Most of us hope to die peacefully in our beds, surrounded by loved ones. We also think of tragedy – car accidents, plane crashes, serial killers. However, with bodies as fragile as ours there are an infinite number of ways to end a life. You can wade through stories of people shooting themselves in the head or sneaking into a lion cage at a zoo, but of all the ways to be snuffed out, these ten are truly one of a kind.
Have you ever loved a drink so much that you felt like you could drink it for the rest of your life? Read the story of health nut Basil Brown, who drank so much carrot juice that he died within 10 days. What about Frank Hayes, the jockey who died in the middle of a race while his horse was first across the finish line? Edward II was rumored to have been assassinated via a hot poker up the anus. If you prefer to look upon the terrifying enigma of death with a humorous eye, or if you simply enjoy reading tales of natural selection at its finest, each of these ten dumb deaths that would make Darwin himself proud. Whether mysterious, hilarious, or downright odd, these are a crack-up. Sit down, pop some popcorn, and prepare to absorb a melange of deadly tales that will, ironically, make you chuckle.
10. Death by Beer Flood
A beer flood in the middle of London? Some called it an “Act of God.” However, when a large beer tower broke and spilled over 323,000 gallons of beer onto city streets, some emerged from the pandemonium worse for the wear. Eight people died from drowning, injury, and drunkenness. Others were having a much better time – the city became crazed with the supply of free beer, with people bringing cups and pots to scoop up the free drink. Victims of a local hospital were injured when they smelled the beer, became convinced that it was being served to other parts of the building, and scrambled to join in the fun. A dream come true for some, this free-for-all ended with eight coffins on the side of the street where people could make donations for the funeral.
9. Death by Immortality Potion
Don’t all of us wish we could be immortal? No one in history has tried harder to cheat death than China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. He reportedly sent armies of youngsters across the world to search for “immortal men” who could spill some secrets. He grew to believe that mercury was a miracle substance, but unfortunately for the old emperor, mercury didn’t make him immortal. It made him dead. He was on a tour of his empire when he was poisoned, and to keep the news of his death hushed up until a political strategy could be plotted, Qin Shi Huang’s body was transported back to China in a carriage full of dead fish to disguise the smell.
8. Death by Laughter
If you’re prone to fits of laughter, you might want to be careful. In 206 B.C., Greek philosopher Chrysippus reportedly laughed himself into the grave after getting a donkey drunk and watching it eat figs. Still chuckling, he said, “Now give the donkey a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs!” and apparently these were his last words, because he never stopped laughing after that.
7. Death by Beard
There are people who are proud of their beards, and there are people who are proud of their beards. Hans Steininger’s one great pride was his four-and-a-half foot long beard, a record at the time. The beard measured 4.5 feet and usually kept rolled up in a leather pouch. It was this crowning achievement in facial hair growth that brought about his death: while rushing from a fire in 1567, Hans tripped over his beard and broke his neck. He lived for his beard, and he died for it.
6. Death by Carrot Juice
Nutritionists will sing the praises of carrot juice, known for improving digestion and eyesight. Basil Brown, however, might feel differently – in 1974, he started drinking over a gallon per day. Combined with his apparent addiction to vitamin tablets, he consumed over 70 million units of Vitamin A in 10 days. After a while, his skin reportedly turned yellow. The autopsy report apparently cited cirrhosis of the liver as the cause of death, but we all know what really killed him: an unhealthy love of carrot juice.
5. Death by Nintendo Wii
When the Wii first came out in 2006, most of us would have given anything to get our hands on one. Jennifer Strange, however, paid the ultimate price. When a local radio station held a “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest, in which contenders competed to drink as much water as possible without using the bathroom, Jennifer Strange was apparently determined to win – so determined, in fact, that when she left work later in the day because she was suffering from terrible pain, she was never seen alive again. The cause of death? Hyponatremia, which occurs when someone drinks too much water. Marathon runners have perished from it, but this is perhaps the only time in history that someone has given their life to get ahold of a game console.
4. Death by Cockroach Body Parts
If you need another reason not to participate in a cockroach-eating contest, here’s one: you might die. Edward Archbold of West Palm Beach, Florida was pronounced dead in 2012 after choking on cockroach bits. One word: Ew! Archbold was participating in a 30-man strong roach-eating contest held by the Ben Siegel Reptile Store. Apparently the insect body parts clogged his airway and he tried desperately to swallow them, but no luck: unable to breathe, he collapsed and died. So, if you’re ever tempted to participate in a contest like this, just remember to be careful. If you don’t pass out from the sheer ick factor, the cockroach parts might get you first.
3. Death by Falling Cow
A cow falling through the roof. Though it sounds like a story spun by a fourth-grader, this is actually what happened to Joao Maria de Souza of Brazil. It would be a funny story, if the bovine creature hadn’t fallen right on the poor man, causing him to die from internal bleeding. Joao was 45, and his mother lamented losing her son to something as random as a falling cow, stating that she fought for his life as a toddler. The real lesson of the story is this: no matter how prepared you think you are, bad things such as falling cows can always happen.
2. Death by Horse Race
When the racehorse Sweet Kiss dashed through the finish line at Belmont Park in 1923, crowds were ready to congratulate jockey Frank Hayes on his win against 20:1 odds. However, as soon as horse and rider were off the track, it was evident that Hayes was missing something vital: a heartbeat. Evidently, Hayes suffered from a heart attack in the middle of the race, due to a combination of extreme weight loss and the excitement of the race, and perished. Sweet Kiss, though, sailed through the finish line in a shocking victory with a dead jockey on her back. As fast as she was, Sweet Kiss could never outrun the nickname “Sweet Kiss of Death”.
1. Death by Courtroom Demonstration
We all know courtrooms can be vicious, but usually never like this. In 1871, lawyer and former Congressman Clement Valladingham was determined to prove his case. His client, Thomas McGehan, was accused of shooting Thomas Myers to death in the midst of a bar brawl. Valladingham, however, believed that Myers could have shot himself, and he intended to demonstrate in court how this could be done. In front of judge and jury, he raised a gun to his head and mimicked shooting himself – but his empty gun wasn’t so empty after all. He was rushed to a hotel room, mortified by his fatal mistake, and died soon after. The case was won, although the client was shot to death himself a few years later.
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