Authors: Dale Dreher
Tags: #true crime, #medical humour, #true stories, #bizarre stories, #fatal accidents, #freak accidents, #fluke accidents, #dark humor
Death By Misadventure:
210 Dumb Ways To Die
Published by Dale Dreher at Smashwords
Copyright 1999 Dale Dreher
All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents
World Health Organization
reports that almost 3 million people die in
accidents each year, accounting for almost 6% of all deaths in the
world. Of this number about 900,000 die in car accidents. Work
accidents claimed the lives of another 200,000. The remaining 1.9
million people die from fires, falls, drowning, poisoning,
suffocation, fire arms and other unintentional injuries.
According to the
U.S. National Safety
, unintentional injury is the
leading cause of death among persons of all ages. For people
aged 1 to 38, accidents are the No. 1 cause of death. Statistics
also show that men are twice as likely to die from unintentional
injuries than are women.
This book contains examples of the most preventable kind of
accidental deaths -- deaths by misadventure. The fatal accidents
presented here have all been reported in newspapers or other media.
They are the more unusual examples of dumb ways people die. They
are accidents of arrogance, stupidity or complete
I have collected these stories with two purposes in mind – to
inform and to entertain. I have tried to keep the tone ironic but
respectful. I hope one reader, one day, might think twice before
diving in unfamiliar water, driving while intoxicated, or … making
love to a backhoe!
1. You First, Greg.
Cohen, 18, died attempting to break in to a grade school. Instead
of smashing a door or window, Gregory and his two pals decided to
enter through a furnace exhaust vent. Gregory managed to get 6 feet
down the narrow shaft before he succumbed to the carbon monoxide
fumes and intense heat. Greg's two accomplices fled on bicycles
after calling police and pointing the way to the
Toronto Star, April 5,
2. Calling Dr. Pepper.
1981 and 1988, 11 people in the United States died while tipping
soft drink machines. The accidents occur while people rock the
machines in attempts to dislodge coins or cans. Many such machines
are top heavy and can weigh as much as 1,000
Winnipeg Free Press, July 19,
3. Thelma and Dan Duk Thieu.
the early hours of a spring morning, a suburban youth's joy ride in
a stolen Dodge Caravan ended fatally when he drove off the
Scarborough Bluffs on Lake Ontario. Police recovered the
17-year-old's body from between the middle and back seats of the
locked vehicle at the bottom of the 200 ft. drop. One can only
suspect that Dan mistook the Caravan for a Magic
Toronto Star, April 19,
4. Probably His Butt, Officer.
After a night of drinking, Christian Robichaud tried to break
into his neighbor’s apartment by climbing across the balconies. He
was startled when confronted by his elderly neighbor. Trying to
flee, he plunged 17 stories to his death. "I just heard a 'pat'",
said Robichaud's intended victim. The responding Detective
concluded, "It's death by misadventure, it was an accidental fall.
I just wonder what was going through his head on the way
Toronto Star, January 25,
5. [.23 (7 x 32) 1 + 2,000,000] x 9 / 5 =
On a hot July night in 1985,
32 year old Ana Garcia and six friends broke into a
closed municipal pool in the Bronx, New York. Garcia drowned and
was later found to have a blood alcohol level of .23 percent,
twice the legal limit. Garcia's family later won a $2 million
negligence suit against New York City. The City appealed and nine
years after Garcia's death, the New York State Supreme Court threw
out the entire award. The five judges ruled unanimously that
Garcia's "reckless and culpable conduct" was the only legal cause
of her death.
New York Times, October
Burglar Gai Pan
Octavio Cerda killed himself
trying to break into a Chinese Restaurant in Lynwood, California.
The 34 year old and a friend gained entry through the
restaurant's roof vent. Cerda died after falling from the roof onto
the hard kitchen floor. The friend fled and alerted Cerda's
New York Times, October 25,
Bible Hard to
Franco Brun, 22, an inmate at
the Metro Toronto East Detention Centre died trying to swallow a
bible (4 x 2.5 x .5 inches). The Coroner concluded that the former
race track employee was trying to "purge himself of the Devil by
consuming religion." Brun was serving a 15-day sentence for
possession of a stolen credit card and damaging a police
Toronto Globe and Mail, September
is alleged that Kent Wilson, 45, was electrocuted trying to
sabotage a 12,000 volt transformer in Mountain View, California.
Wilson, a delivery truck driver, was one of 2,000 striking
employees of the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner newspapers.
Wilson was apparently trying to disrupt electricity to one of the
papers' suburban distribution centres.
Globe and Mail, November 7, 1994
Florida police had to use
fingerprints to identify the remains of escaped convict Anastasio
Figueroa, 41, found at a landfill site. Figueroa was serving a life
sentence for attempted kidnapping when he escaped the Hendry
Correctional Institute in the back of a garbage truck. Figueroa,
however, did not manage to allude the truck's garbage
New York Times, February
10. Mechanics of Sabotage.
appears that shop steward Kim Man Tseung was a casualty in the
workplace feud between mechanics and management at the New York
Transit Authority. Tseung's head and chest were crushed under a
12-ton bus. An air bag in the vehicle's suspension system had been
slashed, as had the bags on 2 other nearby buses. A folding knife
was found under the bus with Tsueng. The Transit Authority alleged
several other incidents of sabotage, while the union claimed that
the Transit Authority was pushing employees too hard, creating
unsafe working conditions.
Times, November 4, 1994
11. Operation Snake Dance.
George Scribner, 38, of White Plains, New York, had been
arrested 3 times for trying to steal the copper wire that powers
the Metro North commuter rail line. A week after his last
arrest, Scribner was found lifeless beside his hacksaw. Scribner's
arrests were part of a successful police crackdown on the theft of
the wire, which is sold for $1 a pound. Operation Snake Dance
reduced the rail line’s losses from this type of theft from $1.3
million in 1990 to $120 thousand in 1992.
New York Times, March 5, 1993
12. Chew Your Evidence Slowly.
Buffalo man died shortly after being arrested for robbing a woman
in a supermarket parking lot. The suspect choked on a $50 bill he
was trying to hide from the police.
New York Times, April 28, 1995
Kevin Mulcahy, a former CIA
employee died from exposure on the porch of a rural Virginia motel.
Mulcahy, 40, was waiting his turn to testify against another
former spy, Edwin Wilson, accused of selling arms to Libya.
Mulcahy, who suffered from emphysema and pneumonia, was reported to
have been drinking heavily at the time of his death. Wilson was
later convicted on 7 of the 8 charges against
Miami Herald, October 27 and
November 19, 1982
Way to go
High school buddies, Paul
"Little Keebler" Smith and John Bertram, were surprised by an Akron
car dealer while they were stealing the hubcaps from one of the
dealer's corvettes. Bertram was caught, while Smith chose to climb
a bridge's 7 foot fence and drop another 15 feet into the fast
moving Cuyahoga River. The fleeing felon's body was found the next
day. In memory of Smith, friends got tattoos of a skull with a crew
cut and ponytail bearing the inscription "RIP 9 3 93".
(Smith gained his nickname, Little Keebler, after using a cookie
sheet during a play fight with friends.)
Akron Beacon Journal, September 13, 1993
San Francisco Area thieves never knew what killed them. They stole
a tank of what they believed was laughing gas (nitrous oxide). When
they opened the cylinder in their car to get a quick high, they
fell asleep and died a few moments later. Had the crooks correctly
read the label of the tank they would have discovered that it
contained pure nitrogen. Since nitrogen is a major component in the
air we breathe, pure nitrogen does not have a noticeable taste or
smell; it is, however, heavier than air. So when released in a
confined space, pure nitrogen displaces everything else. The men
suffocated within in a few painless moments because of lack of
National Review, October 11,
Escape from Club
Stephen Peters was doing pretty
easy time as an inmate at the William Head prison near Victoria,
British Columbia. The medium-security prison is surrounded on three
sides by the Pacific Ocean and boasts a nine-hole golf course. The
convicted thief and sex offender was serving the fifth year of a
15-year sentence when he attempted to swim to freedom. Peters and
his prosthetic left leg, however, were no match for the cold waters
of the Pacific Northwest. The convict’s body washed back onto the
prison’s shore 2 days later.
Globe and Mail, May 5, 1997
Teacher and part-time bartender,
James Hartwig, was celebrating his 41
birthday when he got into an
argument with a police officer. The officer was supervising the
towing of Hartwig’s illegally parked car. Because Hartwig appeared
to be “extremely drunk”, the officer refused to return the car to
him and encouraged Hartwig to call someone for a ride. While
Hartwig was explaining that he did not want to wake his wife, the
officer was called away to a more urgent matter. Hartwig continued
his argument with the tow truck driver, chasing the truck and
banging on the passenger window. Hartwig somehow slipped and fell
under the 6,000-pound vehicle, which crushed his head and chest.
Hartwig was described as a “special” teacher who “related
beautifully” with his students.
Herald, November 29, 1988
Hit, Run and
Lundquist, 65, walked away from a car accident, leaving behind his
broken glasses. Lundquist was missing for more than 3 weeks before
his body was discovered in a wooded area some 2 miles from the
accident scene. The exact cause of death was not obvious but there
were no signs of foul play.
Pioneer Press, May 3, 1988
Coroners ruled Joe Norman’s
shotgun death an accident despite the fact that the former power
company executive was facing charges of accepting kickbacks from
coal suppliers. Norman, 55, had spent the morning hunting quail and
died cleaning his loaded shotgun. Authorities were convinced that
the witness testimony and other evidence gathered at the site were
consistent with an accident and not suicide or murder. The coroner
did concede, however, “The only people who would know that are God
Almighty and Joe.”
The State (Columbia
S.C.), March 11, 1992