List of unusual deaths

This is a list of unusual deaths. This list includes unique or extremely rare circumstances of death recorded throughout history, noted as being unusual by multiple sources. Some of the deaths are mythological or are considered to be unsubstantiated by contemporary researchers.

Some other articles also cover unusual deaths, including List of entertainers who died during a performance, List of inventors killed by their own inventions, List of association footballers who died while playing, List of professional cyclists who died during a race and the List of political self-immolations.


Middle Ages


  • 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 his ambition to be king), by Hungarian landed nobility in Transylvania. While Dózsa was still alive, his partially roasted body was force-fed to six of his fellow rebels, who had been starved for a week beforehand.[30]
  • 1518: In the Dancing Plague of 1518 a woman (and eventually a league of 400 people) uncontrollably danced for a month causing dozens of participants to die of stroke and exhaustion. The reason for this occurrence is still unclear.[31]
  • 1601: Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer, according to legend, died of complications resulting from a strained bladder at a banquet. As it was considered extremely bad etiquette to leave the table before the meal was finished, 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.[32]
  • 1649: Sir Arthur Aston, Royalist commander of the garrison during the Siege of Drogheda, was beaten to death with his own wooden leg, which the Parliamentarian soldiers thought concealed golden coins.[33]
  • 1660: Thomas Urquhart, Scottish aristocrat, polymath and first translator of Rabelais into English, is said to have died laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken the throne.[34][35]
  • 1667: 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.[36][37][38]
  • 1687: Jean-Baptiste Lully, the French composer, died of a gangrenous abscess after 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.[39]

18th century

  • 1753: Professor Georg Wilhelm Richmann, of Saint Petersburg, Russia, became the first recorded person to be killed while performing electrical experiments when he was struck and killed by a globe of ball lightning that hit him on his head.[40]
  • 1755: Henry Hall died from injuries he sustained after molten lead fell into his throat while he was looking up at a burning lighthouse.[41]
  • 1762: Crown Prince Sado, then heir to King Yeongjo of Joseon, was ordered to be sealed alive in a rice chest after his father decided he was unfit to succeed him.[42]
  • 1771: Adolf Frederick, King of Sweden, died of digestion problems on 12 February 1771 after having consumed a meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, topped off with 14 servings of his favourite dessert: hetvägg served in a bowl of hot milk.[43] He is thus remembered by Swedish schoolchildren as "the king who ate himself to death."[44]
  • 1783: James Otis, Jr., the American revolutionary, "often mentioned to friends and relatives that ... he hoped his death would come from a bolt of lightning." His hope was fulfilled on 23 May 1783 when lightning struck the chimney of a friend's house in whose doorway he was standing.[45]
  • 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.[46]

19th century

  • 1814: London Beer Flood, seven people were killed (some drowned, some died from injuries, and one succumbed to alcohol poisoning) when 323,000 imperial gallons (388,000 US gal; 1,468,000 L) of beer in the Meux and Company Brewery burst out of its vats and gushed into the streets.[47]
  • 1816: Gouverneur Morris, an American statesman, died after sticking a piece of whale bone through his urinary tract to relieve a blockage.[48][49]
  • 1830: William Huskisson, statesman and financier, was crushed to death by a locomotive (Stephenson's Rocket), at the public opening of the world's first mechanically powered passenger railway.[50]
  • 1834: David Douglas, Scottish botanist, fell into a pit trap accompanied by a bull. He was gored and possibly crushed.[51]
  • 1862: Jim Creighton, a very early baseball player, died when he swung a bat too hard and injured himself, possibly by rupturing his bladder.[52]
  • 1863: Emma Livry, a famous prima ballerina, died from burns she received when her costume caught fire from the footlights at a rehearsal. She lingered in agony for eight months.[53]
  • 1869: Mary Ward, a passenger in a steam car built by her young cousins, including the future steam turbine inventor, Charles Algernon Parsons, fell from the car and was crushed under its wheels, making her the first person to die in a road accident involving a powered vehicle.[55]
  • 1870: Alain de Monéys, French aristocrat, was cooked and eaten alive by the villagers of Hautefaye, Dordogne, during a reported case of mass hysteria.[56]
  • 1871: Clement Vallandigham, a lawyer and Ohio politician, was demonstrating how a victim may possibly have shot himself while drawing a weapon from a kneeling position when he shot himself in the process. Although the defendant, Thomas McGehan, was ultimately cleared, Vallandigham died from his wound.[57]
  • 1877: David Lunt, an early resident of Deadwood, South Dakota, was accidentally shot in the forehead during a Saloon fight between a man named Tom Smith and Town Marshal Con Stapleton, who was trying to disarm him. Even though the bullet passed through Lunt's brain and left entry and exit wounds in his head, he remained conscious the whole time and suffered no pain. Lunt then resumed his life as usual until he suddenly felt a terrible headache and died 67 days after the incident. An autopsy found that Lunt had died due to the shot, but could not determine a reason for why he survived for such a long time.[58][59]
  • 1884: Allan Pinkerton, detective, spy, and founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, died allegedly when he contracted gangrene after slipping and biting his tongue; however, conflicting reports indicate that he died of a stroke instead.[60]

20th century


  • 1916: Grigori Rasputin, Russian mystic, was reportedly poisoned, shot in the head, shot three more times, bludgeoned, and then thrown into a frozen river after being castrated. When his body washed ashore, an autopsy showed the cause of death to be hypothermia; however, some now doubt 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.[61]
  • 1918: Gustav Kobbé, writer and musicologist, was killed when the sailboat he was on was struck by a landing seaplane off Long Island, New York.[62]
  • 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.[63][64]


  • 1920: 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. Chapman collapsed at the plate, and died about 12 hours later. He remains the only baseball player killed by a pitched ball.[65]
  • 1920: Dan Andersson, a Swedish author, died of cyanide poisoning while staying at Hotel Hellman in Stockholm. The hotel staff had failed to clear the room after using hydrogen cyanide against bed bugs.[66]
  • 1920: 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.[67] The diseased animals' bites caused sepsis and Alexander died three weeks later.
  • 1923: Frank Hayes, a jockey at Belmont Park, New York, died of a heart attack during his first race. His mount finished first with his body still attached to the saddle, and he was only discovered to be dead when the horse's owner went to congratulate him.[68]
  • 1923: George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, died allegedly because of the so-called King Tut's Curse after a mosquito bite on his face, which he cut while shaving, became seriously infected with erysipelas, leading to blood poisoning and eventually pneumonia.[69][70]
  • 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.[71]
  • 1925: Zishe (Siegmund) Breitbart, a circus strongman and Jewish folklore hero, died after demonstrating he could drive 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.[72]
  • 1926: Phillip McClean, 16, from Queensland, Australia became the only person documented to have been killed by a cassowary. After encountering the bird on their family property near Mossman in April,[73] McClean and his brother decided to kill it with clubs. When McClean struck the bird it knocked him down, then kicked him in the neck, opening a 1.25 cm (0.5 in) long cut in one of his main blood vessels. Although the boy managed to get back on his feet and run away, he collapsed a short while later and died from the hemorrhage.[74]
  • 1926: Harry Houdini, the famous American escape artist, was punched in the stomach by an amateur boxer. Although this punch had been done with Houdini's permission, complications from this injury may have caused him to die days later, on 31 October 1926. It was later determined that Houdini died of a ruptured appendix,[75] though it is contested as to whether or not the punches actually caused the appendicitis.[76]
  • 1927: Isadora Duncan, dancer, died of a broken neck when her long scarf caught on the wheel of a car in which she was a passenger.[77]
  • 1928: Alexander Bogdanov, a Russian physician, died following one of his experiments, in which the blood of L. I. Koldomasov, a student suffering from malaria and tuberculosis, was given to him in a transfusion.[78]


  • 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. At the time, the red ink in playing cards contained flammable nitrocellulose, which when wet can create an explosive mixture. Kogut used the heater in his cell to activate the bomb.[79][80]
  • 1932: Eben Byers, an American industrialist and socialite, died of radiation poisoning after having consumed large quantities of Radithor, a popular patent medicine containing radium and thorium.[81]
  • 1933: Michael Malloy, a homeless man, was murdered by five men in a plot to collect on life insurance policies they had purchased. After surviving multiple poisonings, intentional exposure, and being struck by a car, Malloy succumbed to gassing.[82]
  • 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.[83]
  • 1939: Finnish actress Sirkka Sari died when she fell down a chimney into a heating boiler. She had mistaken the chimney for a balcony.[84][85]


  • 1940: Marcus Garvey died due to two strokes after reading a negative premature obituary of himself.[86]
  • 1941: Sherwood Anderson, writer, died of peritonitis after swallowing a toothpick at a party.[87]
  • 1942: 32 men died as a result of a chain of events that started when the British cruiser HMS Trinidad accidentally torpedoed itself.[88]
  • 1944: 74 men died when the US Submarine Tang (SS-306) accidentally torpedoed itself during a combat patrol off the coast of Taiwan.[89]
  • 1944: Inventor and chemist Thomas Midgley, Jr. accidentally strangled himself with the cord of a pulley-operated mechanical bed of his own design.[90]
  • 1945: Scientist Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. accidentally dropped a brick of tungsten carbide onto a sphere of plutonium (known as the Demon core) while working on the Manhattan Project. This caused the plutonium to come to criticality; Daghlian died of radiation poisoning, becoming the first person to die in a criticality accident.[91]
  • 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. The core went critical after a screwdriver he was using to separate the halves of the spherical beryllium reflector slipped.[92]
  • 1947: The Collyer Brothers, extreme cases of compulsive hoarders, were found dead in their home in New York. The younger brother, Langley, was crushed to death when he accidentally triggered one of his own booby traps that had consisted of a large pile of objects, books, and newspapers. His blind and paralyzed brother Homer, who had depended on Langley for care, died of starvation some days later.[93]


  • 1955: Margo Jones, theater director, was killed by exposure to carbon tetrachloride fumes from her newly cleaned carpet.[94]
  • 1958: Gareth Jones, actor, collapsed and died between scenes of a live television play, Underground, at the studios of Associated British Corporation in Manchester. Director Ted Kotcheff continued the play to its conclusion, improvising around Jones' absence.[95][96]
  • 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. During the hikers' memorials, several witnesses reported that the bodies had an "orangish tint" to them.[97]


  • 1960: In the Nedelin catastrophe, more than 100 Soviet rocket technicians and officials died when a switch was accidentally turned on, causing the second stage engines of a rocket to ignite, directly above the fully fueled first stage. The casualties included Red Army Marshal Nedelin, who was sitting just 40 meters (130 ft) away overseeing launch preparations.[98]
  • 1960: Inejiro Asanuma, 61, the head of the Japanese Socialist Party, was stabbed to death with a wakizashi sword by extreme rightist Otoya Yamaguchi during a televised political rally.[99]
  • 1960: Alan Stacey, Formula One race driver, died in a crash during the Belgian Grand Prix when a bird flew into his face, causing him to lose control.[100]
  • 1961: U.S. Army Specialists John A. Byrnes and Richard Leroy McKinley and Navy Electrician's Mate Richard C. Legg were killed by a water hammer explosion during maintenance on the SL-1 nuclear reactor in Idaho.[101][102][103][104]
  • 1961: Valentin Bondarenko, a Soviet cosmonaut trainee, died after suffering third-degree burns from a flash fire in the pure oxygen environment of a training simulator.[105]
  • 1963: Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, sat down in the middle of a busy intersection in Saigon, covered himself in gasoline, and lit himself on fire, burning himself to death.[106]
  • 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.[107]
  • 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.[108][109]
  • 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 Apollo 1 spacecraft. The spacecraft's escape hatch could not be opened because it was designed to seal shut under pressure.[110]
  • 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.[111]
  • 1969: Jan Palach, a Czech student, committed suicide by self-immolation, in Wenceslas Square, Prague, as a political protest against the "demoralization" of Czechoslovakian citizens caused by the occupation by the Soviet Union. Palach was the first of a group of students to set himself on fire.


  • 1971: Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev, Soviet cosmonauts, died when their Soyuz-11 spacecraft depressurized during preparations for reentry. These are the only human deaths outside the Earth's atmosphere.[112]
  • 1974: Basil Brown, a 48-year-old health food advocate from Croydon, drank himself to death with carrot juice.[113][114]
  • 1974: Christine Chubbuck, an American television news reporter, committed suicide during a live broadcast on 15 July. Eight minutes into her talk show on WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida, she shot herself in the head with a revolver.[115]
  • 1974: Deborah Gail Stone, 18, an employee at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, was crushed to death between a moving wall and a stationary wall inside the revolving America Sings attraction.[116]
  • 1975: Bandō Mitsugorō VIII, a Japanese kabuki actor, died of severe poisoning when he ate four fugu (puffer-fish) livers. Mitsugorō claimed to be immune to the poison and the fugu chef felt he could not refuse him.[117]
  • 1976: Keith Relf, former singer for British rhythm and blues band The Yardbirds, died while practicing his electric guitar. He was electrocuted by an improperly grounded amplifier.[118]
  • 1977: Tom Pryce, a Formula One driver at the 1977 South African Grand Prix, was killed when he was struck in the face by a track marshal's fire extinguisher. The marshal, Frederik Jansen van Vuuren, was running across the track to attend to Pryce's team-mate's burning car when he was struck and killed by Pryce's car. Van Vuuren himself was literally torn in half as the car ploughed into him at a speed exceeding 270 km/h (170 mph).[119]
  • 1978: Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was assassinated in London with a specially modified umbrella that fired a metal pellet with a small cavity full of ricin into his calf.[120]
  • 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 where Parker worked accidentally released some virus into the air of the building. Parker is the last known smallpox fatality.[121]
  • 1978: Kurt Gödel, the Austrian/American logician and mathematician, died of starvation when his wife was hospitalized. Gödel suffered from extreme paranoia and refused to eat food prepared by anyone else.[122]
  • 1979: Robert Williams, a worker at a Ford Motor Co. plant, was the first known human to be killed by a robot,[123] after the arm of a one-ton factory robot hit him in the head.[124]
  • 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 9 December 1979. During an event featuring 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, causing severe head injuries. Bowen died in the hospital four days later.[125][126]
  • 1979: Nitaro Ito, a candidate for Japan's House of Representatives, died in an attempt to gain sympathy during his election campaign. Having persuaded one of his employees to punch him in the face, Ito then stabbed himself in the leg. He hit an artery causing him to bleed to death before any aid could be given.[45]


  • 1981: David Allen Kirwan, a 24-year-old, died from third-degree burns after attempting to rescue a friend's dog from the 200 °F (93 °C) water in Celestine Pool, a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park on 20 July 1981.[127][128]
  • 1981: Boris Sagal, a film director, died while shooting the TV miniseries World War III when he walked into the tail rotor blade of a helicopter and was decapitated.[129]
  • 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.[130]
  • 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.[131]
  • 1982: Actor Vic Morrow and child-actor Myca Dinh Le (age 7) were decapitated, and child-actress Renee Shin-Yi Chen (age 6) was crushed, by a helicopter blade during filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie.[132]
  • 1982: David Grundman was killed near Lake Pleasant, Arizona while shooting at cacti with his shotgun. After he fired several shots at a 26 ft (8 m) tall Saguaro Cactus from extremely close range, a 4 ft (1.2 m) limb of the cactus detached and fell on him, crushing him.[133][134]
  • 1982: Navy Lieutenant George M. Prior, 30, died in Arlington, Virginia from a severe allergic reaction to Daconil, a fungicide used on a golf course he attended. He had unwittingly ingested the substance through his habit of carrying the tee in his mouth when playing.[135]
  • 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 was torn apart before his remains were ejected through a 24 inch (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.[136]
  • 1983: Sergei Chalibashvili, a professional diver, died as a result of a diving accident during the 1983 Summer Universiade in Edmonton, Alberta. When he attempted a three-and-a-half reverse somersault in the tuck position from the ten meter platform, he struck his head on the platform and was knocked unconscious. He died after being in a coma for a week.[137]
  • 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.[138]
  • 1983: Jimmy Lee Gray, during his execution in a Mississippi gas chamber, died bashing his head against a metal pole behind the chair he was strapped into. The poisonous gas had failed to kill him but left him in agony and gasping for eight minutes.[139]
  • 1983: Dick Wertheim was an American tennis linesman who died from blunt cranial trauma at a match at the 1983 US Open. Stefan Edberg sent an errant serve directly into his groin, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement.[140]
  • 1984: Tommy Cooper, British comedian, died of a heart attack while performing during a live TV broadcast at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. Initially the audience, thinking it was part of the act, continued to laugh as he lay collapsed on the stage. He was then pulled from sight as attempts were made to revive him off stage.[141]
  • 1984: Jon-Erik Hexum, an American television actor, died after he shot himself in the head with a prop gun loaded with a single blank cartridge. Hexum was playing Russian Roulette during a break in filming.[142]
  • 1986: More than 1,700 were killed after a limnic eruption from Lake Nyos in Cameroon released approximately 100,000,000 cubic metres (3,500,000,000 cubic feet) of carbon dioxide that quickly descended on the lake and killed oxygen-dependent life within a 25-kilometre (15-mile) radius, including three villages. The same phenomenon is also blamed for the deaths of 37 near Lake Monoun in 1984.[143]
  • 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 head with a .357 Magnum revolver.[144]


  • 1990: Bo Díaz, a 37-year-old former baseball player, was killed at his home in Caracas on 23 September. A satellite dish that he was adjusting on the roof of his home fell on him and crushed his neck and head against the base of the dish.[145]
  • 1991: Edward Juchniewicz, a 76-year-old man from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, was killed when the unattended ambulance stretcher he was strapped to rolled down a grade and overturned.[146][147]
  • 1993: Actor Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, was shot and killed by a prop gun during the making of the movie The Crow. The accident happened after a mistake in prop handling procedures: In a prior scene a revolver was fired using a cartridge with only a primer and a bullet, but the primer provided enough force to push the round out of the cartridge into the barrel of the revolver, where it stuck. The gun was then reused to shoot the death scene of Lee's character. This time it was reloaded with a blank cartridge that contained propellant and a primer. When actor Michael Massee fired the gun, the bullet was propelled into Lee.[148]
  • 1993: Garry Hoy, a 38-year-old lawyer in Toronto, fell to his death on 9 July 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 visitors that the glass was "unbreakable." The glass did not break, but popped out of the window frame.[149][150]
  • 1993: Michael A. Shingledecker, Jr. was killed 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.[151]
  • 1994: Jennifer Jones, a 15-year-old student, dies at her Palm Beach, Florida home after attempting to inhale freon gas from the air-conditioning unit.[152]
  • 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.[153]
  • 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, but missed all of the vital organs. He reloaded and shot away his throat and part of his jaw. Breathing through the throat wound, 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.[154]
  • 1996: Sharon Lopatka, from Maryland, was killed by Robert Glass who claimed that she had solicited him to torture and kill her for the purpose of sexual gratification.[155]
  • 1997: Karen Wetterhahn, a professor of chemistry at Dartmouth College, died of mercury poisoning ten months after a few drops of dimethylmercury landed on her protective gloves. Although Wetterhahn had been following the required procedures for handling the chemical, it still permeated her gloves and skin within seconds. As a result of her death, regulations were altered.[156][157]
  • 1998 October: The entire association football team of Bena Tshadi playing against Basanga was killed by lightning during a match in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Everyone on Basanga, the home team, survived.[158][159]
  • 1999: Dominguez Garcia was killed 25 February 1999, by an airborne cow in Vacaville, California. The animal had strayed onto the highway and was struck by another vehicle, launching it into his lane where it crashed through his windshield.[160][161]
  • 1999: Children's entertainer Rod Hull died while adjusting the television aerial on the roof of his house. He had been watching a Manchester United European Cup match with his 19-year-old son Oliver. In his attempt to improve reception, he slipped from the roof and fell through an adjoining greenhouse. The 63-year-old entertainer suffered a severe skull fracture and chest injuries. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Conquest Hospital in Hastings.[162][163]
  • 1999: Jon Desborough, a physical education teacher at Liverpool College, died when he slipped and fell onto the blunt end of a javelin he was retrieving. The javelin passed through his eye socket and into his brain, causing severe brain damage and putting him into a coma. He died a month later.[164][165]

21st century


  • 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.[166]
  • 2001: Gregory Biggs, a homeless American man in Fort Worth, Texas, was struck by a car being driven by drunk driver, Chante Jawan Mallard and became lodged in her 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. Biggs died of his injuries several hours later.[167]
  • 2001: Michael Colombini, a 6-year-old American boy from Croton-on-Hudson, New York, was struck and killed at Westchester Regional Medical Centre, by an oxygen tank when it was pulled into the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine while he underwent a test. He had begun to experience breathing difficulties while in the MRI and when an anaesthesiologist brought a portable oxygen canister into the magnetic field, it was pulled from his hands and struck the boy in the head.[168][169]
  • 2002: Brittanie Cecil, a 13-year-old American, was struck in the head by a hockey puck shot by Espen Knutsen and deflected into the crowd at an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio. She died two days later in the hospital.[170]
  • 2002: Richard Sumner, a British artist suffering from schizophrenia, went into a remote section of Clocaenog Forest in Denbighshire, Wales, handcuffed himself to a tree and threw the keys out of his reach. His skeleton was discovered three years later. There were signs that he may have later changed his mind.[171]
  • 2003: Brian Douglas Wells, an American pizza delivery man in Erie, Pennsylvania, was killed when a time bomb fastened around his neck exploded. At the time of his death he had been apprehended by the police for robbing a bank. Wells told police that three people had locked the bomb around his neck and would not release it had he refused to commit the robbery.[172]
  • 2004: Phillip Quinn, a 24-year-old from Kent, Washington, was killed while heating up a lava lamp on his kitchen stove. The lamp exploded and a shard pierced his heart.[173]
  • 2004: Ronald McClagish, from Murrow, Cambridgeshire in England, was trapped inside a cupboard when a wardrobe outside fell over and made it impossible for him to get out. McClagish survived for a week before succumbing to bronchitis, which he had contracted when he removed a waterpipe in an attempt to free himself and the cupboard was partially flooded.[174][175]
  • 2004: An unidentified Taiwanese woman died of alcohol intoxication after immersion for twelve hours in a bathtub filled with 40% ethanol. Her blood alcohol content was 1.35%. It was believed that she had immersed herself as a response to the SARS epidemic.[176]
  • 2004: Tracy J. Kraling, 31, was killed at Regions Hospital in Minnesota after entering a walk-in autoclave. The door closed while she was inside, and the machine automatically started, scalding her with 180 °F (82 °C) water.[177]
  • 2004: Francis "Franky" Brohm, 23, of Marietta, Georgia was leaning out of a car window and decapitated by a telephone pole support wire. The car's intoxicated driver, John Hutcherson, 21, drove nearly 12 miles (19 km) to his home with the headless body in the passenger seat, parked the car in his driveway, then went to bed. A neighbour saw the bloody corpse still in the car and notified police. Brohm's head was later discovered at the accident scene.[178]
  • 2005: Kenneth Pinyan from Seattle, Washington, died of acute peritonitis after receiving anal intercourse from a stallion. The case led to the criminalization of bestiality in Washington state.[179]
  • 2005: Lee Seung Seop, a 28-year-old from South Korea, collapsed of fatigue and died after playing the videogame StarCraft online for almost 50 consecutive hours.[180]
  • 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.[181]
  • 2006: An unidentified airline mechanic was sucked into the engine of a Boeing 737-500 at El Paso International Airport while performing routine maintenance on the tarmac.[182][183]
  • 2006: Steve Irwin, an Australian television personality and naturalist known as the Crocodile Hunter, died when his heart was impaled by a short-tail stingray barb while filming a documentary in Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.[184]
  • 2006: Mariesa Weber, a petite 38-year-old woman, asphyxiated when she became wedged upside-down behind a bookcase in her bedroom while trying to adjust a plug on her television set. Her family, believing she had been abducted, searched for eleven days before finally finding the body.[185]
  • 2006: Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer of the Russian State security service and later a dissident and writer, died from acute radiation syndrome after being poisoned with polonium-210.[186]
  • 2007: Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old woman from Sacramento, California, died of water intoxication while trying to win a Nintendo Wii console in a KDND 107.9 "The End" radio station's "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest, which involved drinking large quantities of water without urinating.[187][188]
  • 2007: Humberto Hernandez, a 24-year-old Oakland, California resident, was killed after being struck in the face by an airborne fire hydrant while walking. A passing car had struck the fire hydrant and the water pressure shot the hydrant at Hernandez with enough force to kill him.[189][190][191]
  • 2007: Kevin Whitrick, a 42-year-old British man, committed suicide by hanging himself live in front of a webcam during an Internet chat session.[192]
  • 2007: Surinder Singh Bajwa, the Deputy Mayor of Delhi, India, died after falling from his building's terrace while trying to fight off attacking Rhesus Macaque monkeys.[193]
  • 2008: Carol Hickey, a 43 year old mother of 4 from Co. Limerick, Ireland died after suffering a massive allergic reaction brought on after she had sex with an alsation dog.[194]
  • 2008: Abigail Taylor, a 6-year-old from Edina, Minnesota, 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. Surgeons had replaced her intestines and pancreas with donor organs, but she later succumbed to a rare transplant-related cancer.[195]
  • 2008: David Phyall, 50, the last resident in a block of flats due to be demolished in Bishopstoke, near Southampton, Hampshire, England, cut off his own head with a chainsaw to highlight the injustice of being forced to move out.[196][197]
  • 2009: Taylor Mitchell, a Canadian folk singer, was attacked and killed by two coyotes, the only recorded adult person to have been killed by this species.[198][199]


  • 2010: Amy Rose Coxall, a 15-year-old British schoolgirl studying in Hong Kong, died of strangulation shortly after her scarf got caught in the wheel of a go-kart she was driving on a karting course.[200]
  • 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.[201]
  • 2010: Jimi Heselden, 62, British owner of the Segway motorized scooter company, was killed when he accidentally drove off a cliff on a Segway at his estate at Thorp Arch near Boston Spa.[202][203]
  • 2010: 20 crew and passengers died in a plane crash near Bandundu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when a crocodile, being smuggled by one of the passengers in a sports bag, freed itself and panicked the passengers who all ran towards the flightdeck. The tiny Filair L-410 Turbolet became unbalanced and crashed, despite the lack of any technical failure. One passenger and the crocodile survived.[204][205]
  • 2010: Mike Edwards, 62, cellist and a 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.[206][207][208]
  • 2011: Jose Luis Ochoa, 35, died after being stabbed in the leg at an illegal cockfight in Tulare County, California, by a bird with a knife-like spur strapped to its leg.[209][210]
  • 2012: Erica Marshall, a 28-year-old British veterinarian in Ocala, Florida, died when the horse she was treating in a hyperbaric chamber kicked the wall, released a spark from its horseshoes and triggered an explosion.[211][212][213]
  • 2013: Takuya Nagaya, 23, from Japan, started to slither on the floor and claimed he had become a snake. Takuya died after his father spent the next two days head-butting and biting him "to drive [out] the snake that had possessed him."[214]
  • 2013: Roger Mirro was crushed by a trash compactor while looking through a dumpster for his phone.[215]
  • 2013: An unnamed Belarusian fisherman, 60, bled to death after being bitten by a beaver which he had tried to grab in order to have his picture taken with it.[216][217]
  • 2013: João Maria de Souza, 45, was crushed in his bed by a cow falling through the roof of his home in Caratinga, Brazil. The cow had climbed on top of the house from a steep hillside behind it. Both the cow and his wife (who had been in bed next to him) were unharmed.[218]
  • 2013: Denver Lee St. Clair was asphyxiated by a wedgie administered by his stepson during a fight. After St. Clair had been knocked unconscious, the elastic band from his torn underwear was pulled over his head and stretched around his neck, strangling him.[219][220]
  • 2013: Kendrick Johnson, 17, was discovered trapped upside down in a rolled-up gym mat in his high school gymnasium. Police originally concluded he had climbed in to retrieve a shoe and became trapped, but the case was later reopened as a possible homicide.[221][222][223][224][225]
  • 2013: Miguel Martinez, 14, from Lubbock, Texas, was impaled through the chest by the horn of a bull statue while playing hide-and-seek at night in front of the National Ranching Heritage Center.[226]
  • 2014: Heval Yıldırım, 13, of Turkey was killed when a sacrificial goat bought for Eid al-Adha jumped off the roof over a protective fence and fell onto him. Yıldırım's father placed the goat on the roof of the building where he lived because he could not find another suitable place to keep it.[227]
  • 2014: Christophe de Margerie, an oil executive, was killed when his corporate jet collided with a snowplow reportedly driven by a drunk driver.[228][229]
  • 2014: Peng Fan, a chef in Foshan, China, was bitten by a cobra's severed head, which he had cut off 20 minutes earlier while preparing a soup.[230][231]
  • 2015: Chelsea Ake-Salvacion, 24, an employee of a Henderson, Nevada salon, was suffocated while using a cryotherapy machine set to the wrong level, which eliminated the oxygen in the chamber.[232][233]
  • 2016: V. Kamaraj, a 40-year old Indian bus driver. Local Indian newspapers claimed he was killed by a meteorite which left a 2-foot (61 cm) crater, although officials from NASA oppose that view saying that the most likely explanation was a land-based explosion.[234][235][236][237]
  • 2016: Lottie Michelle Belk, 55, was fatally stabbed in the chest by a beach umbrella blown by a strong wind.[238] Wind speeds at the time reached 20–25 miles per hour (32–40 km/h).[239][240]
  • 2016: Caleb Schwab, 10, was decapitated when he was ejected from his raft on Verrückt, a 168-foot-tall (51 m) water slide.[241][242]
  • 2016: Irma Bule, 29, an Indonesian dangdut singer who performed with live snakes, died during a concert after being bitten by a king cobra and refusing treatment.[243][244]
  • 2016: Anton Yelchin, 27, an actor known for portraying Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek reboot movie series, was found pinned between his car and a brick wall. His driveway is on an incline and his car was found running and in neutral.[245][246]
  • 2016: A seven-year-old girl died after being struck by a stone thrown by an elephant from its enclosure at the zoo at Rabat, Morocco.[247][248]
  • 2017: Charlie Holt, 5, was killed at the Sun Dial Restaurant, a rotating restaurant at the top of Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia; his head was caught in a small space between the rotating and non-rotating sections.[249]
  • 2017: Robert Dreyer, 89, drowned on his birthday after crashing his car into a fire hydrant.[250]
  • 2017: Debra Bedard, 58, died after falling from a golf cart onto shards of wine glasses that had broken in her hands in Calaveras County, California.[251]
  • 2017: Rebecca Burger, 33, a fitness blogger and model, died after a pressurized canister of whipped cream exploded and struck her in the chest.[252]
  • 2017: Hidr Korkmaz, 42, a Turkish-Dutch drug dealer and informant, died while fishing when he threw his fish hook into an electric wire. Although he was a witness in the case against infamous Dutch criminal Willem Holleeder, he was not important to the case and authorities treated it as an accident.[253]
  • 2018: Rajesh Maru, 32, died at Nair Hospital in Mumbai after carrying a metal oxygen tank into a room housing an MRI scanner; the machine's magnetic field pulled Maru in, pinning his hand and breaching the tank, releasing liquid oxygen.[254] A hospital employee had asked Maru to transport the tank, as Maru's hospitalized relative would need it during her scan.[254][255] An autopsy showed that Maru died instantly from pneumothorax brought on by exposure to very high levels of leaked oxygen.[254] Conflicting reports state two or three hospital employees were arrested for negligence.[256][254] The Maharashtra state government compensated Maru's family 500,000 rupees.[256]
  • 2018: Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year old woman in Tempe, Arizona, died after being hit by a self-driving car operated by Uber, as she crossed the road, in what was reported to be the first death of a pedestrian struck by a self-driving car on public roads. In response to the fatal accident, Uber suspended self-driving car tests in all U.S. cities.[257][258]
  • 2018: Ateef Rafiq, 24, died from cardiac arrest in Birmingham, UK, while looking for his dropped mobile phone. His head became wedged under the electronic footrest of a cinema seat.[259]
  • 2018: Puneet Kaur, 28, died in the Indian state of Haryana at an amusement park after her hair became tangled in the wheels of a go-kart. As the go-kart continued moving forward, her scalp was ripped from her head. She was taken to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.[260]
  • 2018: Jennifer Riordan, 43, a passenger aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, died after debris from an engine failure struck and destroyed the window she was sitting next to. She was partially sucked out through the window, but was pulled back into the aircraft and was given CPR until an emergency landing was made. She died upon arrival at hospital with her cause of death determined to be blunt trauma to the head, neck and torso.[261][262]
  • 2018: Hildegard Whiting, 77, suffocated from the carbon dioxide vapors produced by four dry ice coolers in a Dippin’ Dots ice cream delivery car.[263][264] The car was borrowed by the deliveryman's wife to take Whiting home.[263][264]
  • 2018: John A. Korody, 61, died after falling into a vat of cooking oil and grease while standing on a grate in Orange County, Florida, near Orlando. Co-workers were unable to rescue him due to the strong fumes.[265]

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