People always seem to be taking pictures. This is especially true now that almost everyone has a camera. We like to capture special moments to show our friends and family as well as bringing ourselves back to the moment. Whenever a celebrity is in our midst, it’s too easy to pull out your iPhone or digital camera and snap a shot. Of course, there are plenty of other things and people to photograph too. Sometimes it’s a seemingly meaningless picture of an empty street or a random object. The thing is, you never know what you might accidentally capture on film.
There is a pretty well-known picture that was taken a couple of years ago in China. The photo is of a small group of people standing on a bridge in thick fog. There is nothing really interesting about it until you look further down the bridge and see a body falling into the river far below. It turns out that two young people were committing suicide by jumping off the bridge and just happened to jump at the same time the photo was taken. There are plenty of photos around that accidentally capture people during or just before a tragic event occurs. Here are 15 scary photos taken before death came knocking.
15 Budd Dwyer
Robert Budd Dwyer was a politician in Pennsylvania. In the early 1980s, the member of the Pennsylvania State Senate and State Treasurer was under investigation for corruption and, despite proclaiming his innocence, was found guilty on 11 different counts on December 18th, 1986. State law was such that Dwyer could not be removed from office until his sentencing on January 23rd, 1987. Dwyer called a press conference for January 22nd. During this conference, he read a prepared statement to the crowded room and then pulled out a .357 Magnum from a manila envelope. He calmly asked anyone that would be offended to leave the room. This photograph shows the disgraced politician as he put the barrel of the gun in his mouth. He proceeded to pull the trigger instantly killing himself. This whole incident was captured on film so all you gore nuts out there can see the video. Be warned. It’s extremely graphic
14 Pavel Kashin
Parkour has become an extremely popular pseudo-sport in recent years. It is based on army training and involves going from one point to another in the most efficient way no matter what obstacles might be in the way. Pavel Kashin took the sport to the extreme. He wasn’t afraid to engage in death-defying stunts that showcased his stunning agility and amazed onlookers. These stunts must have given him quite a rush. This is the last photo of Kashin as he performed a backflip on the ledge of a 16-storey building in St. Petersburg, Russia. He almost pulled it off successfully but almost doesn’t count in when you are so high up. He apparently landed on the ledge but couldn’t find his balance. He ended up tumbling off the ledge and fell to his death.
13 Officer Steven Green
This picture shows Officer Steven Green, a Mobile, Alabama police offer as he holds the door open for Lawrence Wallace Jr. Wallace Jr. had been arrested that day after robbing and setting fire to a convenience store. He was apprehended by an off-duty police officer at the scene. Moments after this photograph was taken, the 22-year-old criminal stabbed and killed Officer Green who was just 36 years old at the time. Wallace fled the scene in the dying officer’s car. During the ensuing chase, Wallace shot another officer but it wasn’t fatal. Wallace fled into a house and a wild gunfight followed. Police used tear gas to try to get Wallace out of the house but that failed. The career criminal was eventually shot several times and killed during the standoff.
12 Nicolae And Elena Ceausescu
It’s kind of hard to feel sympathy for this guy and his wife who are shown in one of our 15 scary photos taken before death came calling. The man in this photo is Nicolae Ceausescu who was the last Communist head of state in Romania. He came to power in 1967 and he was a brutal leader who killed any opponents, starved his people, and ran the country into the ground. The people finally revolted and by Christmas Day of 1989, Ceausescu, and his wife Elena were on trial in a military court. They were found guilty and sentenced to death. This photo shows the fallen leader and his wife at the very moment the bullets from the firing squad are sinking in. They were literally cut to shreds. Not only did these two die at that moment, so did communism in Romania.
11 Twin Towers Jumper
The September 11th terror attacks affected millions of people. Onlookers watched in disbelief as the World Trade Center burned and eventually collapsed after being hit by commercial airliners that had been hijacked. Some of the more vivid recollections that people have are the planes slamming into the towers and rescue workers standing amid the thick smoke in front of the rubble after the collapses. People were also mortified to witness the helpless people that were hanging out of windows 100 storeys up as they struggled to breathe and get relief from the searing heat of the fire. This picture captured one of the many people that were left with no choice but to jump to their deaths. There is no way that one could comprehend how desperate and frightened someone would have to be to choose such a certain fate. Simply heart-wrenching.
10 Reynaldo Dagsa
Reynaldo Dagsa was a local politician in Manila, Philippines. He was celebrating New Year’s with family members in Caloocan in 2011 when the unthinkable happened. While he was taking a picture of his wife, daughter, and another woman outside of his home, he was fatally struck down by an assassin’s bullets. The amazing thing is that the killer took his position just as the photograph was taken and was captured on film taking aim at the councilman. This photo clearly shows the killer, Michael Gonzales, moments before he opened fire. Dagsa was struck twice and was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. The shooter and two accomplices, including the lookout on the right of the picture, were arrested thanks to the evidence provided by Dagsa’s camera. Dagsa previously had Gonzales jailed for stealing cars and revenge was a prime motive for the killing.
The King had made a successful comeback in the early 70’s but by the time 1977 rolled around he was a bloated mess that was abusing prescription drugs in an extreme manner. He was barely able to perform and when he did he was unsteady on his feet and semi-incoherent. This photo shows the shell of the legendary musician as he drove into Graceland just after midnight on August 16th, 1977. He was scheduled to begin a tour the following day but it would never come to be. He was found on his bathroom floor the following afternoon and was pronounced dead at 3:30 PM. A postmortem found loads of drugs in his system which is believed to be the primary cause of death. Through 1977, Elvis was reportedly prescribed more than 10,000 pills. It’s hard to believe that he was even able to drive.
8 Challenger Crew
On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger sat on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral while thousands of spectators looked on in anticipation of liftoff. This picture shows Gregory Jarvis, Francis Scobee, Judith Resnik, Michael Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair and school teacher Christa McAuliffe as the make their way to the shuttle. Despite a few concerns, NASA officials went ahead with the launch. Spectators on the ground watched and cheered as the Challenger lifted off for its 10th mission. Moments later, the cheering turned to horror as the Challenger exploded. Aside from the people on the ground, it is estimated that 17% of the American population witnessed the disaster on television. The main cause of the disaster was a faulty O-ring which caused a burning fuel leak that ignited an external fuel tank. The tragedy caused NASA to discontinue the shuttle program for nearly 3 years.
John F. Kennedy was one of the most popular presidents in American history. Of course, even the most likeable and popular people have their share of detractors and Kennedy certainly had his. As most of us know, Kennedy was in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963 when he was killed in a brutal shooting. It doesn’t really matter whether you think it was a lone gunman acting on his own or a complex conspiracy, Kennedy was driven into a shooting gallery. This photo was taken moments before he was fatally hit driving through Dealey Plaza. Kennedy was initially concerned about the reception that he’d get in Dallas but he was met by a supportive crowd. Nelly Connally told Kennedy “You can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you” to which Kennedy agreed. He was shot dead moments later.
6 Station Nightclub Disaster
Great White’s days of playing to large stadium crowds were over by the time new millennium rolled around. Still, they were pretty popular and they played a gig for a few hundred fans at the Station nightclub in Rhode Island on February 20th, 2003. Everything seemed to be going well up until the moment that this photograph was taken. In this picture, pyrotechnics are being ignited in the background. It was all a planned part of the show but the flames ignited some plastic sound insulation and the fire spread very quickly. What ensued was absolute chaos and panic as throngs of people tried to flee the building. The only problem was that the smoke was very dense and exits were blocked. In the end, 100 died and 230 were injured. To this day it is the fourth deadliest nightclub fire ever in the United States.
5 Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan. She came into power in the late 80s but was booted out of office. She returned to power in 1993 but her reign was marked by controversy and accusations of corruption. Of course, the entire Pakistani political system was plagued by one scandal after another. She was ousted in 1996 and she fled the country only to return in 2007 after being given amnesty on corruption charges. She went back on the campaign trail but things didn’t go well at all. This photo shows Bhutto smiling and waving to a crowd as she left a campaign event in Rawalpindi. Moments later, a gunman opened fire and then a bomb went off. It is uncertain whether it was the bullets or the explosion that ultimately killed her.
4 Lambert Tragedy
On Sunday, August 1st, 1943, a crowd of about 10,000 people gathered at Lambert Field in St. Louis to watch a glider take flight. Several local dignitaries boarded the glider including St. Louis Mayor William Dee Becker who joked to a reporter that “you can die only once” and “we must all die sometime”. Even more ominous was his saying that he was leaving a competent man to take his place if anything should go wrong. The tow plane took the ill-fated glider to 2,000 feet before jettisoning it. Within seconds the scene turned to chaos as the glider’s right wing buckled and fell off. The aircraft plummeted to the earth in front of the terrified crowd and all on board were killed. It was the worst air disaster at the time.
3 Regina Kay Walters
There is a good chance that you have seen this photo but if you haven’t then here’s the horrifying story. Regina was just 14-years-old when she and her 18-year-old boyfriend left Pasadena, Texas. They planned to run away to Mexico when they departed in February of 1990. Unfortunately, they accepted a ride from a trucker named Robert Rhoades. You see, Rhoades was a demented serial killer who had converted the sleeper cab of his rig into a house of horrors in which he tortured and killed his victims. He allegedly killed Regina’s boyfriend but kept the young Walters for several days. This picture was taken by the twisted nut just before he killed the girl. The look of horror in the girl’s eyes is heartbreaking as she is being terrorized for one last time. Rhoades was later arrested and is serving a life without parole.
2 John Lennon
John Lennon was and still is an icon. The former Beatles guitarist was famous for his music and political activism. Mark David Chapman was a nobody that hungered to be famous. He got his wish on December 8th, 1980. Chapman had met Lennon as the musician was leaving his apartment on that fateful evening. This photograph shows John Lennon signing an autograph as Chapman looks on. Lennon then got into his limo and departed. Chapman also left but he later returned with a revolver. Soon after, Lennon returned home. He got out of his limo and walked past Chapman who promptly fired four shots into Lennon’s back. Lennon was dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital. Chapman remained at the scene and read from J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. He was arrested and remains in prison to this day.
1 Ooltgensplaat Wind Turbine Fire
Imagine being stranded over 200 feet in the air on a burning wind turbine? This nightmare scenario played out for two young men in Holland. They were working atop the 67-meter high turbine when a fire broke out. Trapped and frightened, the two are pictured here embracing as the fire fiercely burns out of control. Maybe the only consolation is that the thick black smoke was blowing away from them. As the heat intensified, one of the young men made the bold and fatal decision to jump to his death. After fire crews searched for several hours, the second young man was found burned to death atop the charred tower. There were actually 2 other men involved in this tragic incident. Fortunately, they were able to escape and prevent this being an even sadder tragedy.