A Brief History
On November 20, 1518, Sir Marmaduke Constable, a Tudor Era English courtier and soldier, died in a most unusual way. One may even say, in an idiotic way. This gentleman died when he drank a glass of water and swallowed the frog that was in the water! We previously told you about “10 More Idiotic Ways to Die,” which itself was a sequel to our other articles, “10 Horrible Ways to Die,” “10 People Who Were the First to Die 10 Different Ways,” and “9 Innovative Ways to Die,” and today we continue to explore the many ways people have found to reach the end of the road, buy the farm, kick the bucket, sleep the dirt nap, etc.
1. Death while texting and driving.
Ever since people have become addicted to their PDA’s and cell phones, sending and receiving text messages has become the bane of other pedestrians and drivers that have to look out for the goofs that have their face buried in their electronic device when they are supposed to be watching where they are going! Almost every day I watch other drivers, including big rig truck drivers, drifting out of their lane or driving in a wavy uneven course with the head down and the fingers flying. Often when I am being driven nuts by a driver who is speeding up and slowing down, thereby messing up the flow of traffic, when I get alongside the offending vehicle I see the driver, face down, texting away! An incredible 1 out of 4 traffic accidents in the US is caused by texting and driving! That overwhelming statistic is a whopping 6 times the number of traffic accidents caused by drunk driving. About 3500 Americans per year have been killed in texting and driving accidents the past few years. Add these numbers to the answering and placing of calls on a cell phone and you have a real problem! Unfortunately, many of those killed are the ones hit by texting drivers.
2. Walking while texting.
Distracted driving is an obviously dangerous activity, but distracted walking can also cost you your life. Motor vehicle vs. pedestrian deaths have gone up in recent years to about 6000 pedestrians deaths per year, despite improved headlights, drunk driving initiatives, improved brakes and better street lighting. Why would pedestrian deaths be going up? Because pedestrians have their noses in their cell phones/electronic devices instead of watching where they are going! (And because drivers are also playing with their electronic messaging devices.) Just watch a bunch of pedestrians at any given time in a public place, and you will see just how many are staring down instead of paying attention to where they are going and what is around them. The shocking thing is that MORE pedestrians are not dying! “Bottom line: Texting while walking is especially risky in urban environments.” (USA Today, February 28, 2018) And yes, people have walked off cliffs, sometimes to their death, because of texting while walking. Another genius took a long walk off a short pier and ended up in the ocean, though did not die in this instance. Despite many state and local laws that ban texting while driving, we have yet to see a law against texting while walking, and the idiotic deaths continue…
3. Pokémon Go!
Playing a video game while walking or driving is quite similar to texting or dialing while you are supposed to be paying attention to something else, and the worst of the game related dangers to your health and life seems to be the latest fad, Pokémon Go. With 19 deaths and 60 serious injuries attributed to this common Japanese created game, the casualty count has its own website! Drivers playing the game and pedestrians not watching out for traffic have been killed while paying more attention to their little screen than the real world, 2 players walked right off a cliff while being too busy watching the game to notice the land ending, a player was shot after breaking into a house in order to catch a virtual animal (OMG!), a player was killed by security guards, a player fell off a motorcycle, and numerous players have been mugged while not paying attention or involved in fights. One player lost a leg when he stumbled onto railroad tracks and got run over by a train. (He sued the railroad but lost. He didn’t have a leg to stand on…)
4. Hunting accidents.
Hunters manage to get killed in a variety of ways, perhaps killed by enraged animals, accidentally shot by other hunters, killed in ATV or snowmobile accidents, tripping and falling on their own gun, or even being shot by their own gun while dropping it from a tree stand. Tree stands are also a favorite way for hunters to die, with falls from tree stands taking their toll each year, including a 66 year old in South Carolina just this year. In October of 2019, an Arkansas hunter shot a deer with his muzzle loading firearm, downing the magnificent buck. When the hunter approached the “dead” animal to gut his prize, the stunned cervid regained its senses and attacked the hunter, piercing the poor guy with its antlers. The 66 year old hunter, gored and in pain, managed to use his cell phone to call for help. Rescue workers were unable to save his life. Every so often people get killed by plant eating animals such as deer, buffalo and Moose. In November of 2019, a hunter in China contracted Bubonic Plague (aka, Black Death) from a rabbit or hare that he had killed and eaten, though he is not believed to have died.
5. Poaching in the wrong place.
The term “hunting” implies legal pursuit of game, while “poaching” is the illegal pursuit of animals. Poachers are just as liable to get killed while pursuing game as legitimate hunters, and the year 2019 was filled with such examples. In April of 2019, 5 poachers in Kruger National Park, South Africa, were after highly endangered Rhinos, seeking to gather Rhino horn for sale to morons that think powdered Rhino horn has magical properties. One of the men did not make it out alive, as he was killed by an elephant (do NOT mess with elephants!) and then eaten by lions for good measure. Never expect people to learn from the mistakes of others, as only a couple months later more poachers in South Africa after Rhino horn were attacked by lions, leaving one of their number dead and eaten. We say one was eaten because the remains of one guy were found, but extra sets of gloves and backpacks were also found, so the number of victims might have been higher. In November of 2019, Zimbabwe had their own version of poachers vs. lions (the lions won), when at least 8 poachers were attacked by a superior force (20) of lions, leaving 5 men dead and 3 wounded.
6. Stay inside the airplane!
Ever since airplane designers moved past the original Wright Brothers’ design, people have been supposed to ride INSIDE of the aircraft, not outside! Still, sometimes people wind up on the outside, either by accident or because of poor choices. In 2018 an unfortunate airline passenger was in a 737 jetliner at 32,000 feet up when an engine blew up, throwing metal through her window. The hapless woman was sucked partially out of the plane, and though pulled back in by heroic other passengers, ended up dying of her injuries. In this case, it was certainly not the fault of the victim. In November of 2019, an American airman managed to fall out of a C-130 cargo plane flying 1500 feet high over the Gulf of Mexico, presumably to his death. The airman was luckily wearing a parachute, and managed to open the canopy before hitting the water, but searchers were unable to find him. Sometimes people try to hitch a ride on an airplane, often by trying to hide in the wheel wells of the giant jet liners. Unfortunately for the stowaways, they face death by freezing at the high altitudes traveled by the planes or by falling out, either on take off or landing.
7. Snorkeler killed by Marlin.
When we think of swimmers, snorkelers, scuba divers and surfers getting killed by a fish, we usually think of some sort of shark or another being responsible for the death. In this case, a 39 year old woman in Indonesia (a tourist) was enjoying the beautiful water, snorkeling with her husband when a giant Black Marlin attacked with its spear like bill, killing the poor lady. It is unknown why the big fish attacked, as the Marlin is not equipped to eat a person and the woman was not bothering the beast. Messing with anything that has a sword or spear for a nose is not a good idea.
8. Cows, the Land Shark!
Everyone (just about) knows that sharks are dangerous critters and sometimes kill and even eat people. In fact, numerous movies have been made about shark attacks, too many to list. But did you know cows kill more people than sharks? Yup! About 5 humans per year are known to be killed by sharks, and the deadly Horse manages to kill about 20 people per annum, but the deadly, dangerous, Cow wipes out around 22 human victims per year! Cows are big animals (1000 to 2000+ pounds typically) and hitting one with your car is considerably worse than hitting a deer (100 to 150 pounds typically). Cows, especially Bulls, the male variety of cattle, can be pretty ornery and might trample you or gore you to death. Just ask your local toreador, but do not ask Marian Clode of England. She was killed in 2016 by a rogue cow.
9. Dogs, the other Land Shark!
Reportedly, the Dachshund is the most ferocious of the canine companions we (and President Trump) call “dogs,” and we are glad that most of the really big dogs are not so ferocious. St. Bernards and Great Danes are famous for their normally gentle natures, but in November of 2019, an Ohio woman got herself killed by her own pet Great Danes. The 49 year old lady was killed while her husband was in county jail (a clue). He later told police the dogs, “especially the black one,” were vicious and showed the cops the scars on his arms reportedly from the dog bites. He further explained that he could handle the beasts, but his wife could not. (So why was she with the hounds?) Dogs kill plenty of people each year, but usually we think of more terrifying breeds such as Pit Bulls to be the culprits. Other incidents of dogs killing people are often related to the dogs starving or the victim being a child or baby. We call this particular death idiotic, because why would the woman have big, vicious dogs, knowing full well the danger involved?
10. Circus snake trainer strangled during performance.
Every so often someone gets strangled by their pet Python, Anaconda, or Boa Constrictor that they foolishly wrap around their neck, but in this case we are talking about a trained professional snake handler! In May of 2019, a Russian circus performer was putting on a show in Dagestan with a large constrictor type snake when the reptile did what such snakes do, and it put the squeeze on the man’s neck, quickly causing him to fall to the ground unconscious. Other people rushed to his aid when it was realized he was not playing around as part of the act, and the snake was pulled off the man. We do not know for sure if this particular guy died, because the circus types are not saying, leading us to believe he is either dead or not going to wake up. Giant constrictor snakes put an incredible amount of force on their prey in an incredibly short amount of time, not merely suffocating the hapless victim but also crushing it. Crushing a human neck with its windpipe and other structures is ridiculously easy for a big snake. Putting such a critter on your neck, not so smart, resulting in idiotic death.
Question for students (and subscribers): What idiotic way of dying story can you share with us? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Abraham, Jeff and Bert Kearns. The Show Won’t Go On: The Most Shocking, Bizarre, and Historic Deaths of Performers Onstage. Chicago Review Press, 2019.
Kulczyk, David. Death in California: The Bizarre, Freakish and Just Curious Ways People Die in the Golden State. Craven Street Books, 2009.
Westerbone, MJ. Bizarre Deaths From History. I Storvik Ltd, 2013.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Stephen McKay from geograph.org.uk of a Memorial at Flodden Field, where Marmaduke Constable commanded the left wing, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. This image was taken from the Geograph project collection. See this photograph’s page on the Geograph website for the photographer’s contact details. The copyright on this image is owned by Stephen McKay and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.