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! (No, we have no idea why there was a frog in his water.) Normally we like to save the best for last, but in this case, old Marmaduke has to take top prize for dreaming up stupid ways to die. We list Mr. Constable and 9 others who probably wish their obituary listed a different cause of death. What goofy ways of dying would you add to the list? (See our previous articles on the subject, January 5’s 10 Horrible Ways to Die, June 15’s 10 People Who Were the First to Die 10 Different Ways, and October 4’s 9 Innovative Ways to Die.)
1. Swallowing a frog.
As related above, Sir Marmaduke made the blunder of not looking in his glass before taking a big slug. Maybe the water was dirty and he did not see the amphibian, but we really do not know. Surely other people have accidentally swallowed stuff while taking a drink, and some of those unfortunates may have died. I once gagged on a cigarette butt that a complete numbskull put out in my Coke. (I hit him as hard as I could!) We are sure many bugs, ice cubes, pieces of food and sundry other items have gone down the hatch and choked people to death. If you know of any interesting cases, please share the information with us.
2. Falling through a window while having sex.
This time it was a Chinese couple that were having the nasty against a window in their apartment in 2015 when the window broke and the couple fell through the window. Both the husband and the wife died from the fall.
3. Falling through window to prove window would not break.
In 1993 a Toronto, Ontario lawyer named Garry Hoy set about to prove the safety glass in the Toronto-Dominion Centre was strong and safe by running up to a glass wall on inside the 24th floor and launching himself against the shatterproof glass. The glass did not shatter, but Hoy died anyway when the entire pane was forced out of its frame and Hoy went sailing down with the glass, killing him upon impact with the ground. Hoy was posthumously given a 1996 Darwin Award, an award given in honor of the theory of “survival of the fittest,” a theory in which inferior intellects will fail to survive to reproduce or become physically unable to reproduce due to their presumed inferior brains. Hoy had successfully demonstrated the “safety” of the windows in the past. It only takes one failure…
4. Jumping with a self-invented “coat parachute.”
They should call this guy Zweistein, because he was at least twice as smart as Einstein… NOT! In 1912, Franz Reichelt tested his own invention, a “coat parachute,” by jumping off the Eiffel Tower in Paris. He promised the authorities he would test it with a dummy before trying it on a human. Apparently he was the dummy! Franz, a tailor by trade, used himself as the dummy and fell to his death.
5. Ford Pintos do not fly (or at least not well).
Henry Smolinski, an aeronautical engineer, used a Ford Pinto as the basis for his invention of a flying car that could also drive on roads. In 1973 Henry started a company called AVE (Advanced Vehicle Engineers) and tried to merge a Ford Pinto subcompact car with a Cessna 337 airplane into a vehicle called the Mizar that could fly and then with a few quick moves be once again street legal. A month after the test pilot narrowly avoided death when a strut came loose, Henry was making a test flight when the same strut came loose, this time resulting in a fatal accident for the inventor. Since the Pinto was not even a reliable car for driving on a road, why did Smolinski think it should fly? A bit of trivia is in order here! In the James Bond movie, The Man With the Golden Gun, an AVE Mizar was going to be used as the getaway vehicle for the villain and his henchman. The real life accidental death made the movie people change their minds and use a model instead of a real Mizar in the 1974 film.
6. Drowning in 5 gallon buckets.
Unfortunately, around 240 people drown each year in swimming pools in the US, and another 110 or so drown in other water holding devices, such as hot tubs, bath tubs and wash tubs. Incredibly, nearly a dozen people per year drown in 5 gallon buckets! Most of these tragedies are young children and toddlers that fall face first and cannot pull themselves up and out of the water. If you never considered a bucket of water a hazard, you better keep the buckets and toddlers away from each other, and make it part of “toddler proofing” your house (including your yard if neighbor kids might wander over).
7. Drowning in cesspit.
In 2015, a Russian man fell through rotten boards of the seat at an outdoor toilet above a cesspit (an outhouse). Even though his “friend” was right there waiting to urinate, the “friend” chose to go elsewhere to urinate instead of helping his “friend” out of the horrible goo. The man in the cesspit then drowned when the urinating man went home after relieving himself without returning to the victim or even notifying anyone else. The blithering idiot that did not help the victim claimed he did not know the telephone number to emergency services and assumed the victim would be able to crawl out of the pit without assistance. Incidents such as this make us wish the ghosts of victims really do haunt those that done them wrong! (Note: Numerous cases of people drowning in regular toilets due to drunkenness, drug overdose, or passing out from illness are out there, but we think this case trumps the others.)
8. Death by surfboard (a totally different way).
In 1966, Robert Bingham III was on vacation in Nantucket when he decided to go surfing. He put his surfboard across the back seat of his convertible car and took off for the beach. While on the way to the beach another car clipped the surfboard that was sticking out past the side of Bingham’s car, and the board whirled around, breaking the unfortunate owners neck. Usually when people are killed when in conjunction with a surfboard it is either by being slammed against the seafloor while being wiped out by a large wave, by being struck by another surfboard while surfing, being attacked by a shark, or simply drowning. Mr. Bingham III invented a whole new way to get killed by a surfboard.
9. Flying Lawnmower vs. football fan.
In 1979 at a New York Jets-New England Patriots football game half-time show at Shea Stadium, the entertainment was provided by a group that claimed they could make anything fly. That day they chose to demonstrate their flying lawnmower, a radio controlled flying model that circled around the inside of the stadium until it stalled and fell, landing on unfortunate fan John Bowen, 20 years old. Bowen would tragically die a week after being struck by the falling lawn mower, becoming the only victim we could find ever done in by a flying lawn mower. In this idiotic incident (idiotic to be flying dangerous objects over the crowd, not just over the field) a second man was also struck in the head by the falling lawn mower, although he suffered survivable injuries, including a concussion. Clearly the idiocy involved in this death is not attributable to the victim.
10. How much sex is too much?
Many people have died during or immediately after having sex, including former Vice President of the United States Nelson Rockefeller, but this case goes beyond the others. In 2009, Sergey Tuganov bet a couple women he could sexually satisfy them non-stop for 12 hours straight! Quite a boast, but ₤3000 (or $4300) is a lot of incentive to win the bet (as if 2 hot Russian babes is not reward enough). Sergey, a 28 year old mechanic, gobbled down an entire bottle of Viagra during his ordeal, and half a day later triumphantly declared himself the winner of the bet, and immediately keeled over from a massive heart attack. The ladies immediately called for EMS but poor, worn out Sergey, was already dead and could not be revived. Our only concern about this idiotic incident is whether or not the mortician was able to get the smile off Sergey’s face for the funeral!
Question for students (and subscribers): What goofy ways of dying would you add to the list? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Edmund, Neo and Ralph Tedesco. Spike TV’s 1000 Ways To Die. Zenescope, 2012.
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.