People become famous for many varied reasons – some for their artistic talent, some for their criminal acts, and others for their do-gooder spirit, yet there are some unfortunate souls that are remembered not so much for what they did but for what happened to them, inadvertently as it seems. These people are unfortunate victims of freak accidents, and their life story is cut short dramatically. These incidents are painful to recount but also point towards the fact that as mortals, any of us could be gone the very next second.
And the strangest thing is that it’s not just normal, everyday people who end up the victims of freak accidents, celebrities too have faced the Reaper in the strangest and most tragic of ways. Frankly, people die in various ways, some in horrible accidents, some protecting their loved ones or country, some die of diseases , while some lucky ones die in their beds of nothing more than old age.
Freak accidents are well, freaky because they happen when you least expect them to. And they can happen anywhere, at any time, in just about any way. From flying objects that decide to land on your head to knives that bounce from springboards to stab you in the heart – the way some people have freakishly left for their heavenly abode is downright scary and will definitely leave you sleepless in the wee hours of the morning!
15. Strong Man But No Carpenter: Siegmund Zishe Breitbart
An Orthodox family had a son who led a rather boring life as a blacksmith near Lodz till the sinful life beckoned and he ran away with the circus, literally. The rest of his not-so-long life was spent travelling between Europe and America, doing his feats of amazing strength, twisting irons bars around his biceps and pulling locomotives with his teeth. He later joined the famous Busch circus, the then-largest circus of the world and performed mortality-defying stunts on a daily basis like a tug-of-war with his teeth against a team of whipped horses or supporting a motordrome on his chest whilst two other performers did their cycling stunts in it.
You’d think this was one man even the Reaper was afraid to harvest but no such luck. What did this manly muscle man in was a very minor injury. One of his stunts was to hammer a railroad spike into a plank of wood… with his bare hands. Unfortunately, he hammered the spike into his knee. The injury got infected, turned septic, and this legendary strong man died of nothing more than a blood infection.
14. Swan Song: The Final Curtain Call
There are few people who go into the dark night doing what they love the most, though these few stage performers may not have quite anticipated their curtain call quite like this. And though the stage has been turned red many times by “live” performers who decide to murder, commit suicide, and just generally stain their audiences with crimson forever, these performers died in freak incidents that they least expected.
American baritone Leonard Warren began his aria as Don Carlo in La Forza del Destino and ironically began with his first line “to die, a momentous thing” before literally dropping dead, rather unceremoniously of a fatal cerebral hemorrhage.
Not to be left behind, Tenor David Versalle sang his line “You can only live so long” in The Makropulos Case, and then suffered a fatal heart attack and fell off a 20-foot-tall ladder. Double whammy!
And then in 1985 came the freak death of butoh dancer Yoshiuki Takada of the Sankai Juku dance company who was dancing his routine of The Dance of Birth and Death, hung upside down some six stories above the ground. The rope broke and Takada fell to his death, never releasing the fetal position he was dancing in.
13. No Stage Accident: Kitchens Can Kill Too
In 2003, a woman named Jane McDonald from Airdrie, Lanarkshire, UK tripped on a kitchen spill and fell onto the dishwasher. Unfortunately, she fell on a knife kept upright in the dishwasher and died, despite being rushed to the hospital.
And kitchen accidents are not just limited to her, a similar thing happened to a young boy before her who tripped and fell onto knives protruding upwards on the dishwasher and tragically died. This has prompted dishwasher companies and safety authorities to say that all sharp objects in a dishwasher should be kept facing downwards to avoid the occurrence of a freak (but definitely fatal) accident such as these.
And freak and fatal accidents are not just relegated to home kitchens. In 2016, a baker and single mother Carmen “Jackie” Lindhardt lost her life in a freak kitchen accident when she was sucked into an industrial mixer while mixing a batch of pastries in a commercial kitchen of the Reams store in Utah. While co-workers rushed in to shut off the mixer after hearing her screams, her upper body was mangled and she lost her life.
12. They Danced Themselves To Death: Mass Freak Out
There have been instances in history that just can’t be explained by science, where entire city populations have danced to the point of dropping dead. Known as the Dancing Fever, Dancing Plague, or scientifically as MPI (or mass psychotic illness), the Dancing Plague of Strasbourg in 1518 was perhaps the worst recorded incident of the same.
By the end of August, hundreds of normal town people were dancing wildly through the city and this was after a period of dryness, crops gone badly, and famine looming large. It all started with one woman, Mrs. Troffea, who danced for four days straight and within a month there were more than 400 people dancing madly. Town officials believed that more dancing would cure them all and so they constructed stages and even had paid musicians playing music for them. But when these dancers began to drop like flies, dying of heart attacks, exhaustion, and strokes, the dancing was deemed a curse and banned!
11. Death by Bras: The Case Of The Killer Lingerie
When you think of dangerous items around the house that can prove fatal in freak accidents, you’d think of knives, the gas stove, ovens, other electrical appliances, and bras, right? Wait, bras? Dangerous? That’s what you must be thinking too…
Wipe that smirk off your face, and read this: In 1999 in London, England, two women were walking through Hyde Park on a fine day when suddenly the day turned not so fine and a thunderstorm came knocking through. So both these gals took shelter under a tree, seeking protection from the thunderclaps and the lightning bolts. Bad idea, especially since the ladies were wearing underwired bras. A massive bolt of lightning struck them both, with the metal wiring of the bras acting as perfect conductors. Death, tragic and unexpected as it was, was thankfully instant though their bodies, which were discovered only 15 hours later. The official cause of death was listed as misadventure.
10. A “Sweet” Way to Go: The Boston Tsunami
No, this writer has not lost her marbles and is well aware of Boston’s history of not having suffered any major tsunami. That said, on a rather warm and sunny day in January 1919 in Boston, a massive tank containing about 2.5 million gallons of molasses exploded somewhere in the city’s North End. Imagine the tank’s dimensions, it was 50 feet high and had a diameter of 90 feet, so yes, it was rather ginormous. And when it exploded, it sent shrapnel flying as far as 200 feet!
Some residents died from the blast, some from the shrapnel, but most died when a tsunami of molasses 25-feet high swept through the neighborhood at 35mph, knocking people down, sucking them in and drowning them in sticky, sweet goop. It took months to clean up the city with over a 100 lawsuits being settled for $100 million six years after. At least 21 people died, though in a city overloaded with Italian immigrants, the true death count was never truly calculated.
9. Till Death Do Us Part: The Junk Brothers
In 1909, Langley and Homer Collyer were brothers in their early twenties who moved into Harlem being scions of an upper-class family. For reasons unknown, instead of living a normal life of working hard and partying harder, these brothers began to turn hermetic and withdrew from all aspects of social life. Then they turned into hoarders. Broken and moldy furniture, tons of newspaper, busted chandeliers and electronics, smashed pianos and baby carriages, cracked clocks and junk toys, it seemed like all of London’s junk was slowly finding its way into the Collyer residence. In 1930, Homer went blind and was bedridden by rheumatism in 1940. Langley began to nurse Homer and started collecting more and more junk in hopes of Homer regaining his sight.
Langley also booby-trapped the house, so that no intruder could steal any of their precious junk. Unfortunately, once of his own traps did him in when he tripped on one and was buried under an avalanche of junk. Homer could only watch and slowly starve to death as his brother lay dead. When Homer’s corpse was discovered, there were 180 tons of junk in the apartment. The authorities searched for Langley for weeks, before realizing he was buried in the same apartment under the junk.
8. The Boy Who Cried Hygiene: Death By Deodorant
In 1998, a 16-year-old boy died of a heart attack. Now while traditionally 16-year-olds don’t die from heart attacks, it is not unheard of either. That said, this tragic death occurred due to exposure to one too many deodorant fumes. The case was featured on BBC and claims were made that since 1971, more than 130 people have died by deodorant, purposely inhaling it to end their lives or drug themselves up. This boy’s case is the only “accident” on record for he had no death wish but perhaps a hygiene compulsion bordering on OCD.
This teen was obsessed with personal hygiene and in his quest to be the cleanest, squeakiest boy around, would liberally spray his entire body twice a day with deodorant. The family of the boy stated that it was so bad that sometimes they could taste the fumes even downstairs. And surely enough, the autopsy revealed that he had 10 times the lethal amount of butane and propane in his bloodstream that he inadvertently inhaled from his brand of body spray. The reason for this awful accident is because he used to spray himself in a confined, non-ventilated space (a closet maybe) and that led to the accumulation of the deadly gases around (and inside) him.
7. A Trippy Way To Go: Doctor Recommend Barbers
In 1927, a man named Hans Langseth from Norway died. He holds the Guinness World Record for having the longest beard ever that hung an astonishing 17.5 feet from his chin. Yep, way longer than the man himself! However, this story is about another Hans’s altogether.
Hans Steininger was an Austrian dude living in the mid-1500s. His beard was a mere 4.5 feet, and couldn’t even hold a candle to the 20th century Hans. That said, his beard, short as it was, caused his untimely death in what today can only be called hilarious. Mostly, Hans the Austrian would keep his long beard safely rolled up in a leather pouch. On the day that would end up being his last, he did not. In 1567, a fire broke out in Hans’ town and along with the many other people fleeing for their lives, Hans pumped his legs away from the fire as well. Unfortunately, his beard got in the way and tripped him and poor Hans died of a broken neck and the subsequent flames.
6. Secret Killers: Maniacal, Murdering Hydrants
Think fire hydrant and what comes to mind? Hot summer days and hydrants spewing their water around for children to frolic in? Or a life saver when it comes to fires being put out by the firemen? OR even peeing dogs, right?
For Oakland citizen, 24-year-old Humberto Hernandez, it meant a visit from the Grim Reaper. And when the Reaper comes, well, your death is a sure bet! In 2007, while Humberto and his wife were strolling along the pavement to have dinner, a Ford Escape blew a tire. The driver inadvertently swerved and hit a hydrant. The force of the crash and the water that the hydrant was capping was so strong that the hydrant sort of launched, right into the back of Humberto’s head, killing him on the spot. If he had been just a step ahead or a step back, the fire hydrant would have missed him, but such is the tragedy of a freak accidents, isn’t it?
5. David Carradine: The Celeb Who Died While Doing The Dirty
If you don’t know who David Carradine is, think Bill in Kill Bill. Yep, not particularly young, 72-year-old Carradine was found dead in a Bangkok hotel room, naked, and with a cord wrapped around his neck and genitals. The cause of the death was ruled as accidental asphyxiation but it is said that the true cause was his penchant for autoerotic asphyxiation in which the oxygen supply is cut off during climax in order to heighten sexual pleasure. In effect it is a dangerous practice and has caused the death of countless in the past.
The first ever case of autoerotic asphyxiation was perhaps Frantisek Kotzwara, a composer in the 1700s who along with the way of his death was also famous for his song “The Battle of Prague,” (a favorite of Mark Twain). Famously, in 1971 Kotzwara visited a prostitute and paid her 2 schillings to cut off his testicles and despite the money, the lady refused. So Kotzwara then tied a noose around his neck and proceeded to have sex with her until he was dead.
4. Hellfire & Damnation: A Trip That Became A Pyre
In 1963, Air Canada flight 797 had an accidental fire behind the washroom and the fire spread between the outer hull and the inner decor panels of the plane, filling the cabins with toxic smoke. The fire also burned through crucial electrical cables and so most of the cockpit instruments went down. Okay, so that happens at times, right? The pilots quickly made an emergency landing and did so perfectly as well with emergency personnel already on the field to start evacuating the passengers – so far so good.
Unfortunately, 90 seconds after the doors opened, the inrush of air caused a “flashover” fire, killing the 23 passengers still inside the plane in a bizarre and a tragic accident! The total passenger count was 41 and 18 of them survived this tragedy having been lucky enough to be evacuated first. The unlucky 23 perished of smoke inhalation and burns, some bodies being burnt beyond recognition. All five of the crew survived, and the pilots were later lauded for their difficult emergency landing though also trashed for their late reaction in declaring an emergency in the first place.
3. 3. When Animals Go Wild: Steve Irwin And More
Tears were shed when acclaimed TV personality and animal lover Steve Irwin died after being pierced in the heart by the barb of an 8-foot stingray in chest-deep water in what can only be called a freak and tragic accident, just as he and his cameraman were filming the final shot of the stingray swimming away from them.
That said, animals sometimes do get theirs back. In 2016, a fisherman in Tanzania died when a live fish he had caught, flip-flopped in a way that it jumped into his mouth and throat, thereby choking and killing him. In the same year, a seven-year-old girl died in the Rabat Zoo in Morocco after being struck by a stone that an elephant threw!
Probably a fan of Salma Hayek’s python dance in From Dawn to Dusk, 29-year-old Irma Bule, a Dangdut singer who performed with live cobras, was bitten by one, refused treatment, and died. And in 2013, 45-year-old João Maria de Souza was crushed by a cow falling through the roof of his home in Brazil!
And then there are those who have animal fetishes and die for it. In 2008, a 43-year-old mother of four in Ireland died from having sex with a dog (gross) when the semen of the dog triggered a fatal allergic reaction similar to that of a peanut allergy. And to top that off, in 2005, Kenneth Pinyan died from a torn colon caused by him having receptive anal sex with a stallion. Jeez, how do people get their kicks?!
2. Of Death By Gunshot, But Accidentally: Brandon Lee
Bruce Lee was rather legendary, or still is. Known as much for his physique and his practice of martial arts as he is for his rather young and mysterious death, the death of his only child made the legacy of the Lees sadder and all the more sensational.
While filming The Crow, Brandon Lee was in a scene in which he comes back to his apartment only to find his fiancée being raped and beaten. He is supposed to be shot by the villain, played by Michael Massee and when Massee fired, the improperly loaded gun actually launched a bullet, injuring Brandon in the abdomen. Brandon later died of his injuries and Massee took a year’s sabbatical, too shook up to understand what he had inadvertently done. Incidentally, Massee died in 2016 of cancer.
While this was a filming accident, in 2014 in another freak accident, a 3-year-old toddler accidentally shot and killed his 26-year-old-mother Christa Engles while she was changing the diaper of her 1-year-old daughter! No to be outdone is the case of Michael Holzworth, a gun seller, whose 3-year-old was accidentally shot and killed, using one of Holzworth’s guns, by a 4-year-old neighbor. What a gun crazy world, for sure…
1. When Cars Go Bad: Anton Yelchin & More
2016 was abuzz by the very tragic and very freaky accident that killed Anton Yelchin, the 27-year-old actor of Star Trek Beyond fame who died when he was fatally pinned by his car (a Jeep) after it rolled down the steep driveway of his L.A. home. He was found pressed in between his brick mailbox and security fence early Sunday morning and the coroner said he is likely to have died within a minute of this freak incident. Over 1.1 million 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees were recalled because the new electronic gearshift, or e-shift, made it difficult to put the car into park, drive or reverse, likely the reason behind Anton’s untimely death.
Hardly the only case of a killer car, though, as in 2017, Brooklyn driver Xin Xheng Lin, 52, was moving his car to the other side of the street to avoid a ticket for blocking the street sweepers. Instead of using a rearview mirror, Lin stuck his head out of the door of his Toyota Sienna and his skull got caught between the vehicle’s frame and a 30-foot tree. EMTs extracted him and tried to save him but the pressure on his brain ultimately did him in. He is survived by a wife and an 8-year-old son.
So today, take care of yourself. And just stay inside reading articles on TheRichest, just to be on the safe side!