This One's the Dumps
A man. A bicycle. A dump truck. Simple physics informs us that when any two of these elements collide—especially at speed—the smaller of the two (man, bicycle) will leave nary a dent upon the larger (dump truck). Indeed, this is precisely how events unfolded for a Colorado man in Seattle, whose bike ride with a friend on September 7, 2007, turned from leisurely to tragic. The location was the intersection of Fuhrman Avenue East and Eastlake Avenue East, which, with more than half a dozen accidents in the past three years, is certainly number one on our list of "Best Places to Get Killed on a Bike in Seattle"!
An Eastside lawyer made our Best Deaths list without even leaving the house! He worked at Microsoft, but his cause of death was macro and hard: A giant crane at a construction site in the fancy nabe where he lived fell directly onto his fourth-story Bellevue apartment, crushing him. (Of all the ways to go, that one's not bad. He never knew what hit him.)
Up, Up, and Away!
In 1783, French scientist Pilatre De Rozier launched the world's first hot air balloon. Since then, the leisurely balloon ride has become a staple of family vacations, romantic interludes, and those seeking tame thrills. But this August, two of our neighbors in the Great White North fell to a flaming death when their hot air balloon burst into flames over an RV park. Just after they jumped, speeding through the air with their clothes on fire, the balloon burst into flames, shot 400 feet into the sky, then hurtled to earth. Who says Canadians are boring?
From Russia with Love
Getting assassinated by the Russian government is soooo 1980, but Alexander Litvinenko brought it back in style! Litvinenko—a former Russian security officer—came down with a bad case of radiation sickness last November after some crazy Ivan gave him a dose of Polonium 210 in his afternoon tea! Litvinenko became quite the tabloid star while lying in his hospital bed—he quickly shed all those pesky pounds he'd picked up during those chilly Siberian winters—before eventually succumbing to the effects of organ failure and oh-so-embarrassing hair loss. Dosvedanya, comrade!
Accessorizing is tough. Does this belt go with these shoes? Does this tie make my ass look fat? Does this bomb wrapped around my neck bring out the color of my eyes? Pennsylvania pizza deliveryman Brian Wells—perhaps a little too wrapped up in the current suicide-bomber chic that's all the rage in Baghdad these days—was caught robbing a bank with a time bomb strapped to his body. When Wells was caught, he told police he'd been forced to pull the heist, before promptly exploding. While covering everyone around you in blood is a big fashion faux pas, Seattle Necropolitan is betting that Wells's explosive style makes a big impact on the fashion industry this year.
Ever since Vincent van Gogh, suffering artists have used suicide as the ultimate in self-expression. So when artist Jeremy Blake found his girlfriend Theresa Duncan dead on July 10, 2007—reportedly from an overdose of Tylenol PM and bourbon—he did what any creative young person who thought he was being stalked by the Scientologists would do: He took off all his clothes and walked into the ocean to drown. Hey, at least nobody lost an ear!
Achoo! You've heard the urban legend that the heart stops beating when you sneeze, right? In July 2006, an 18-year-old proved the myth to be true! He sneezed himself to death while on a family vacation in Scarborough. According to BBC News, it took only three sneezes—two little ones and "one tremendous one," said his dad—for something in his ear to "pop." Then he fell to the ground like a crumpled Kleenex, and died from a brain hemorrhage. Gesundheit!
Why Did that Cat Cross the Road?
Topping the list in the death-by-compassion category is James R. Richards, a runner-up in last year's 471 Best Veterinarians issue! Richards was the author of ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats and a renowned feline veterinarian who devoted his life to helping them. Last April, Richards was riding his motorcycle when a cat ran out into the road. Richards swerved to avoid hitting it, wrecked his motorcycle, and died from his injuries. That darn cat!
The honeymoon can't last forever, but the important thing is to stay true to your vows, to stick together through thick and thin. A 57-year-old man and his wife provided an example of unity when he had a fatal heart attack while driving along State Route 411 in Longview, Washington, in early October. The car flipped end-over-end, smashed through a chain-link fence, and slammed into a metal shed, killing the new bride the deceased driver had wed just three weeks before! The upshot: They're together in heaven.
How do you top the fact of a 53-year-old man flying from Florida to Michigan to have intercourse with a 5-year-old girl? Well, if you're disgraced federal prosecutor John D. R. Atchison—who had a wife and three kids back home—you make like a pedophilic Houdini and find a way to hang yourself while awaiting trial in prison on suicide watch! Good thing he's not as stealthy about finding 5-year-olds to have intercourse with as he is about hanging himself, or we'd be out one of the Best Deaths of 2007!
The Great Finish Line in the Sky
It was humid out, like a soggy napkin—the hottest, soggiest napkin on record. Never in its 30 years had the Chicago Marathon seen the mercury rise this high—a searing 88 degrees. Despite the heat on October 7, 2007, one 35-year-old man was determined to finish his epic 26.2-mile run. While others gave in to self-preservation, he soldiered on. At the corner of 15th Street and Ashland Avenue, he lost the race—but won a date with eternity!
Sometimes, when you assume, you make more than a you-know-what out of you and me! On October 5, 2007, a New Jersey woman and her 10-year-old daughter were enjoying a day at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Morris County when the woman decided it was the perfect opportunity to strangle her child. Once she assumed her child was dead, she took out a knife and stabbed herself to death. Then her daughter woke up!
Now That's What We Call Death Rock!
When Van Halen sing "Jump!" in their beloved 1984 rock anthem, the band probably don't mean to say "Jump... out of a third story window!" But, as the Darwin Awards confirm, that's exactly what 16-year-old Li Xiao Meng did in November of last year. While bouncing on his bed and playing air guitar to loud music in his dorm room, the Singapore business student accidentally leaped to his death. Music may save some lives, but it can also take them!
Dying of Thirst
Water is supposed to be good for you, right? But too much of anything can be not so good! In January, a 28-year-old mother of three died while competing in a water-drinking contest called "Hold Your Wee for a Wii," sponsored by a Sacramento radio station. She was hoping to win a Nintendo console but placed second. She was found dead the same afternoon. The Sacramento County coroner's office attributed the death to water intoxication. Adding insult to fatality, on the day of her death, she had in her possession sixth-row tickets to see Justin Timberlake—but instead of drowning in the Timberlake, she drowned in her own body!
What's Down There, Mommy?
We here at Seattle Necropolitan salute the precocious toddler who, on October 9, 2007, became the youngest person to die at the Grand Canyon! CBS news reports that the Arizona girl slipped and fell near Mather Point, one of the most scenic and popular spots along the crimson-hued canyon—with a view to die for!
There's No Such Thing as "Safe Sex"!
On June 20 of this year, the Associated Press reported a young man and woman found naked and dead on the street in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. Authorities speculated that the couple fell 50 feet from an office-building roof while engaging in intercourse. At least they "finished together"!
This Job Is Killing Me
"Coal mine bump" sounds like it could be the name of a dance from John Waters's Hairspray, but who knew that it was also the name for an explosive seismic collapse of a mine wall or support pillar? Well, six coal miners and three rescue workers sure found out when a coal mine bump at Utah's Crandall Canyon Mine on August 16, 2007, trapped them in a living grave from which they would never escape!
One Hump or Two?
In August, a 60-year-old woman in Australia was crushed to death when her 330-pound pet camel tried to have sex with her. According to the story, the 10-month-old camel had already come close to suffocating the family's pet goat on a number of occasions. What an animal!
TV Really Is Bad for You
We've all seen the bumper sticker, typically affixed to a sputtering old Volvo: "KILL YOUR TELEVISION." But what if your television kills you? A possible answer might be provided by a Bakersfield, California, 7-year-old—if she hadn't already been killed by her television! While the 7-year-old slept in front of her family's 30-inch TV on a Saturday morning late last month, her 5-year-old brother attempted to plug in the DVD player, and—uh-oh! He accidentally knocked the TV off a dresser and onto his sleeping sister, crushing her skull.
Everyone knows spending too much time immersed in video games can kill your social life, but did you know it can kill your real life? In September, a 30-year-old man in Guangzhou, China, died from exhaustion in front of a terminal at an internet cafe after a three-day gaming binge! Now he has the high score—in heaven!
You think fixed-gear bikes are hard to control? What about a fixed-wing single-engine airplane trying to make a U-turn over New York's East River on a windy day? Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, 34, and his flight instructor found out when they slammed a small plane into a Manhattan apartment building last year (just four days after the Yankees had been eliminated from the playoffs) and showered the streets below with more than just peanuts and Cracker Jacks!
This Little Piggie Went to Heaven!
Bromohydrosis, also known as stinky feet, is usually no more than a mild source of embarrassment for those afflicted with it. But for one man in Houston, Texas, the foul odor emanating from his peds proved fatal! The man's killer: His very own roommate, whose long torment by the stench helped escalate what began as a simple drunken argument between roomies into multiple fatal stab wounds.
You Never Forget Your High-School Crush
Like a scene out of Our Town, it was noble, yet homey. It was a perfect autumn Friday night, October 12, 2007, in the 460-person town of Westcliffe, Colorado, when a high-school sophomore—a 15-year-old girl—tried to climb aboard a moving homecoming parade float representing Custer County High School. Tragically, she fell beneath the wheels and was crushed in front of onlookers!
Barber Goes Bang!
To paraphrase the immortal Kenny Rogers, you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to shoot yourself in the face in front of the mayor. For a Clarksville, Tennessee barber, that time came after the Clarksville City Council rejected the proposed zoning change that would've enabled him to secure a loan necessary to keep his barbershop afloat. Upon learning of the rejection at a city council meeting earlier this month, the barber reportedly told the mayor, "I just want you to know that you've killed me." He then stuck a handgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, blasting himself into the afterlife and eternal postmortem glory.
Philosophers, preachers, and atheists have debated the existence of God for nearly 300 years, but a Ukrainian man should be lionized for having finally settled the debate. As Ohtaj Humbat ohli Makhmudov (say that three times fast!) lowered himself by a rope into the lion enclosure at the Kiev zoo last year, he announced, "God will save me, if he exists!" Moments later a lioness pounced on him and severed his carotid artery. Maybe Nietzsche was right!
In the early hours of December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein—brutal dictator, war criminal, and scourge of the Bush clan—was "hanged by the neck until dead" in an understated ceremony in the Iraq capital of Baghdad. Within hours of his death, video footage of the execution hit the internet—to date, the video clip posted on YouTube has been "favorited" 946 times!
A Lucky Escape—to the Afterlife!
As the old saying goes, "When God closes a door, He opens a window!" Left unspoken is God's propensity to place this open window above a vat of sulfuric acid. Case in point: The saga of the unnamed Florida man who earlier this month crashed his car on the interstate near Daytona Beach. When his crashed car exploded in flames, the man was afforded a once-in-a-lifetime escape, making it out of the soon-to-be-exploding car and fleeing on foot. Unfortunately, his get-out-of-death-free card was strictly limited, and while running to safety, he was fatally struck by an SUV. Kudos, grim reaper!
What a Meth
Is it possible to die of stupidity? Who knows—but it's certainly possible to kill out of stupidity. Just ask the 27-year-old mother in Ontario, California, whose 18-month-old son died after she swabbed his stuffy nose with a meth-encrusted Q-tip. As every homemaker knows, it is impossible to buy less than 20 Q-tips at one time. Even in the smallest travel packs, each Q-tip is accompanied by 19 others. So what convinced her to reuse that crusty Q-tip next to the meth-fixins on the coffee table instead of standing up to get a fresh one? A lack of meth? A particularly good Oprah? We'll never know. But congratulations, dead meth baby—you're our 46th Best Death!
Still the Safest Way to Travel!
Because of all the security screeners and overpriced airport lattes, flying isn't nearly as much fun as it used to be. And missing your flight can be deadly! Indeed, a New York woman—late to catch her flight from Phoenix, Arizona, to an alcohol rehab clinic in Tucson—reportedly got into a tiff with ticket agents as the plane was pulling away from the gate, started yelling, was arrested for disorderly conduct, and got dragged off to a holding cell where, hours later, she was found dead. Somehow, she managed to strangle herself with the chain attaching her handcuffs to the bench and never got to enjoy one last cocktail at 30,000 feet.
He Gets Points for Creativity!
Though we've never actually attended Burning Man, Seattle Necropolitan has long admired from afar the annual gathering of wacky outsider art. But gather 45,000 feather-and-leather-clad revelers in the Nevada desert, add booze and drugs and fire, and someone's bound to get hurt! Case in point: When denizens of the Comfort & Joy camp encountered the body of a man hanging from the rafters of their two-story dome this year, they thought it was a work of performance art. Turned out it actually was a suicide. Cheeky!
For centuries man has sought to domesticate the animals of the wild. And it's worked pretty well. But for one man in Ball Ground, Georgia, an obsession with wildlife led, ultimately, to his untimely demise. Surprisingly, it was not one of the many buffalo or horses he kept on his ranch that killed him, but a red deer, which gored the 66-year-old rancher with its antlers!