One of the few certainties in life is that one day it will come to an end. The Grim Reaper finds each one of us eventually, and all we can really do is hope it’s a peaceful experience at the end of a long life. As we go about our daily lives, however, the specter of death looms everywhere, and if the Final Destination film franchise taught us anything, it’s that pretty much anything can be a death trap with a little imagination.
This list explores the most random, freak accident deaths on record. The poor folks described here had no idea that when they left their homes that fateful day they would meet their deaths in some of the weirdest ways possible. As it turns out, you’re really not safe anywhere, and destiny can get far more darkly creative than any horror film. The stories of these people killed in freak accidents will make you think twice before getting out of bed tomorrow.
• A PE Teacher Got An Up-Close Look At The Business End Of A Javelin
There are fewer more deadly pieces of sports equipment than the javelin. The track and field object is long, heavy, and sharp, so stories of it causing injury from time to time are not that surprising. Death by javelin, however, is a bit more difficult to achieve – that is, unless that javelin passes through the last place you would ever want it to on your body (no, not there – get your mind out of the gutter).
A P.E. teacher in Liverpool, England, got an extreme close-up of a javelin in 1999, and it ultimately took his life. Walking to retrieve the object, which was lodged in the ground and standing upright, 41-year-old Jon Desborough lost his footing and fell on the pole, which jammed right into his eye socket. Desborough passed away after a month-long coma stemming from the accident.
• A Flying Fire Hydrant Nailed A Man In The Head
In 2007, an Oakland, California, man was enjoying a casual stroll with his wife when he met his untimely end in what authorities would later describe as “a million-to-one chance.” 24-year-old Humberto Hernandez was walking down the sidewalk when suddenly an S.U.V. struck a fire hydrant behind him. The impact of the collision dislodged the 200-pound iron object and sent it hurdling through the air, right into the back of Hernandez’s head.
The tremendously heavy fire hydrant was traveling with such velocity that it ricocheted off the man, went through a fence, and landed 20 feet away. Hernandez tragically died on the scene.
• A Football Fan Got Hit By A Flying Lawnmower
In December 1979, 20-year-old football fan John Bowen met his end due to a halftime exhibition gone horribly wrong. Sitting in the lower stands of Shea Stadium, Bowen was taking in a halftime show that involved a demonstration with various novelty-shaped remote control aircraft (similar to modern drones). One such plane was a 40-pound swirling piece of metal in the shape of a lawnmower. The pilot lost control of this uniquely not aerodynamic object, sending it hurdling into the stands.
On the receiving end of this flying, grass-cutting nightmare was Bowen, who was struck in the head and later died from an accident that witnesses described as similar to being attacked by an axe.
• A Novelty Beard Brought A Death That Was Weird
Lamentably, really long beards have become a fashionable facial accessory, but the story of Hans Steininger should provide a cautionary tale that may have rustic types reaching for their Gillettes. Steininger, who lived in Braunau an inn, Austria, was a bit of a local celebrity in the 1500’s for having the longest recorded beard in history. Typically, Steininger kept his absurd growth rolled up in a leather pouch, as it naturally got in the way of everyday tasks, but one day he neglected to do so, and while fleeing from a house fire, he tripped on his beard and snapped his neck, dying instantaneously.
For the avid fans of historical facial hair (and who among us isn’t?), Steininger’s 447-year-old beard is kept on display at the Braunau am inn town museum.
• A Famous Dancer Was Done In By Her Own Scarf
Isadora Duncan was an American expatriate living in Paris, France, who in 1927 met a breathtakingly tragic demise. A San Francisco native, Duncan had gone to the French city – then the cultural capital of the world – to further her career as a dancer. Her eccentric, bohemian style of choreography garnered praise, and she earned fame throughout Europe.
A devoted communist, Duncan frequently donned a very long red scarf to show her support for the party. On a September evening while visiting the city of Nice, however, that accessory would claim her life in an unthinkable automobile accident. Riding as a passenger in her newly purchased convertible sports car, her scarf got caught in the vehicle’s wheel well, which ripped her from the vehicle and threw her to the pavement, killing her instantly.
• A Man Shot A Cactus And Landed In Prickly Peril
The saguaro is a species of cactus that can grow to be an imposing 70 feet in height. These statuesque green monuments dot the American Southwest, and while they sport some rather prickly needles, they aren’t generally perceived as deadly in an ecosystem that also boasts rattlesnakes and scorpions. In 1982, however, one Arizona man found out the hard way that a saguaro can claim one’s life in the desert just the same.
David Grundman and a friend were exploring the desert near Lake Pleasant one afternoon, where, likely in a fit of boredom, the two were looking for things to shoot with a shotgun. The saguaros of the area made apt targets for the would-be marksmen, and their first victim, a mere 10-footer, went down with ease. It was the second, however, a 27-foot cactus, that fought back. After blasting the saguaro from just a few yards out, a large, heavy arm fell on Grundmen and crushed him to death, proving yet again that Mother Nature always wins.
• A Woman Was Killed By A Slippery Floor And An Open Dishwasher
Ah, that valuable kitchen asset we all know and love: the dishwasher. Say what you want about the printing press or penicillin, but the advent of the dishwasher might be mankind’s greatest achievement. Think about it all the disadvantages of doing dishes by hand: you get gross wet food on you, your hands get crinkly and waterlogged, it takes way too long, and more. With all that in mind, the dishwasher is truly a beautiful machine. That is, until that machine acquires a taste for blood.
In May 2003, a UK woman died in a truly bizarre kitchen accident. 31-year-old Jane McDonald was visiting a friend and milling around in her kitchen, when she lost her balance and slipped on a wet floor. Unfortunately for McDonald, her fall was broken by an open dishwasher door that had several knives in it, pointing upward. She was stabbed on impact, and though she was rushed to a nearby hospital, she died shortly thereafter.
• A Woman Got Crushed To Death By A Taco Bell Sign
Taco Bell is a culinary experience that’s best reserved for late night drive-through trips after an evening of similarly regrettable decisions, and as such, it’s a pretty embarrassing place to die. In the case of 49-year-old Diana Durre, who happened to pass away while answering the call of the border, she wasn’t even eating there when it happened, which somehow makes it even worse.
The Chambers, Nebraska, woman was meeting a couple from neighboring Wyoming at the fast food chain to sell them a dog when an unthinkable accident occurred. While waiting under a massive 65-foot sign – the kind you can see from far out on the highway – the huge structure suddenly toppled, landing square on the cab of Durre’s pick-up truck. The crushing impact killed Durre at the scene.
• 19 People Died In A Panic Over A Crocodile On A Plane
Airplane travel comes with some surefire annoyances – cramped quarters, screaming children, the occasional barking dog – but an escaped crocodile is a pretty inventive problem to face while cruising at 20,000 feet. In June 2014, 19 people died when a small plane went down during a routine flight over the Congo. The lone survivor of the crash described the events that led to the plane’s fall from the sky, and it’s one of the more uniquely strange stories in aviation history.
Apparently, a passenger had boarded the aircraft with a crocodile in tow, and somehow the reptile got loose during the flight. As the passengers and crew justifiably panicked, their shifting weight led to the plane’s engines stalling, ultimately bringing it down in a fiery wreck.
Think about that next you’re irritated by a toddler kicking the back of your seat.
• Eight People Were Washed Away In A Deadly Tidal Wave Of Beer
Alcohol has certainly claimed a lot of human lives. Be it the result of drinking one’s self to death, or a fatal drunk driving accident, drinking liquor is known for life-threatening risks. The phrase “drowning in alcohol,” however, is typically a figurative one used to describe the detrimental effects of drinking – not, you know, literally drowning. Believe it or not, though, it has indeed happened.
On October 17, 1814, a particular boozy disaster occurred on the streets of London. A three-story vat containing 570 tons of beer burst and released a tidal wave of suds from the brewery that housed it. The surging current of porter laid waste to what was in its immediate path, and killed eight people in the poverty-stricken tenements it consumed.