berzerk, he succumbed to a massive heart attack. A year later, an 18-year-old gamer died after achieving high scores in the same game.[106]
  • 1981: Kenji Urada, a Japanese factory worker was killed by a malfunctioning robot he was working on at a Kawasaki plant in Japan. The robot's arm pushed him into a grinding machine, killing him.[98]
  • 1981: Paul Gauci, a 41-year old Maltese man, died after welding a butterfly bomb to a metal pipe and using it as a mallet, thinking it was a harmless can.[107]
  • 1982: David Grundman was killed near Lake Pleasant, Arizona while shooting at cacti with his shotgun. After firing several shots at a 26 ft (8m) tall Saguaro Cactus from extremely close range, a 4 ft limb of the Cactus that was weakened by the gunfire detached and fell on him, crushing him.[109][110]
  • 1983: Four divers and a tender were killed on the Byford Dolphin semi-submersible, when a decompression chamber explosively decompressed from 9 atm to 1 atm in a fraction of a second. The diver nearest the chamber opening literally exploded just before his remains were ejected through a 24 in (60 cm) opening. The other divers' remains showed signs of boiled blood, unusually strong rigor mortis, large amounts of gas in the blood vessels, and scattered hemorrhages in the soft tissues.[111]
  • 1983: Sergei Chalibashvili, a professional diver, died after a diving accident during the 1983 Summer Universiade in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. When he attempted a three-and-a-half reverse somersault in the tuck position from the ten meter platform, he smashed his head on the platform and was knocked unconscious. He died after being in a coma for a week.[112]
  • 1983: American author Tennessee Williams died when he choked on an eyedrop bottle cap in his room at the Hotel Elysee in New York. He would routinely place the cap in his mouth, lean back, and place his eyedrops in each eye. Williams' lack of gag response may have been due to the effects of drugs and alcohol abuse, and it is highly likely that Williams was high when the cap ended up in his throat as drugs and alcohol were found in his room and inside his body. There is speculation that he committed suicide or was murdered (even his brother Walter Dakin alleged this), but nothing has been conclusively proven.[113]
  • 1983: Jimmy Lee Gray, a man executed in Mississippi's gas chamber, died bashing his head against a metal pole behind the chair that he was strapped into. The poisonous gas had failed to kill him but left him in agony and gasping for eight minutes. It was later determined that the executioner was drunk.[114]
  • 1984:Tommy Cooper, British slapstick comedian, died of a heart attack while performing at Her Majesty's Theatre in London, live on national television. The audience continued to laugh as he lay collapsed on the stage, thinking it was part of the act. Following the principle that the show must go on, his body was left on the stage, hastily curtained off, and while attempts were made to revive him the other actors continued the act on the small part of the set which remained.[citation needed]
  • 1984: Jon-Erik Hexum, an American television actor, died after he shot himself in the head with a prop gun during a break in filming, playing Russian Roulette using a revolver loaded with a single blank cartridge.[115]
  • 1986: Over 1,700 were killed after a limnic eruption from Lake Nyos in Cameroon, released approximately 100 million cubic meters of carbon dioxide that quickly descended the lake and killed oxygen dependent life within 15-mile (25 kilometer) radius, including three villages. The same phenomenon is also blamed on the deaths of 37 near Lake Monoun in 1984.[116]
  • 1987: Budd Dwyer, the State Treasurer of Pennsylvania, committed suicide during a televised press conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Facing a potential 55-year jail sentence for alleged involvement in a conspiracy, Dwyer shot himself in the mouth with a revolver.[117]
  • 1987: Franco Brun, a 22-year-old prisoner at Toronto East Detention Centre, in Toronto, Ontario, died after attempting to swallow and choking on a 6.35 cm. (2.5 inches) by 10 cm. (4 inches) by 1.27 centimetres (half an inch) Gideon's Bible. Brun reportedly had mental deficiencies and as such, the coroner did not label his death as suicide, believing that "the swallowing of the Bible to him was some form of symbolism or allegory as though he was trying to purge himself of the devil by consuming religion". He was only serving a 15-day sentence.[118]
  • 1991: Edward Juchniewicz, a 76-year-old man, was killed when the ambulance stretcher he was strapped to rolled down a grade and overturned. The ambulance attendants, while speaking to a doctor's staff, had left the stretcher unattended. Juchniewicz suffered a head injury and died a short time later.[120]
  • 1993: Actor Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, was shot and killed by Michael Massee using a prop gun while filming the movie The Crow. A cartridge with only a primer and a bullet was fired in the pistol before the fatal scene; this caused a squib load, in which the primer provided enough force to push the bullet out of the cartridge and into the barrel of the revolver, where it became stuck. The malfunction went unnoticed by the crew, and the same gun was used again later to shoot the death scene. His death was not instantly recognized by the crew or other actors; they believed he was still acting.[121]
  • 1993: Garry Hoy, a 38-year old lawyer and a senior partner at the Holden Day Wilson Law firm in Toronto, Canada, fell to his death on July 9, 1993, after he threw himself against a window on the 24th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre in an attempt to prove to a group of visiting law students that the glass was "unbreakable." His first attempt failed to damage the glass at all. On his second attempt the glass still didn't break, but popped out of the window frame, and he fell over 300 feet to his death.[122][123]
  • 1993: Michael A. Shingledecker Jr. was killed almost instantly when he and a friend were struck by a pickup truck while lying flat on the yellow dividing line of a two-lane highway in Polk, Pennsylvania. They were copying a daredevil stunt from the movie The Program. Marco Birkhimer died of a similar accident while performing the same stunt in Route 206 of Bordentown, New Jersey.[124]
  • 1994: Gloria Ramirez was admitted to Riverside General Hospital, in Riverside, California, for complications of advanced cervical cancer. Before she died, her caregivers claimed that Ramirez's body mysteriously emitted toxic fumes that made several emergency room workers very ill. She was dubbed the "toxic lady" by the media.[125]
  • 1995: A 39 year old man committed suicide in Canberra, Australia by shooting himself three times with a pump action shotgun. The first shot passed through his chest and went out the other side. He reloaded and shot away his throat and part of his jaw. Breathing through the wound in his throat, he again reloaded, held the gun against his chest with his hands and operated the trigger with his toes. This shot entered the thoracic cavity and demolished the heart, killing him.[126]
  • 1996: Sharon Lopatka, an Internet entrepreneur from Maryland, allegedly solicited a man via the Internet to torture and kill her for the purpose of sexual gratification. Her killer, Robert Fredrick Glass, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the homicide.[citation needed]
  • 1998: Tom and Eileen Lonergan were stranded while scuba diving with a group of divers off Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The group's boat accidentally abandoned them owing to an incorrect head count taken by the dive boat crew. Their bodies were never recovered. The incident inspired the film Open Water and an episode of 20/20.[129]
  • 1998: Every player on the Basanga soccer team at a game in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The field was struck by a fork bolt of lightning, hitting and killing the entire team instantly. Nobody on the opposing team was struck by the bolt.[130]
  • 1999: Owen Hart, a Canadian-born professional wrestler for WWF, died during a pay-per-view event when performing a stunt. It was planned to have Owen come down from the rafters of the Kemper Arena on a safety harness tied to a rope to make his ring entrance. The safety latch was released and Owen dropped 78 feet (24 m), bouncing chest-first off the top rope resulting in a severed aorta, which caused his lungs to fill with blood.[131]
  • 1999: Rod Hull, a British children's entertainer, died whilst attempting to adjust his television aerial to improve the picture of the Manchester United versus Inter Milan football match. He fell from the roof of his home in Winchelsea, near Rye, and through an adjoining greenhouse. He suffered a massive skull fracture and chest injuries.[132]

[edit] 21st century

  • 2000: Airline passenger Jonathan Burton stormed the cockpit door of a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City. The 19-year-old was knocked over and pinned by eight other passengers with such force that he died of asphyxiation.[133]
  • 2001: Bernd-Jürgen Brandes from Germany was voluntarily stabbed repeatedly and then partly eaten by Armin Meiwes (who was later called the Cannibal of Rotenburg). Brandes had answered an internet advertisement by Meiwes looking for someone for this purpose. Brandes explicitly stated in his will that he wished to be killed and eaten.[134] This inspired the Rammstein Song "Mein Teil" ("My (private) part").
  • 2001: Gregory Biggs, a homeless man in Fort Worth, Texas, was struck by a car being driven by Chante Jawan Mallard, who had been drinking and taking drugs that night. Biggs' torso became lodged in Mallard's windshield with severe but not immediately fatal injuries. Mallard drove home and left the car in her garage with Biggs still lodged in her car's windshield. She repeatedly visited Biggs and even apologized for hitting him. Biggs died of his injuries several hours later.[135] Chante Mallard was tried and convicted for murder in this case and received a 50-year prison sentence. The film Stuck, an episode of "CSI", and an episode of Drawn Together are loosely based on this unusual death.[136]
  • 2001: Michael Colombini, a 6-year-old from Croton-on-Hudson, New York, was struck and killed, at Westchester Regional Medical Center, by a 6.5-pound metal oxygen tank when it was pulled into the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine while he underwent a test. He began to experience breathing difficulties while in the MRI and when an anesthesiologist brought a portable oxygen canister into the magnetic field, it was pulled from his hands and struck the boy in the head.[137][138]
  • 2002: Kenneth Farr, a 37-year-old man from Penarth, Wales, was partially decapitated when an unsecured safety barrier in a supermarket carpark was blown through the windshield of his car by a sudden gust of wind.[140]
  • 2003: Brian Douglas Wells, a pizza delivery man in Erie, Pennsylvania, was killed by a time bomb that was fastened around his neck. He was apprehended by the police after robbing a bank, and claimed he had been forced to do it by three people who had put the bomb around his neck and would kill him if he refused. The bomb later exploded, killing him. In 2007, police alleged Wells was involved in the robbery plot along with two other conspirators.[141]
  • 2003: Dr. Hitoshi Christopher Nikaidoh, a surgeon, was decapitated as he stepped on to an elevator at Christus St. Joseph Hospital in Houston, Texas on August 16, 2003. According to a witness inside the elevator, the elevator doors closed as Nikaidoh entered, trapping his head inside the elevator with the remainder of his body still outside. His body was later found at the bottom of the elevator shaft while the upper portion of his head, severed just above the lower jaw, was found in the elevator. A subsequent investigation revealed that improper electrical wiring installed by a maintenance company several days earlier had effectively bypassed all of the elevator's safeguards, and thus enabling it to move under any circumstances.[142][143][144][145]
  • 2003: Timothy Treadwell, an American environmentalist who had lived in the wilderness among bears for thirteen summers in a remote region in Alaska, and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed and partially consumed by a bear. An audio recording of their deaths was captured on a video camera which had been turned on at the beginning of the incident. Werner Herzog's documentary film, Grizzly Man, discusses Treadwell and his death.[146]
  • 2004: Phillip Quinn, a 24-year-old from Kent, Washington was killed during an attempt to heat up a lava lamp bulb on his kitchen stove while observing it from a few feet away. The heat built up pressure in the bulb until it exploded, spraying shards of glass. One pierced his heart, killing him.[147] The circumstances of his death were later repeated and confirmed in a 2006 episode of the popular science television series MythBusters.[148]
  • 2004: Ronald McClagish died after being trapped inside a cupboard for a week. A wardrobe in the bedroom outside had fallen over, trapping him inside. In an effort to free himself, McClagish accidentally wrenched a water pipe from the wall and the water gushing from the pipe eventually caused his death from bronchitis. His body was not discovered until two weeks later.[149]
  • 2004: An unidentified Taiwanese woman died of alcohol intoxication after immersion for 12 hours in a bathtub filled with 40% ethanol. Her blood alcohol content was 1.35%. It was believed that she immersed herself as a response to the ongoing SARS epidemic. [150]
  • 2005: Lee Seung Seop, a 28-year-old South Korean, collapsed of fatigue and died after playing the videogame StarCraft online for almost 50 consecutive hours in an Internet cafe.[152]
  • 2006: Sean Caselli, a 22-year-old New Milford, Connecticut man, was struck with pieces of shrapnel in the neck and chest after an empty keg that had been thrown into a fire exploded at a party. [153]
  • 2006: Erika Tomanu, a seven-year-old girl in Saitama, Japan, died when she was sucked 10 metres down the intake pipe of a current pool at a water park. The grille that was meant to cover the inlet came off, yet lifeguards at the pool at the time deemed it safe after issuing a verbal warning to swimmers. It took rescuers more than six hours to remove Tomanu by digging through concrete to access the pipe.[154]
  • 2007: Humberto Hernandez, a 24-year-old Oakland, California resident, was killed from being struck in the face by an airborne fire hydrant while walking on a sidewalk; a passing car blew a tire and swerved onto the sidewalk, striking the fire hydrant. The force of the water pressure shot the 200-pound hydrant at Hernandez with enough force to kill him.[158][159][160]
  • 2007: Kevin Whitrick, a 42-year-old man, committed suicide by hanging himself live on a webcam during an Internet chat session.[161]
  • 2007: Carol Anne Gotbaum died in police custody at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Police claim she asphyxiated herself with the chain that connected her handcuffs to the bench she had been chained to.[163]
  • 2008: Abigail Taylor, age 6, died nine months after several of her internal organs were partially sucked out of her lower body while she sat on an excessively powerful swimming pool drain. After several months, surgeons replaced her intestines and pancreas with donor organs. Unfortunately, she later succumbed to a rare transplant-related cancer.[164]
  • 2008: Gerald Mellin, a U.K. businessman, committed suicide by tying one end of a rope around his neck and the other to a tree. He then went into his Aston Martin DB7 and drove down a main road in Swansea until the rope decapitated him. He supposedly did this as an act of revenge against his ex-wife for leaving him.[165]
  • 2008: James Mason, 73, of Chardon, Ohio, died of heart failure after his wife exercised him to death in a public swimming pool. Christine Newton-John, 41, was seen on video tape pulling Mason around the pool and preventing him from getting out of the water 43 times.[167]
  • 2008: Nordin Montong, 32, a janitor at the Singapore Zoo committed suicide by entering an enclosure containing white tigers and provoking them with brooms and a pail. Three of the tigers pounced on him, dragging him by the neck to the back of their enclosure. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.[169]
  • 2009: Jonathan Campos, a sailor charged with murder, killed himself in his Camp Pendleton, San Diego, California, cell by stuffing toilet paper in his mouth until he asphyxiated.[170]
  • 2009: Diana Durre, of Chambers, Nebraska, died after a 75-foot (23 m) tall Taco Bell sign fell on top of the truck cab she was in. Strong winds caused the pole to break at a welded joint about 15 feet (4.5 m) above the ground.[171]
  • 2009: Sergey Tuganov, a 28-year-old Russian, bet two women that he could continuously have sex with them both for twelve hours. Several minutes after winning the $4,300 bet, he suffered a heart attack and died, apparently because of having ingested an entire bottle of Viagra just after accepting the bet.[172]
  • 2009: Vladimir Likhonos, a Ukrainian student, died after accidentally dipping a piece of homemade chewing gum into explosives he was using on another project. He mistook the jar of explosive for citric acid, which was also on his desk. The gum exploded, blowing off his jaw and most of the lower part of his face.[175]
  • 2009: Kim Sa-rang, a 3-month-old Korean child, died from malnutrition after both her parents spent hours each day in an internet cafe raising a virtual child on an online game, Prius Online.[176]
  • 2009: Jeffrey Burton, a window cleaner from E.Sussex, England, committed suicide by stabbing himself in the groin with a jumbo souvenir pencil. When police broke into his house they found Mr Burton lying on his back, wearing only his underpants. The room was splattered with blood and music was still playing on his stereo. The giant blood-covered pencil was beside him. The reason behind the suicide was apparently unknown, but Mr Burtonâs sister Patricia Goodell told the subsequent hearing the pencil had sentimental value to her brother as it once belonged to their late mother.[177]
  • 2010: Jenny Mitchell, a 19-year-old English hairdresser, was killed when her car exploded after fumes, caused by chemicals mixing with hydrogen peroxide leaking from a bottle of hair bleach, ignited as she lit a cigarette.[178]
  • 2010: Joaquin Medina, a man from Chico, California, died while shooting at squirrels in a tree with a shotgun. One shot severed a large tree branch, which fell, killing him.[179]
  • 2010: Vladimir Ladyzhensky, a competitor from Russia, died in The World Sauna Championships in Finland, after he had spent 6 minutes in a sauna that had been heated up to 110C (230F). The other finalist, a 5-time champion Timo Kaukonen, was taken to the hospital after suffering from serious burns on his body.[180]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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