Facts About Accidental Deaths

May 22, 2024 | Grace Cameron

Facts About Accidental Deaths

We don't fully understand death--why it comes for us all, or what happens next.

That being said, when a person dies of old age there is at least some feeling that it makes sense. Accidental deaths often leave us shocked, uncomfortable, and confused.

History is littered with accounts of accidental deaths. But in cases where people die because of their own ill-advised actions, it leaves you wondering, "what were they thinking?" Here are 34 facts about accidental deaths through the ages.

1. The Show Must Go On

Indonesian singer Irma Bule, famous for sharing the stage with live snakes, was bitten by a king cobra during a performance. The 29-year-old refused treatment and passed on in the middle of the concert.

Accidental Deaths

2. Photo Cessation

Two men were fatally trampled while taking selfies with a wild elephant in Kenya. During the photo op they kept touching the face of the animal, who promptly trampled them and then tried to bury them in twigs. 

Indian man and an elephantRyan Paul Lobo, Getty Images

3. Beaver Tales

A fisherman from Belarus wanted to take a photo with a camera-shy beaver—who ended up taking his life. The man, 60, tried to grab the beaver but passed on when the animal bit his leg, severing a large artery.

Accidental Deaths FactsPixabay


4. For the Dogs

In 475 BC, Greek philosopher Heraclitus just wanted to cure his dropsy when he smeared himself with cow manure. His dogs turned on him instead, devouring him.

Accidental Deaths FactsWikimedia Commons


5. Snake Charmer

A 31-year-old man in Mumbai, India, was bitten and passed on after kissing a cobra that he had rescued.

Accidental Deaths FactsPixabay


6. Jumping to Conclusion

A thrill-seeking young man lost his life when he forgot that his taped up, homemade bungee cord was designed to stretch. The man taped together multiple bungee cords, which he then cut and measured to the exact height of the fall. Then, tying the self-fashioned cord to an anchor, he took a leap to his demise.

Accidental Deaths FactsFlickr


7. A Roach for a Python

Edward Archbold was well on his way to winning the top prize in a cockroach-eating content. Instead, he choked on arthropod body parts.

Accidental Deaths FactsPexels


8. No Wii

Jennifer Strange entered a Hold Your Wee for a Wii competition because she badly wanted to win a Nintendo Wii console. Strange, 28, perished from water intoxication during the competition.

Accidental Deaths FactsShutterstock


9. Saturated

Downing 4 gallons of water a day to battle stomach cancer, Tina Christopherson drank herself to the grave from water intoxication.

Accidental Deaths FactsPexels


10. He Should’ve Seen It Coming

An overdose of vitamin A lead to the demise of English man Basil Brown in 1974. The 48-year-old health food advocate succumbed to severe liver damage after drinking 10 gallons of carrot juice in 10 days, which resulted in the deadly dose of vitamin A.

Accidental Deaths FactsPexels


11. Loyal to the End

Austrian/American logician and mathematician Kurt Gödel suffered from paranoia and would only eat food prepared by his wife. So, when she was hospitalized, he refused eat and starved.

Accidental Deaths FactsFlickr


12. King-Sized

Known as the king who ate himself to death, Swedish King Adolf Frederick perished after polishing off an enormous meal, which he then closed with 14 servings of his favorite dessert. The February 12, 1771 meal included lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring, champagne and dessert.

Accidental Deaths FactsWikimedia Commons



13. He Wanted to Live Forever

In 210 BC, Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China and the man who owned the Terracotta Army, took mercury pills because he wanted to live forever. Well, he was poisoned by the mercury and passed on.

Accidental Deaths FactsWikimedia Commons


14. Blind Spot

Geoffrey Haywood had been pretending to be blind in order to gain pity before he fell into a ditch and drowned. The 65 year old from Newport, South Wales failed to spot the ditch.

Accidental Deaths FactsShutterstock


15. Once Bitten…

American physician Jesse William Lazear deliberately allowed mosquitoes infected with Yellow Fever to bite him. He passed on in 1900, proving his point that the disease was indeed transmitted by mosquitoes. But also, you know, he passed on.

Africa factsWikipedia


16. Mad Scientist

In his quest for a long life, genius scientist Alexander Bogdanov passed on in 1928 from an experiment gone wrong. Believing that blood transfusions would make him live longer, the Russian physician performed the ground-breaking procedure on himself. He had a bad reaction and perished.

Accidental Deaths FactsWikipedia


17. Arsenic and Odd Tastes

Swedish scientist Carl Wilhelm Scheele poisoned himself in 1786 because he insisted on tasting the chemicals he came across. He succumbed to lead, hydrofluoric acid, arsenic, and various other poisons.

Accidental Deaths FactsWikimedia Commons


18. Take This Snore and Shove it

Mark Gleeson suffocated in his sleep because he inserted two tampons in his nostrils before going to bed. It’s believed that the 26-year-old from Hampshire, England was just trying to cure his snoring problem. No word on if it helped.

Accidental Deaths FactsShutterstock


19. Nosedive

In 1912, Franz Reichelt jumped off the Eiffel Tower in Paris to test his flying device. It did not fly, and he fell to his end.

Accidental Deaths FactsWikimedia Commons


20. Great Leap

To prove that he was a god, Greek philosopher Empedocles jumped into Mount Etna in 430 BC, an active volcano. Spoiler: he wasn't a god.

Accidental Deaths FactsGetty Images


21. Oops

Ivan McGuire, an experienced skydiver, filmed his own demise in 1988 when he packed a camera but forgot his parachute.

Accidental Deaths FactsShutterstock


22. Footloose

Greg Austin Gingrich slipped and fell to his doom in the Grand Canyon as a result of joking and pretending to fall to his doom.

Accidental Deaths FactsPexels


23. The Defense Rests

Defending his client on a murder charge, lawyer Clement Vallandigham instead fatally shot himself. He accidentally fired the weapon while demonstrating to the court how the victim might’ve accidentally perished. The defendant, however, was cleared.

Accidental Deaths FactsShutterstock


24. Paneful Demise

Lawyer Garry Hoy voluntarily threw himself against his Toronto office window in 1993 and plunged 24 floors to his demise. Hoy had been bragging to visitors about the unbreakable glass, and decided to demonstrate as he had many times before. Hoy was still vindicated, though the glass didn't break, it popped out of the window frame.

Accidental Deaths FactsShutterstock


25. Prickly Situation

David Grundman was fatally crushed by a 4-foot piece of cactus in 1982. Grundham was shooting at cacti in the Arizona desert when he got too close to a 26-foot tall Saguaro Cactus. The 4-foot limb broke off and fell on him.

Accidental Deaths FactsMax Pixel


26. Not So Bright Idea

A man blew himself up when he tried to turn a grenade into fireworks. He was reportedly trying to save money and got the bright idea to use a chainsaw to crack open the grenade to get to the gunpowder inside. Sparks flew. The end.

Teacher Confiscated FactsPixabay


27. Deadly Seal

In 1667, James Betts stuffed himself in a cupboard to hide from his girlfriend’s father. He suffocated after his lover, Elizabeth Spencer, sealed the cupboard.

Accidental Deaths FactsShutterstock


28. Blown out of Proportion

Gary Ashbrook passed on with a rubber contraceptive over his head alongside the three empty cans of nitrous oxide he had used to inflate the contraceptive. Ashbrook pulled the rubber over his head to get a sensual high but suffocated in the process.

Charles II of Spain factsShutterstock


29. Passionate Tumble

The undressed bodies of Brent Tyler and Chelsea Tumbleston were found on a South Carolina roadside in 2007. The love birds, both 21, had tumbled 50 feet from a roof top.

Accidental Deaths FactsShutterstock


30. Too Much to Handle

Threatened by knives and sticks by five of his six wives, a Nigerian businessman lost his life trying to please them. After catching Uroko Onoja in bed with his youngest wife, the five other wives demanded similar treatment. He stopped breathing after doing the deed with four of them.

Accidental Deaths FactsGetty Images


31. Riding the Rails

Two inebriated men in Rotterdam, Holland, met their death after egging on each other in a test of courage. One placed himself between the tracks, expecting the train to simply pass over him. The other knelt next to the track, his head close to where he thought the train's profile would be. Seconds later they were slain by the train rolling in at 80 miles an hour.

Accidental Deaths FactsFlickr


32. At-home Exorcism

Takuya Nagaya’s parents were convinced that he was possessed after he started slithering on the floor, claiming to be a snake. His father spent two days headbutting and biting his son to drive out the snake. Instead, the 23-year-old lost his life.

Accidental Deaths FactsFlickr



33. Soaking Hot

Colin Mathaniel Scott slipped and fell into a boiling pool of acidic water during a graduation vacation at Yellowstone National Park. The next day when workers made the precarious journey to the spring, there were no remains. Scott, 23, had ignored safety signs, wandering off limits to find a private hot spring in which he could soak.

Accidental Deaths FactsWikipedia


34. Toss and Turn

Sidney Gonzalez, 20, met her end when she tumbled from the top of a moving van along with the king-size mattress she was holding down with her body weight.

Accidental Deaths FactsFlickr


Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9


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