Thursday, October 22, 2009

Craziest Deaths in History

EmpedoclesMaybe this is a little morbid but honestly? It's really kind of fascinating. And while I'm doing a month of Halloween lists it fits right in with the general theme.

Are they all legit? As far as I can tell they're as real as imagination and urban legend meeting with the 6 o'clock news can be real but you never know . . . and if you notice, you get more entries as the years roll by, I'm not sure if that means as a race we're getting stupider or just unluckier?

I hereby present the oddest and strangest deaths in history . . .

1. 430 B.C. - Empedocles
According to the legends this Greek philosopher jumped into Mt. Etna, an active volcano, to let people think he'd been taken up by the gods. Right. I have to think this is probably just a legend because really, there are so many better ways to make people think you've been carried off . . . like pretending you were caught up in a hot air balloon when you were really hiding in the garage. Just hypothetically speaking of course.

Sigurd the Mighty, Sigurd Eysteinsson2. 892 A.D. - Sigurd the Mighty
Sigurd Eysteinsson of Orkney killed one of his enemies then strapped the guy's head to his leg (it was all the rage with the Viking raiders that year). However, one of the teeth jabbed him as he rode along on his horse, infecting his leg and eventually killing him.

Which is why the fashion of strapping vanquished foes' head to one's leg went out of fashion the next year.

3. 1219 - Inalchuk
This 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. Ew. But boy isn't that a vivid picture? Ew again. As I said, it's a bit of a legend so I don't know that it really happened, sometimes all it takes is a really fierce PR campaign where some good and bloody myths about public executions get circulated and other countries start to steer clear of your borders. This could have been such a move.

Maybe Obama ought to consider such a tactic. Forget nuclear warheads, just spread rumors that Noreiga was drowned in a giant-sized bowl of molé and suddenly Chavez is minding his Ps and Qs.

4. 1794 - John Kendrick
This American sea captain and explorer was killed in the Hawaiian Islands when a British ship accidentally used a loaded cannon to fire a salute to Kendrick's vessel.

They weren't supposed to have done that. I'm guessing they felt really, really stupid once they did--how's that going too look in the log book? "Met The Lady Washington. Fired happy salute. Accidentally took out captain."

Jim Creighton5. 1862 Jim Creighton
The professional ballplayer who threw the first fastball, completed the first recorded triple play and is generally considered to be the game's first star player but he died when he swung a bat too hard and ruptured his bladder. What a way to go. I didn't know rupturing a bladder was even possible.

6. 1871 - Clement Vallandigham
This U.S. Congressman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in court while representing the defendant in a murder case. Demonstrating how the murder victim could have inadvertently shot himself he fired the gun, thinking it was unloaded, and it discharged and mortally wounded him.

His demonstration was so successful the defendant was acquitted. Tough way to win a case.

 Franz Reichelt7. 1912 - Franz Reichelt
Known as "The Flying Tailor," (which really should be amended) he was the inventor of the "coat parachute" which was supposed to float its wearer gently to the ground.

To demonstrate, he jumped 60 meters from the first deck of the Eiffel Tower. The uh . . . parachute . . . didn't work. The jump was recorded by the cameras of the gathered press which must have been truly horrifying.

I can't help but think of all the times that as a kid I jumped off of things with my open umbrella expecting it to catch me like Mary Poppins. Obviously we are kindred spirits.

8. 1923 - George Herbert
The Fifth Earl of Carnarvon became the first person to die from King Tut's Curse after a mosquito bit his face and the bite became infected with erysipelas which he then cut while shaving, leading to blood poisoning and eventually pneumonia. Holy highly improbable! That's a vicious chain of events that could never possibly be duplicated.

You open a tomb, then get bit by a crazy rabid mosquito which gives you some rare disease and you accidntally open the wound while shaving which leads to poisoning and death. You can't write stuff like that, it has to be true.

George Herbert, Earl of Carnarvon9. 1930 - William Kogut
This death-row prisoner at San Quentin decided to commit suicide using what he had on hand--and let me say here you must admire his determination and resourcefulness. If only he'd used his super powers for good . . .

He tore up several packs of playing cards, saving pieces with red ink (at the time, the ink in red playing cards contained nitrocellulose, which is flammable when wet) and stuffed them into a pipe. He plugged the end with a broom handle then poured water into the other end to soak the card pieces. Then he put the pipe on a heater next to his bed and placed the open end firmly against his head. The heat turned the water to steam and the resulting pressure burst the pipe, shooting out bits of playing cards with enough force to kill him. Now that's determination.

It sounds like something from CSI.

10. 1947 - The Collyer brothers
Homer and Langley Collyer were compulsive hoarders who were found dead in their home in New York. The younger brother, Langley, died from a booby trap he'd set up, causing an avalanche of stuff to crush him to death. His blind brother, Homer, who had depended on Langley for care, died of starvation a few days later. Authorities found their bodies when they tried to remove the debris. Wow.

Langely Collyer11. 1959 - the Dyatlov Pass incident
Nine skiing hikers in the Ural Mountains abandoned their camp in the middle of the night, some wearing only their underwear despite freezing temperatures. Six died of hypothermia and three by unexplained injuries. Though the bodies showed no signs of struggle, one victim had a fatal skull fracture, two had major chest fractures, and one was missing her tongue. Their clothing also contained high levels of radiation.

Soviet investigators ruled that "a compelling unknown force" had caused the deaths, barring entry to the area for years thereafter. D'uh. Not funny, just spooky. As in X-files spooky. Maybe they were all KGB agents or something.

12. 1978 - Janet Parker
The last person to have died of smallpox, ten months after it was officially eradicated. A coworker at the lab where she worked accidentally released some of the home-grown virus into the air of the lab and she caught it. Horrible, isn't it? What are the odds?

13. 1979 - Robert Williams
This Ford Motor Co.worker was the first known human to be killed by a robot after the arm of a one-ton factory robot hit him in the head. You know you're thinking of 2001: a Space Odyssey. They're organizing I tell you.

Celestine Pool14. 1981 - David Allen Kirwan
This is really sad, but it's so unusual . . . this 24 year-old male (and right there that's going to set up the story) apparently jumped into the Celestine Pool at Yellowstone National Park when his friend's dog fell into the water.

He jumped in head first to save the dog and the 200-degree temperature of the water overcame him, killing both the dog and Mr. Kirwan. The only time someone has jumped in on purpose though a few have fallen in accidentally.

You feel so sorry for the guy when he was trying to be so heroic. Stupid, but heroic.

15. 1981 - Jeff Dailey
This 19 year-old male (Again with the young males. How many accidents involve males under the age of 25?) scored 16,660 in Berzerk (as in the arcade game) then promptly had a heart attack and died.

Ironically enough a year later, an 18-year-old gamer died after high scores in the same game. And that, my friends, is only one of the many reasons I don't have video games.

16. 1982 - James Joseph Suchochi
I don't know how old this guy was but my money is on the door that says "under 25." After firing several shots at an eight-foot tall saguaro cactus with his shotgun at extremely close range, a four-foot limb detached and fell on him with enough force to cause lethal injuries.

I swear I saw that same thing happen to Wile E. Coyote.

Tennessee Williams17. 1983 - Tennessee Williams
Surely you remember the famous playwright? Well he died from an eye drops bottle cap. No information on which brand. Apparently he put the cap in his mouth while he tilted his head back to administer the drops . . . and it was gone. He choked to death, possibly from the contents of other bottles in the room slowing his gag reflex, if you know what I mean. Aye carumba!

What a way to go. You get to the other side and everyone asks, "So how did you die?" and you have to say, "Uh, I choked on the cap to my eye drops." Not cool.

18. 1993 - Garry Hoy
This 38-year old lawyer fell to his death after he threw himself against a window on the 24th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre in an attempt to prove to some visiting law students that the glass was unbreakable. His first try did nothing so he pushed again and the glass didn't break but it popped out of the frame and he fell.

Great. I guess he made his point. Second lawyer on the list who died trying to prove he was right. That says something.

19. 2007 - Jennifer Strange
One of only three women to make this list, she died while trying to win a Nintendo Wii game on a radio station's "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest, which involved drinking large quantities of water without urinating.

I'm kidding, right? Nope. I'm totally serious. They called it death by "water intoxication" or "water poisoning." Who knew? I thought males had cornered the market on this kind of thing. Again with the video games.

20. 2009 - Diana Durre
Died after a 75-foot high Taco Bell sign fell on top of the truck she was in. Diana was meeting a Wyoming couple to sell them some dogs and official reports said they had agreed to meet “right underneath the big Taco Bell sign.” Now I know that's really, really sad and I'm obviously an ogre but that line jerked a chuckle from me and I'm ashamed.

I hope it was quick and painless because that's just horrible. Who says there's no such thing as bad PR? Poor woman.

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Jolanthe said...

Some of those are funny and I know I shouldn't laugh...but they are! And you of course make them even better!

Michemily said...

What a fascinating post. Where do you find all this stuff?

Adventures In Babywearing said...

How awful! But yes, fascinating!


Flea said...

These are hilarious! An exploding bladder? Really?

PunditMom said...

My admiration for you only grows more with this post!

Annette Lyon said...

LOVE this post. Maybe I'm morbid or something, but this kind of thing just fascinates me. (If only I can get my son to 26 . . .)

Tammy said...

Sad, but sometimes funny list! I have only heard of your bladder rupturing in things like car accidents!

I laughed about your balloon comment! LOL

I remember when Jennifer Strange died--my dh listens to a California radio station (online) and they were talking about it after it happened. Apparently, people called in the station to warn them about water poisoning, but they didn't listen, and went on with the contest.

Kim said...

I can't believe I never heard the story about Tennessee Williams' death, especially since I've studied his plays— you'd think I'd know something like that. Well, I know now!

Heart2Heart said...

Just when you think you have heard it all....Nope! You find cool and interesting stuff like this.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

K T Cat said...

Macabre, but funny!

Roo said...

There was an episode of ER where someone died of "water poisoning." The kid had done drugs or something and had to do a urine test the next day so he was trying to drink enough water to wash it out his system.

The one about the Taco Bell was in North Platte, Nebraska and I actually heard about that from my brother-in-law right after it happened. A friend of his worked the ER where the woman was taken. FREAK accident. It is said to have been caused by high winds, but the wind speeds were only as high as 40 mph and they signs are supposed to withstand winds up to 110 mph.

Chrissy Johnson said...

Clement Vallandigham was from my home state of Ohio...I lived in the little town where he shot himself, at the Golden Lamb Inn. We're so very proud.

Unplanned Cooking said...

Ha ha, guess it shows you should live everyday as your last!

Bobbie in AK said...

Darwin Awards, anybody?

Deb said...

Re: Clement Vallandigham, he actually shot himself and died at The Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon. But he was demonstrating that the victim could have shot himself. But that is not what he's famous for it was just weird that he survived so much to die practicing law.

a happy heart blog. said...

Oh my, I've learned one thing, I really need to urinate more. There seemed to be an abundance of bladder related deaths. seriously, great post!

Angela Fehr said...

That Dyatlov Pass thing? Freaking me out.
Great post!

Lori said...

You know what's sad? The water intoxication deaths that year! The boy from Chico State (where I was attending college at the time) died from a frat hazing where he was forced to drink several gallons of water.

Then just after that, only 85 miles away the "Wee for Wii" deal happens (in my birthplace). So much information was released and gone over after the first death that the second was extremely negligent.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Not morbid at all. We are all going to do it someday. After my father died I decided that getting used to the notion was a good idea and I find your post intriguing!

Sonja said...

Wow. I'm loving your lists. This was fascinating, like exotic road kill.

Robin in New Jersey said...

This was fun! Thanks for taking the time to put it all together.

SmallTownRunner said...

Hilarious! In a sad, morbid sort of way... Great post.

Kara said...

Oh my gosh - like the other commenters said - I feel horrible laughing at these but I couldn't help it (though I actually think it was your witty remarks within the stories that had me chuckling the most). Such interesting and freaky stories...

Lisa said...

Jennifer Strange's death was talked about just this morning on the news. I think they said they had a ruling because the family sued the radio station. Very sad.