Everyone hopes that when they die it is peacefully in their sleep, or surrounded by their loved ones. But not matter how you meet your maker you can rest assured it probably won’t be like these people did.
The Death of the Party
The 16th century Dane Tycho Brahe is famous for his work in astronomy, and the fact that he lost his nose in a duel. Despite his interesting life, his death may be even more so. While historians are divided about how he met his fate, legend has it that he died because he just couldn’t bring himself to leave a party. In those days it was considered bad form to get up before a meal was finished, and banquets could take hours. Brahe filled up on wine but didn’t get up to use the bathroom, until eventually his bladder burst. As uncouth as it might have been to leave during dinner, we can’t imagine it was much better to die in the middle of one.
So Funny You Could Just Die
Numerous people in history are said to have died from laughter. Just in case you’re too afraid to ever watch your favorite sitcom again, most of these people had underlying heart conditions. In 1975, Englishman Alex Mitchell laughed for almost half an hour straight at an episode of The Goonies and then collapsed. His widow bore the show no ill will, though, sending a thank you note for making his last minutes so enjoyable. In 2003, a Thai man was having the funniest dream ever. He started laughing in his sleep and even though his wife tried to wake him up he died while still unconscious and still entertained by whatever was going on in his head.
The Ultimate Gamer
People all over the world are obsessed with computer games, to the point that they lose sleep to keep playing them. But rarely are people so engrossed in a videogame that they forget to eat, sleep, or look away from the screen for days at a time. But one South Korean man did just that in 2005, playing Starcraft at an internet café for 50 hours straight. He had already been fired from his job since he forgot to show up once he started playing the game, so he had all the time in the world. Witnesses said he only paused to use the bathroom and to take power naps. The postmortem indicated he had died from heart failure due to exhaustion.
Making a Point
Here’s a tip: if you work in a skyscraper, stay away from the windows, even if they are supposed to be unbreakable. In 1993, Gary Hoy, a Canadian lawyer, decided to prove to an office full of people that the windows on their building were really solid. This was especially ridiculous since they worked on the 24th floor. But Gary did prove his point, because when he threw himself at a window he just bounced right back. His big mistake was doing it again, just for emphasis. While the window itself stayed solid, it popped out of its frame and he plummeted to his death.
Old West Justice
Lots of people were shot to death in the old west, but very few of them did it to themselves. Clement Vallandigham had an illustrious career in politics although his opinions on the Civil War were so controversial he was actually expelled from the Union. After the war was over he returned to the law and in 1871 was defending a man accused of shooting another in a bar fight. Vallandigham wanted to prove to the jury that there was a possibility that the deceased had actually accidentally shot himself. To do this he put a pistol in his pocket and recreated the man’s movements in the fight. He proved his point a bit too well, as the gun went off and killed him. His client was acquitted.
Crocs on a Plane
Tiny planes are dangerous. So are crocodiles. Combine the two and you have a recipe for disaster. In 2010 a plane crashed in the Congo and originally it appeared like they had run out of fuel. But the one survivor of the crash told a different story. During the flight a crocodile escaped from someone’s hand luggage. (He was probably smuggling it to sell illegally.) Because crocodile have big pointy teeth, the 20 people on board panicked and ran to the front of the plane. The sudden shift in weight threw the plane off balance and the pilots were unable to regain control. Incidentally, the croc survived the crash.
Not Monkeying Around
Parts of India have a big monkey problem. As the population on the subcontinent explodes, humans and animals are living in much closer proximity, and the monkeys are fighting back. Attacks are relatively common in Delhi, but deaths less so. In 2007, however, the Deputy Mayor of Delhi himself was set upon. He was relaxing on his balcony when four monkeys surrounded him slowly creeping closer before they attacked. Witnesses say he tried to fight back with a newspaper, but they somehow managed to push him over the edge and he died of wound sustained from the fall. Local politicians said more had to be done to curb the “simian menace.” This sounds a lot like how Planet of the Apes probably started.
Sexed to Death
It’s hard enough being married to one person, so the pressure of keeping half a dozen spouses happy is probably almost unbearable. One man in Nigeria was literally forced to have sex with his six wives until it killed him. Last year a man named Uroko Onoja came home at 3am and decided he wanted some alone time with his youngest wife. But his five older wives felt he had been spending too much time with her and invaded the room armed with knives. They demanded their husband have sex with all of them, one at a time, right then and there, starting with the youngest. Onoja managed to do the deed with four of them, but as his fifth wife walked towards the bed he stopped breathing, killed from the sheer exertion of keeping his women satisfied.
Eat Right, Die Anyway
A lot of people are obsessed with eating healthy and exercising, in the hopes that they can put off the inevitable a bit longer. But in some cases such dedication can be just as deadly as sitting on the couch all day eating potato chips. In 1974, Englishman Basil Brown died of an overdose of carrot juice. Brown, whose healthy eating regime involved drinking one gallon of the stuff a day, had had an orange tint to his skin for some time. But drinking one gallon of almost anything other than water a day isn’t great for your liver, and after years of the practice it finally shut down.
One Gun Salute
John Kendrick had every reason to be happy as he sailed into Honolulu harbor. He had spent years on the sea, finding new trade routes, making friends with native peoples, and sometimes fighting them, but usually winning. Now he and his crew were coming to Hawaii for a victory celebration. As his boat sailed into the harbor, other boats fired their cannons as a welcome salute. Normally this involved removing the actual cannonballs before lighting the fuse, so no one would get hurt. One boat forgot this basic safety instruction though, and a cannonball ripped through Kendrick’s ship, killing him and several crew members. Definitely not the best victory parade ever seen.
If you want to know about crazy things that happened after death, check out Kathy’s new book, Funerals to Die For.