Friday, June 6, 2008

A list of strange, mysterious, unusual and sometimes funny deaths — excerpts from Wikipedia

These deaths are not noted in Darwin awards. Yet they are well worth mentioning.
Caution! reading this list can cause multiple phobias — you risk to develop phobias to laughter, food consumption or insomnia. You will be afraid to hold your bladder. Don't say I didn't warn you.

My comments are in green.

  • 458 BC: Aeschylus, Greek playwright, was killed when an eagle dropped a live tortoise on him, mistaking his bald head for a stone. The tortoise survived.
  • 270 BC: Philitas of Cos, poet and critic reportedly wasted away and died of insomnia while brooding about the Liar paradox.
  • 336: Arius, the heretical priest who precipitated the Council of Nicea, passed wind and evacuated his internal organs.
  • Martin I of Aragon died from a lethal combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughing.
  • 1599: The Burmese king Nanda Bayin reportedly "laughed to death when informed, by a visiting Italian merchant, that Venice was a free state without a king."
  • 1601: Tycho Brahe, according to legend, died of complications resulting from a strained bladder at a banquet. It would have been extremely bad etiquette to leave the table before the meal was finished, so he stayed until he became fatally ill. This version of events has since been brought into question as other causes of death (murder by Johannes Kepler, suicide, and lead poisoning among others) have come to the fore
  • 1660: The Scottish aristocrat Thomas Urquhart, polymath and first translator of Rabelais into English, is said to have died laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken the throne.
  • 1751: Julien Offray de La Mettrie, the author of L'Homme machine, a major materialist and sensualist philosopher died of over eating at a feast given in his honor. His philosophical adversaries suggested that by doing so, he had contradicted his theoretical doctrine with the effect of his practical actions.
  • 1771: King of Sweden, Adolf Frederick, died of digestion problems on February 12, 1771 after having consumed a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, which was topped off with 14 servings of his favorite dessert: semla served in a bowl of hot milk. He is thus remembered by Swedish schoolchildren as "the king who ate himself to death."
  • 1830: William Huskisson, statesman and financier, was crushed to death by the world's first mechanically powered passenger train (Stephenson's Rocket), at its public opening.
  • 1865: Lord Francis Douglas died after falling 4000 feet, having completed the first summit of the Matterhorn.
  • 1899: Felix Faure, French president, died of a stroke while receiving oral sex in his office. — Bill Clinton should be happy he got away only with a political scandal :)
  • 1911: Jack Daniel, founder of the Tennessee whiskey distillery, died of blood poisoning six years after receiving a toe injury when he kicked his safe in anger at being unable to remember its combination. — poor Jack. Note to myself: never kick anything after drinking whiskey (especially Jack Daniel's Black Label)
  • 1912: Franz Reichelt, tailor, fell to his death off the first deck of the Eiffel Tower while testing his invention, the coat parachute. It was his first ever attempt with the parachute and he had told the authorities in advance he would test it first with a dummy.— Yeah, he was quite a dummy, Franz Reichelt, parachute inventor :)
  • 1916: Grigori Rasputin, Russian mystic, was poisoned while dining with a political enemy, and supposedly he was given enough poison to kill three men his size. When he did not die, one assassin sneaked up behind him and shot him in the head, and while checking Grigori's pulse he was grabbed by the neck by the mystic and was strangled. He proceeded to run away, while the other assassins chased. They caught up to him after he was finally felled by three shots during the chase. The pursuers bludgeoned him, then threw him into a frozen river. When his body washed ashore, an autopsy showed the cause of death to be drowning. There is now some doubt about the credibility of this account, though.Doctor: I don't know what did you guys do to him, but he will live.
  • 1923: George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon became the first to die from the alleged King Tut's Curse after a mosquito bite on his face became seriously infected.
  • 1927: Isadora Duncan, dancer, died of accidental strangulation and broken neck when one of the long scarves she was known for caught on the wheel of a car in which she was a passenger.
  • 1932: Eben Byers, died of radiation poisoning after having consumed large quantities of a popular patent medicine containing radium.
  • 1935: Baseball player Len Koenecke was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher by the crew of an aircraft he had chartered, after provoking a fight with the pilot while the plane was in the air. I will never again slap stewardesses on their asses!
  • 1943: Critic Alexander Woollcott suffered a fatal heart attack during an on-air discussion about Adolf Hitler. — Yeah, never underestimate nazis.
  • 1945: Scientist Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. accidentally dropped a brick of tungsten carbide onto a sphere of plutonium while working on the Manhattan Project. This caused the plutonium to come to criticality; Daghlian died of radiation poisoning, becoming the first person to die in a criticality accident.
  • 1946: Louis Slotin, chemist and physicist, died of radiation poisoning after being exposed to lethal amounts of ionized radiation. He died in a very similar way as Harry K. Daghlian, Jr., from dropping a block of material on the same sphere of plutonium by accident. The sphere of plutonium was nicknamed the Demon core.
  • 1955: Margo Jones, theater director, was 43 when she was killed by the carpet in her Dallas apartment. She died July 26 from exposure to carbon tetrachloride fumes from the newly cleaned carpet.
  • .1972: Leslie Harvey, guitarist of Stone the Crows was electrocuted on stage by a live microphone.
  • 1978: Claude Francois, a French pop singer, was electrocuted when he tried to change a light bulb whilst standing in his bathtub which was full of water at the time.
  • 1978: Kurt Goedel, the Austrian/American mathematician died of starvation when his wife was hospitalized. Goedel suffered from extreme paranoia and refused to eat food prepared by anyone else. He was 65 pounds when he died. His death certificate reported that he died of "malnutrition and inanition caused by personality disturbance" in Princeton Hospital on January 14, 1978.
  • 1979: Robert Williams, a worker at a Ford Motor Co. plant, was the first known man to be killed by a robot.
  • 1981: Carl McCunn, in March 1981, paid a bush pilot to drop him at a remote lake near the Coleen River in Alaska to photograph wildlife, but had not arranged for the pilot to pick him up again in August. Rather than starve, McCunn shot himself in the head. His body was found in February 1982.
  • 1983: Author Tennessee Williams died at the age of 71 after he choked on an eyedrop bottle cap in his room at the Hotel Elysee in New York. He would routinely place the cap in his mouth, lean back, and place his eyedrops in each eye. Williams' lack of gag response may have been due to drugs and alcohol effects.
  • 1984: Jon-Erik Hexum, an American television actor, died after he shot himself in the head with a prop gun during a break in filming. Hexum apparently did not realize that blanks use paper or plastic wadding to seal gun powder into the shell, and that this wadding is propelled out of the barrel of the gun with enough force to cause severe injury or death if the weapon is fired at point-blank range.
  • 1993: Garry Hoy, a Toronto lawyer, fell to his death after he threw himself through the glass wall on the 24th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre in order to prove the glass was "unbreakable."
  • 1998: In Congo a soccer game between the home and a visiting team ended when every player on the visiting team were struck by a fork bolt of lightning; killing them all instantly, while the home team was unharmed. This was due to the visiting team having metal studs on their soccer cleats causing each member of the team to become their own living conductor of electricity.
  • 2003: Brandon Vedas died of a drug overdose while engaged in an Internet chat, as shown on his webcam.
  • 2003: Timothy Treadwell, an American environmentalist who had lived in the wilderness among bears for thirteen summers in a remote region in Alaska, was killed and partially consumed by a bear, along with his girlfriend Amie Huguenard. The incident is described in Werner Herzog's documentary film Grizzly Man.
  • 2005: 28-year-old South Korean, Lee Seung Seop, collapsed of fatigue and died after playing StarCraft for almost 50 consecutive hours in an Internet cafe. —My personal record was over 32 hours of leading an exp group while making my last, 200th level in a Sloth MUD game. I survived. I did smoke breaks :)
  • 2007: Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old woman from Sacramento, died of water intoxication while trying to win a Wii console in a KDND 107.9 "The End" radio station's "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest, which involved drinking large quantities of water without urinating.

Source: Wikipedia article.
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