One of the truest clichés is that everyone makes mistakes. Big mistakes, too, the potentially fatal kind. We human beings screw up so consistently, in fact, and in such a rich and bewildering variety of ways all but designed to bring about our own extinction, that any discussion of self-assisted fatality (other than intentional suicide) must be prefaced with a giant caveat. We’ve all done incredibly risky things — smoking in bed, say, or drinking too much, or jaywalking in heavy traffic — that could have gotten us killed. The fact that we’re still kicking is plain dumb luck.
Just as there are degrees of luck, however, there are degrees of stupidity. Some acts are more moronic than others. And people who are both excessively clueless and excessively unlucky tend to come to a bad end. This is not to say, of course, that they deserve their untimely and often spectacular demises. But it’s fair to marvel — if only in a humble, there-but-for-the-grace-of-God sort of way — at the mortal messes people get themselves into.
Here, then, is Obit’s Top 10 List of Stupid Death Tricks, in chronological order. It highlights the exotic fates of people who Shoulda Known Better and, with a little help from Murphy’s Law, paid the ultimate price. If there’s a through-line on the list, it’s one of unlikely enthusiasms, the desire to prove outlandish theories and, in a few cases, a certain hubris that comes from beating the odds. If they cheated death once, these folks reasoned, why couldn’t they do it again? Note to the reader: If you lapse into fits of smug, ghoulish snickering while perusing this list, shame on you. Then again, who’ll ever know?
1: If the Elizabethan era had had refrigerators, this may never have happened.
In 1626, Francis Bacon — the otherwise brilliant English philosopher, scientist and writer believed by some to have written the plays attributed to William Shakespeare — was traveling by coach in a snowstorm when he was seized by the desire to test the idea that snow, like salt, could be used to preserve meat. Stuffing snow into a chicken, according John Aubrey’s Brief Lives, Bacon contracted a case of pneumonia that proved to be fatal.
2: Combining the professions of “tailor” and “inventor” is like mixing “heavy smoker” and “gunpowder factory security guard.”
In 1912, an Austrian tailor named Franz Reichelt came to believe that he had successfully fashioned a coat that functioned like a parachute, allowing the wearer to float safely to the ground from on high. Instead of testing it by, say, jumping from the roof of a barn onto a haystack, he traveled to Paris and leapt off the Eiffel Tower, falling 197 feet to his death.
3: A prop can still be a deadly weapon.
Actors on Hollywood sets are routinely warned to be careful with guns used as props, but in 1984, Jon-Erik Hexum, a star of the CBS action series Cover-Up, pretended to play Russian roulette by putting a blank-loaded .44 Magnum to his temple. “Let’s see if this will do it,” he reportedly said, and pulled the trigger. The burst of hot gas fired at close range penetrated his skull.
Read the rest here. I used to LOVE Jon-Erik Hexum when I was a teen. Now, not so much. My favorite here is number 10. Priceless.
lol, the title of this thread brought to mind some silly pranks ppl in hospitals occasionally do to each other...