Terrible things happen every day. More and more, it seems like tragedy is right around the corner. It is a dangerous world out there, and we should cherish the aura of safety we seem to feel throughout our daily lives. Shocking things happen, but we’re so overwhelmed with information that they hardly make us pause anymore. Still, we must press on with the rest of our lives, knowing that terrible things happen at random. We can’t focus on our imminent death, as we are just as likely to die trying to avoid danger as we are in the midst of it. It’s a dark way of thinking, but I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion when you’ve finished reading this article.
These pictures range from shocking to downright sad. Many of them capture the last moments for the subjects of the photos. Others depict people in the midst of coming to grips with their fate. We see the lunging panther or the crashing plane, knowing that the people in the photos are thinking that their time is limited. Pictures like these make you contemplate on your own mortality. Death is always right around the corner for us, as it was for these 15 people below.
15. Escaped Jaguar
A jaguar escaped from the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal and a search team was dispatched to find it and capture it. The team was relatively ineffective, and they failed to tranquilize the beast multiple times. The village of Limbu lived in fear of the jaguar during the time it roamed free. In this picture, you can see it attacking one of the men sent to bring it back alive. The man survived the attack, though he had painful wounds to show for it. The jaguar, however, did not survive. It was shot with a live round after the tranquilizers failed, and died before it could be returned to the animal sanctuary. In this case, the tragedy came in the form of a dead animal rather than a dead person.
14. Air France Flight 4590
This chilling photo of Air France Flight 4590 was captured when the plane took off and caught fire. It was bound for New York City on the 25th of July in 2000, and crashed into a nearby hotel shortly after takeoff. All 100 passengers and nine crew members were killed in the crash, as were four people on the ground. The crash was caused by a punctured fuel tank. The Concorde ran over a piece of debris on the track, which popped the tire and sent a piece of metal jetting into the fuel tank. The plane was unable to climb and accelerate but it was too late to abort the takeoff. All the people on the ground could do was watch helplessly as the plane took off and subsequently crashed.
13. Big Game Hunters
Big game hunting is a controversial topic, but these two men went out into the woods with the intent to snag themselves a bear as a trophy. In the photo, you can see the two men posing with their kill, but an ominous creature in the background is still stalking them. The hunters didn’t notice that the bear had a buddy, and while bears are usually rather shy when it comes to attacking humans, they will do so if they feel as though they or their family is being threatened. This bear clearly knew what these hunters were up to, and it stalked them back to their camp. Bear attacks, while uncommon, are devastating, and you can only imagine what this bear did once he got a hold of the two men who killed his brother.
The Titanic is one of the more famous cases of travesty in history, mostly credited to the film by the same name. While Leonardo DiCaprio was not on board at the time, it was still a tragedy nonetheless. This picture of the vessel was taken shortly before it hit the iceberg that sank the ship. As you probably know, the Titanic was billed as unsinkable, but the passengers and crew found out the hard way that this was not the case. Around 1,500 people died when the Titanic sank that day, and only half that number was brought to safety in life boats. The Titanic’s sinking would go down in history as one of the most deadly accidents ever.
11. Tupac’s Last Photo
This photo was taken on September 7, 1996, just moments before Tupac was fatally shot by an unknown, drive-by shooter. The car was plastered with bullets after the attack, and Tupac died in the hospital a few days later from his injuries. Suge Knight survived, although he wasn’t without controversy surrounding the situation. There are many theories surrounding Tupac’s killing, with some saying that it was Suge Knight himself that orchestrated it. Others insist that Tupac faked his death, and that he’s presumably still alive in South America somewhere, living out the rest of his days in anonymity. No one outside of his circle truly knows what happened, but there have been multiple investigative reports delving into the killing. One such investigation alleges that it was Suge Knight who was behind the killing of both Tupac and Baggie Smalls.
10. Paul Walker’s Porsche
Paul Walker was famous for his starring role in the Fast and Furious movie franchise. He was quite the gear-head in real life too, and enjoyed speeding around in fancy cars. This impulse would be the death of him though, as the car he’s seen entering into would be the car he would eventually die in hours later. This, along with another picture of Walker behind the wheel of the Porsche would be the last photos of the actor alive. In the aftermath of Walker’s death, it was revealed that the Porsche Carrera GT, the model of the car Walker was driving at the time of the crash, had been prone to devastating crashes. Many of the cars had been totaled, and emails were found that showed employees rejoicing over that fact. They were happy because the value of the existing cars would go up if more of them crashed. It appears that Walker’s death might not have been his fault, and the wrongful death lawsuit is still under way.
9. Hunter Becomes The Hunted
A hunter got a drastic surprise after he bagged a large buck one evening. He was posing for this picture when the photographer noticed something in the background of the shot. What he had seen was a mountain lion that was lured to their location by the tasty smell of blood. Mountain lions can certainly fend for themselves in the woods, but no one turns down a free meal. Additionally, the cougar probably wouldn’t be able to take down such a large animal by itself, so it was lucky that the hunter did the dirty work for him. The story of what happened next has been relegated to internet lore, but it is said that the man escaped without being harmed by the animal.
8. Hot Air Balloon Tragedy
In 2014, a sight-seeing hot air balloon in New Zealand went as bad as it could possibly go. The hot air balloon hit power lines as it rose, and eventually burst through them, catching fire and killing everyone on-board. Eleven people were killed in total, including the pilot of the balloon. Much of the blame lied at his feet after the investigation. Many speculated that he had smoked pot earlier in the day, potentially affecting his judgement. This photo was taken by one of the many family members who were on the ground watching. One woman saw both of her elderly parents die in that fire. She saw a woman jump out of the balloon to her death, which she believed was her mother.
7. James Dean’s Death
James Dean was an American film star and car enthusiast. He had competed in several races with his cars, and this picture shows one of the last drives he would have. In this picture, we see Dean stopping for gas before continuing to drive his Porsche to the race he was attending. Little did he know that this would be the last time anyone would be able to drive that car. Hours after this photograph of Dean filling his gas tank was taken, the actor was dead. He died in a near head-on collision with another car. He was driving around 85 miles per hour at the time of the accident. He was attempting to do a racing maneuver on another car, but ran out of room and smashed into oncoming traffic. Photos of his car at the scene of the accident are virtually unrecognizable.
6. Bear Watcher
A hiker in New Jersey snapped a photo of a bear chilling near his hiking area. It isn’t every day that you encounter a bear up-close, so you can’t really blame him for wanting to document the moment. Unfortunately, though, this is not how you’re supposed to handle bear encounters, as the hiker didn’t make it out of this situation alive. He was mauled moments after he took the photo. Bears famously don’t want any beef with humans under normal circumstances, but if a bear is defending its cubs or prey, it may decide that it can take you. The best move is to make your presence known and to get the hell out of there if you see any bear cubs. You shouldn’t run, but rather move quickly with your eyes on the bear.
5. JFK Assassination
On November 22, 1963, the country changed forever when the sitting president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas during a parade. The assassination took place in broad daylight, just minutes after this picture of Kennedy and his wife were taken. The assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was himself assassinated while he was in police custody. The circumstances surrounding the assassination of JFK are fertilizer for conspiracy theories. The overwhelming theory is that JFK was assassinated by the CIA of the mafia. The main evidence for these theories are the entry wounds for the bullets along with Kennedy’s own words about “secret societies” leading up to his eventual assassination. Many argued that it would have been impossible for Oswald to act alone, but the facts seem to be lost in history. Maybe someday we’ll get answers to what truly happened that day.
4. Rhode Island Nightclub Fire
The 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire was devastating, and it left its mark on the community that can still be seen today. The band Great White was playing for the crowd at the time, when a pyrotechnic caught the wrong flammable substance and a fire began to spread. The nightclub was overcrowded at the time, which made the matter of exiting safely a difficult one. By the time the flames subsided, the venue was destroyed and 100 people had lost their lives. Another 200 were injured from the fire, and the event sparked a new strict level of enforcement into fire-safety regulations at clubs. The band was devastated by the fire as well.
3. Tiger Attack
While this story is a sad one, it is completely the victim’s fault that he was killed. I’m not a big victim-blaming guy, but when you find yourself face-to-face with a tiger, you’re going to have to accept most of the responsibility. This photo was taken in New Delhi, India, as a man wanted to get a closer look at this rare tiger at the zoo. He climbed the barricade and ignored the warnings from onlookers to get down. He got into the tiger’s cage, and it appears that’s where his plan ran out. The tiger cornered the man, not allowing him to escape for nearly 15 minutes. This was apparently not enough time to get the man some help, and the tiger dragged him off to his den and eventually killed him.
2. Dave Sanders: The Columbine Hero
On April 20, 1999, the actions of two high school students in Colorado shocked the country. Dylan Kelbold and Erick Harris began firing at students outside of the school, killing and injuring many before they even opened the school doors. William Sanders, who went by Dave, saw what was happening outside and rushed to the cafeteria to try to get as many students as possible to safety. He warned all of the students to take cover and get down. Sanders then ran out to warn other faculty and students about what was happening. Without the intervention of Sanders, many more students would have been killed that day. Sanders was struck by a bullet during the attack, and eventually died from his injury. He became known as “The Columbine Hero,” because without him, the already high death toll could have been even worse.
1. John Lennon’s Last Autograph
On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman. Chapman was obsessed with Lennon, but later became obsessed with religion and felt that Lennon had betrayed him by saying that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. He had decided to kill him months earlier, and even traveled to New York. However, he had changed his mind and returned home. This time he was not going to turn back.
Chapman waited outside Lennon’s hotel with a group of fans, and even handed him a copy of Lennon’s album to sign. The above photo was captured of this encounter, and showed Lennon signing Double Fantasy for Chapman. He waited after that, even encountering Lennon’s five-year old son, Sean. When Lennon returned around 10 PM, Chapman shot him five times in the back. Lennon died from his injuries.