via Lazer Horse
There’s nothing funny about death really. But there is a lot of certainty to it. There’s not a person who’s ever lived that hasn’t had to face it and roll under it. I compiled this list of people who’ve died in odd ways as some kind of catharsis I suppose. It’s easy to over think death but the fact of the matter is, it will come when it’s good and ready and there’s little you can do about it.
You can keep fit and healthy, that’s a good idea. Eating well, sleeping well and behaving yourself may prolong your earthly existence; but soya curd, pulses, antioxidants, morning runs and Quorn burgers won’t stop a truck, a frozen column of wee falling from a aeroplane, a massive impromptu sink hole, al-Qaeda or malaria.
I think it’s OK to laugh behind your hands at some of the following oddball dispatch methods. Laughing at the way people have conked out relieves a bit of the pressure. We’re not alone in dicing with Dr Death, and hey, maybe it’ll lower your blood pressure a tiny touch. Who knows?
1) Draco c.620 BC
Draco’s laws were the first written constitution of Athens and were posted up on wooden tablets so that no one could claim ignorance.
Some of his laws were pretty harsh though, for instance the punishment for stealing a cabbage (among many other things) was execution. When asked why execution was the punishment for most crimes Draco said that the smaller crimes deserved the death penalty and there was no worse punishment to give out for the more serious crimes.
So the manner of Draco’s death seems a bit odd: he is said to have died under a shower of gifts. The people of Greece threw hats and cloaks at him until he was buried alive. That seems like an odd way to go for someone who’s name became synonymous with overly harsh rules.
2) Aeschylus 455 BC
Aeschylus the great author of Greek tragedies met a pretty odd demise. The legend goes that a tortoise was dropped on him by an eagle. The eagle mistook his head for a rock.
To make this tale even more brilliant, Pliny claimed that at the time of his death Aeschylus had been staying outdoors as much as possible due to a prophetic warning that he would be killed by something falling from above. Brilliant.
3) Chrysippus 206 bBC
This jovial philosopher is recorded as having died laughing. Apparently he saw a donkey eating his figs so he ordered his servant to bring the donkey some wine to help wash the figs down. The mirth of the event was too much for old Chrysippus to deal with and he keeled over with joy, permanently.
4) Hans Steiniger – 1567
Steiniger was an important figure in Branau, Austria. He was the equivalent of a modern mayor or governor. Steniger had a massive beard that stretched to over 4.5 feet in length. He generally kept his facial pet rolled up in a leather pouch, but the one day he neglected to keep it tucked away he tripped over it. He died of a broken neck.
5) Clement Vallandigham – 1871
Vallandigham was a hot shot lawyer and controversial politician. His anti-war stance at a time of war got him into regular trouble, many didn’t appreciate his “habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy”. Tut tut.
Whilst defending a man being charged with a bar brawl murder, he decided to demonstrate how the victim may have shot himself as he drew his pistol from a kneeling position. Vallandigham thought the gun was empty, he was wrong. The trigger snagged on his clothing and was discharged into his gut.
The defendant was cleared thanks to this water tight demonstration, but Vallandigham died from the wound in his abdomen. Surgeons failed to find the errant shot and his intestines got infected.
6) Isadora Duncan – 1927
Isadora was a professional dancer. She was born in California but spent her life in Western Europe and the Soviet Union. Due to her pro-Soviet tendencies she was permanently exiled from the US and spent her life from the age of 22-50 performing throughout Europe.
Isadora was a fan of long flowing scarves, but this passion would be the end of her. Whilst being driven through Nice, her scarf got entangled in the spokes of the car wheel and broke her neck. Some reports say that she was strangled so severely that she was almost decapitated and others reported that the force threw her from the car. One thing that they all agree on is that she was killed by an incredibly unlucky, lethal scarf/wheel interface.
7) Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev – 1971
These three chaps died of decompression just before reentry when their Soyuz-11 spacecraft depressurized. These three Russian chaps are still the only humans to have died in space.
8) Kurt Gödel – 1978
Gödel, an Austrian born logician, was a magnificently bright spark; but like many bright sparks his intelligence eventually gave way to madness. At just 25 he published his two incompleteness theorems which made huge waves in the field of logic.
If you want to know what his first theorem was all about, good luck to you, here’s a snap shot that I copied and pasted because my brain couldn’t get any kind of purchase on it. His theorem states that…
…for any self-consistent recursive axiomatic system powerful enough to describe the arithmetic of the natural numbers (for examplePeano arithmetic), there are true propositions about the naturals that cannot be proved from the axioms…
As Gödel aged he suffered increasingly deeply from paranoia. He was convinced he was being poisoned. Gödel wouldn’t trust food prepared by anyone but his wife Adele. In 1978 Adele was hospitalised for six months, and Gödel starved to death. At the end he weighed just 30kg.
9) Robert Williams – 1979
10) David Grundman – 1982
Next we’re in the region of Lake Placid, Arizona. Grundman was having a great time shooting a 26 ft tall Saguaro Cactus at close range. The cactus took exception to this brutality and a huge four foot limb detached and fell on Grundman, fatally wounding him.
11) Garry Hoy – 1993
Hoy was a well respected and well liked Canadian lawyer and philanthropist. He had a party trick: he liked to throw himself at the inside of the windows of the Toronto-Dominion Centre to prove to people that the glass was indestructible. One day he carried out the gag on the 24th floor in front of a bunch of students at an office party. The glass didn’t break but the window frame gave way leaving him to free fall to the floor.
Just so you know, the technical term for this sort of death is ‘accidental autodefenestration’. A Toronto Detective reported at the time:
At this Friday night party, Mr. Hoy did it again and bounced off the glass the first time. However, he did it a second time and this time crashed right through the middle of the glass.
12) Jennifer Strange – 2007
Some people will go to great lengths to win a prize and Jennifer went about as far as you can go. As part of a competiton called “Hold Your Wee For A Wii” on KDND Radio she held her wee whilst imbibing ever increasing quantities of water. Fun times!
Neither herself nor the professional radio DJs realised that you can actually die from drinking too much water. And that’s what happened to Jennifer. All for a console.
Excess water kills you by jazzing up the delicate balance of electrolytes in your body. Fluid shifts through cell walls and causes the cells to swell. In the brain this brings an increase in pressure which isn’t ideal in the confined quarters of the skull; it can be fatal if the wrong bits and bobs are squashed too hard.
13) Oscar Otero Aguilar – 2014
This is possibly the first selfie death, the first of many I fear. Aguilar, from Mexico accidentally shot himself whilst posing for a selfie. Woops.
I’m not sure there’s really a take home message for this piece. I could say something like – “be careful”. But, no one ever will, and what kind of a life would it be if we were careful all of the time? I guess the take home message is: enjoy it whilst it lasts, and never touch guns.