A prank simply wouldn’t be a prank without some kind of danger or risk element involved, and unfortunately, this is why so many have turned fatal. When certain pranks backfire, they backfire in a pretty horrible way and end up costing lives for the sake of a quick laugh. Big or small, we can all admit to trying out a prank or two at some point in our lives – it’s almost a rite of passage when you’re growing up – but usually, we grow out of it, or at least, most of us do.
Many of the pranksters on this list weren’t too smart in planning their prank and gravely underestimated what the response would be from people. (If you’re going to dress up as a killer clown at night, after all, how do you expect people to react?). Other pranksters had no intention to scare or irritate other people, they just wanted to act stupid for a laugh, but things went sour pretty quickly and the laughs never came.
When a prank goes well, it might be remembered for years to come. Chances are, these 15 cases of a joke pushed too far will be remembered for a lot longer than that and will serve as a haunting reminder to stick to safer forms of so-called comedy. From classic jump scares and innocent childhood fun to some seriously deluded and misguided pranks that can be blamed on alcohol and Internet crazes, here are 15 pranks that resulted in grisly and unnecessary death.
15. YouTube-Inspired Hanging Prank Gone Wrong
Kids have a tendency to attempt crazes and trends – it’s a natural part of growing up. Unfortunately for one kid, the “craze” in question was a hanging prank he had seen other YouTubers do and he wanted to try it out for himself. 11-year-old Aundreis Bass from Georgia died after attempting a hanging prank he had watched on YouTube. His mother and three siblings found him hanging from a rope in his closet, struggling to untie it himself.
Aundreis’ mom immediately cut the rope and called 911 but he died days later at a children’s hospital in Atlanta. His mother Cantenecia Stokes has since urged other parents to monitor the content their kids watch online. Speaking emotionally to WBS-TV, Aundreis’ mom said: “I lost my baby because of something he didn’t know about completely.” All because of an irresponsible internet prank, a promising 11-year-old boy lost his life.
14. “Bigfoot” Killed By Freaked Out Motorists
It’s a given that the average person probably doesn’t believe in Bigfoot or Sasquatch, but that wouldn’t stop you freaking out if you saw a Bigfoot-like creature walking towards you on the highway, would it? A middle-aged man from Kalispell in Montana thought it would be a fun prank to dress up as the mythical woodland creature and wait for excited passers-by to “discover” him. Drivers discovered him alright, but before it was too late.
44-year-old local man Randy Lee Tenley purchased a military style ghillie suit (a type of three-dimensional camouflage) and wandered south onto Montana’s Highway 93. He was indeed spotted by motorists, but not in the way he hoped. One car on the highway swerved to avoid him, but two other vehicles driven by teens ran Tenley over and killed him. One struck him down and another ran over his body as he lay on the road. Lesson? A Bigfoot prank isn’t worth it.
13. Jump Scare Turned Fatal
The jump scare is the all-time classic way to prank someone. Surprising someone is supposed to be fun, but in certain circumstances, getting a shock from someone can make us do shocking and unpredictable things in return. Sadly, this is what happened for one teen in Colorado in a closet scare prank that went horribly wrong in 2013. 18-year-old Premila Lal was hiding in the closet at her home in Longton, Colorado to surprise a family friend who was house-sitting at the time.
When Premila jumped out of the closet on 21-year-old Nerrek Galley, Galley believed her to be an intruder and shot her without hesitation. Galley had picked up a gun after hearing noises in the home and walked near the closet to investigate. The man and friend of Premila’s was watching over her younger brother at the time and was convinced she was a possible intruder. She died of her injuries an hour later.
12. Choked On A Cheeseburger
No good ever came from the words “I bet you can’t do this,” did it? Stories like this prove why this competitive way of thinking can be incredibly dangerous and why it is definitely not worth it. A father of three needlessly lost his life when he attempted to impress his friends by stuffing an entire McDonald’s cheeseburger into his mouth. Darren Bray from Wales in the UK drunkenly told his friends “Watch this” as he forced the burger into his mouth. They watched in horror as he choked to death.
Friends of Darren said his face began turning blue and that he was making “horrible coughing noises” as he attempted to bring the food back up. “I tried to hit his back to help him clear his airway” one friend said. When paramedics arrived at the scene, Darren couldn’t be saved. Coroners later confirmed that there was “an eight by five-centimetre ball of food stuck at the back of his neck”. Gross.
11. Creepy Clown Prankster Shot Point-Blank In The Face
2016 was known as the year of the creepy “killer clown” craze which swept the globe. A few choice maniacs were inspired by films like The Purge and the character Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT and would scare people in the dark dressed as the kind of clown you would only see in your childhood nightmares (or on a bad drug trip). Some of these prankster killer clowns would wield a knife or similar weapon while coming up behind people, so it’s no surprise that some victims acted in self-defence.
In one such incident in Russia, 20-year-old Igor Chaldov was scaring people by the roadside for a prank video when he was shot dead in the face. In the disturbing footage, Chaldov can be seen leaping from the shadows and frightening several people, before pushing one guy too far. The clown prankster is seen chasing the man who quickly retaliates by pushing Chaldov to the ground. Before the clown daredevil has a chance to explain his jokey intent, the man pulls a gun on him and shoots him dead.
10. Halloween Toilet Paper Prank That Pushed A Homeowner Too Far
During the Halloween season, it’s a pretty common custom for kids to drape homes in toilet paper and throw eggs at people’s property – especially if they have a reason to be pissed off. For Adrian and her friends, they were out on a mission to get even with a boy from their school who had pranked them earlier. 15-year-old Adrian Broadway from Little Rock, Arkansas threw a combination of eggs, mayonnaise, toilet paper, and leaves on the car belonging to the boy’s dad.
Unfortunately, the father in question heard the group vandalizing his car outside and went nuts. 48-year-old Willie Noble ran out of the house and opened fire on the group as they sped away in their car. Before they got away, Noble fired at their car and shot 15-year-old Adrian in the head. She was taken to the local children’s hospital but later died from her injuries.
9. Ding Dong Dead
The game of “Ding, Dong, Ditch” (where you’d ring someone’s doorbell and scram) seemed to be a pretty popular childhood game back in the day. At the most, your intention would be to confuse and waste the time of the person answering the door, but not to drive them to a murderous rage. We can see why homeowners would get pretty irritated by repeated games of Ding Dong Ditch, but nobody would expect things to turn violent.
Sadly, things took a very violent turn for a Florida teen in 2003 when innocent childish hi-jinks cost him his life. 16-year-old Mark Drewes from Boca Raton in the Sunshine state was walking away from the home of local man Jay Levin when he was shot to death. Unaware that Drewes was only up to harmless mischief, Levin assumed the boy was an armed intruder and opened fire on him as he watched him walk away. Insane.
8. Grad Student Who Fell From Library Ledge
A promising MIT grad student fell to his death after trying to climb the roof of the library building on his campus. Computer programmer Nicholas Paggi decided to climb the engineering library known as the Great Dome and “The Centre of the Universe” by local students. Paggi and his friends were trying to climb along the lower ledges of the building to get to the roof, but it was raining and the grad student slipped and fell.
The Great Dome of the Engineering Library in Massachusetts is often a target for pranksters. Previous students have tried to deface the dome with banners and other decorations in the past, with an intent to “hack” the great dome at the centre of the building. Unfortunately, Paggi fell to his death trying to fulfil a student ritual on the campus. Nicholas had only just graduated with degrees in computer science and physics a couple of years earlier.
7. Underwear Prank Led Cop To Kill
This police officer had to be dealing with some deep personal issues or something because his retaliation to such a small offence is ridiculous. It all started with a group of prankster teens who went for a late night swim. Afterwards, they threw their soaking wet bathing costumes into a nearby cop car. Inconsiderate? For sure. Worth shedding blood over? Maybe in a horror movie, but surely not in real life.
The disgruntled cop didn’t take to this silly little prank too lightly and was determined to track down the teens responsible. Officer B.D. Gillespie of West Virginia made it his mission to get revenge on the teens whose only crime was dumping some wet underwear in his car. He eventually caught up to them and assaulted 18-year-old Timothy Hill. First with pepper spray, followed by beatings with his baton. He finally fired two rounds at Timothy and killed him. Unbelievable!
6. Friends Tested Out A Bulletproof Vest (And Failed)
If you’re going to try out the effects of a bulletproof vest, you might want to have some training first. Oh and maybe try the whole thing sober too. Unfortunately, two best friends who were under the influence of drugs and alcohol thought it might be fun to have one of them shoot the other while wearing a bulletproof vest. Best buds Mark Ramiro and Darnell Mitchell had clearly watched too many episodes of Jackass because they challenged each other to prank after prank until things turned fatal.
After challenging each other to lick toilets and lord knows what else, 30-year-old Mark Ramiro dared his friend of 15 years to don a bulletproof vest and let him shoot at him for a filmed stunt. Tragically (and perhaps inevitably, considering how wasted the two men were), the bullet missed the vest completely and killed Mitchell. Accidentally murdering your best friend for the sake of a Jackass-style prank? Talk about the world’s worst hangover.
5. Victim Of Car Egging Murdered 14-Year-Old Prankster
Along with “toilet-papering” around Halloween (or just for a laugh) another popular form of vandalism by kids is often to egg people’s houses. In 2006, a bunch of teens from Ohio decided to egg a guy’s car instead and to say the owner got pissed is an understatement. The angry driver got into his car and chased the kids down the street and a passenger opened fire on the kids, fatally wounding one of them, 14-year-old Danny Crawford.
When you dare your friends into a harmless egg-throwing prank, you don’t expect to see your buddy get shot and killed for it. Sadly, the maniac owner of the car thought the minor inconvenience of having to wash his egg-covered Jeep somehow justified taking a young boy’s life. Moral of the story? Egg someone’s property from a distance. Or maybe just don’t egg, full stop, with these kind of nut jobs around.
4. Innocent Word Play Resulted In Grim Murder
Proof that it isn’t always what you wear or what you do that can make people react in unpredictable ways – it’s sometimes what you say. This teen didn’t need to dress as a knife-wielding clown to rub people up the wrong way, he just had to say a poor choice of words to strangers on the street. 16-year-old Ryan Wilson and his friend’s idea of a prank was to walk the streets of Chicago asking people straight up: “Are you ready to dye?” Wilson and his friend would then present them with a bottle of hair dye (you can probably see where this is going).
While most strangers probably appreciated the teen’s sense of humour, one of their encounters definitely did not. After trying their pun line out on a few strangers on Chicago’s South side streets, Ryan and his buddy approached a couple of men who were actually members of Chicago’s Vice Lords gang. Before the teens could finish their punchline, the men clearly took the line as a threat and pulled out their gun, shooting Wilson several times in the head.
3. High School Student Killed For Stealing Balloon
If only we were making this up, but nope, this ridiculous and tragic death actually happened. Back in 1992, a high school senior named Clyde Thompson was taking part in his school’s annual scavenger hunt in Anchorage, Alaska. The scavenger hunt would take students all around the city to collect random items and one of them was a balloon. 18-year-old Clyde spotted a balloon tied up outside a furniture store so he went ahead to grab it – that’s when the store owner ran out and shot him.
The gun-toting shop owner claimed that he only opened fire with an intention to scare the kids (So yell at them, then maybe?). Unfortunately, this ‘warning’ shot fatally wounded high school senior Clyde weeks before he was due to graduate. People may say that Thompson should have asked the store owner for permission to take the balloon, but where’s the fun in that?
2. Best Man Drowned In Bachelor Party Stunt
Celebrating your last days of freedom before tying the knot usually allows for a bit of wild behaviour. Sadly, the hi-jinks of one bachelor party got a little too far out of control when a yacht prank cost the life of the best man. While on a yacht in Portugal, a group of friends dared one person to be thrown overboard. The fun-loving guy’s nominated their friend, 31-year-old Nishanthan Gnanathas to be the first, but once he was overboard, he never resurfaced.
During the stag party weekend, the men had often been fooling around, so Nish’s friends assumed their best man was just hiding underwater for a laugh. He had, in fact, struck his head on the side of the boat when he was tossed overboard and drowned. Nish’s friends jumped in the water to search for him, but his body wasn’t recovered for another six days. Grim stuff.
1. Another Fake Hanging Turned Real On Halloween
Halloween is a time pulling pranks on friends and family members – particularly if you get a chance to prank your sibling. Some teens might choose to prank their brother or sister by hiding a fake spider in their room or jumping out from inside their closet, but one teenager from Kentucky decided on a much darker stunt. He opted for a fake hanging trick in order to freak out his little sister. Mission accomplished – he freaked her out for life now she’s lost her big brother.
Teen Jordan Morlan was attempting the ultimate fake death prank by wearing a noose while supporting his body to make it only appear as if he had hung himself. Sadly, Jordan lost balance of his position while waiting for his sister to find him. The noose cut off blood flow to his brain and he remained trapped until he succumbed to asphyxiation. Tragically, his mother still thought Jordan was joking at first since he usually played Halloween tricks on the family.
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