5 Highly Inconvenient Places to Die
More than one in every three people reading this article will eventually die. But where will you die, and how? Maybe it’ll be warm in your bed, or warm in someone else’s bed. Maybe you’ll die in battle, valiantly fighting to finish a bowl of spaghetti. Or maybe you’ll find yourself...
In an Airline’s Wheel-Well
Keith Sapsford wanted to see the world. His father took him on vacation away from their home of Australia, but instead of sating the boy’s desire, it only whetted his appetite for more. His father then tried the other extreme and enrolled him in a Catholic boarding school. And so, on February 22, 1970, the 14-year-old decided to make his escape, by stowing away on a plane flying out of Sydney.
He got onto the tarmac and climbed up a plane’s landing gear, crawling into the compartment above it. This was a terrible idea and offered him a variety of potentially horrible deaths. Maybe when the landing gear retracted, it would crush him to death — the compartment is not supposed to contain both the gear and a human. Maybe he’d make it into the air, and then suffocate because the compartment isn’t pressurized. Fate chose a third option. The plane took off, and when the compartment doors opened so the landing gear could tuck itself in, Sapsford fell out.
A few different people have died the same way, but Sapsford’s case is remarkable because someone just happened to be pointing their camera at the plane at the time:
A 22-year-old photographer was over half a mile away, testing out a new lens for his camera. He had been hoping to photograph the runway (this was the time before airport security, if you didn’t already guess that from Sapsford’s successful infiltration), but another plane blocked his view of the plane he targeted. Then his subject took to the air, and he snapped a shot. He didn’t even realize someone had dropped out of the plane 200 feet to his death till he later developed the photo.
Here’s a wider version, for those wondering which airline this was.
Stuck in a Grocery Store
Iowa man Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada went missing in 2009. His family said the 25-year-old had run out of the house barefoot delirious in a snowstorm, so the obvious answer was that he had stumbled in the November cold and was in trouble. But no one saw any sign of his body. Not then, not when the storm subsided and not when winter turned to spring.
People kept searching. Officers talked to Murillo-Moncada’s coworkers at the No Frills Supermarkets, who said they’d seen no sign of him. His family also talked to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE had previously deported Murillo-Moncada to Honduras, but he had made his way back. It seemed very possible that they’d picked him up again, and while they said they had no record of this, maybe they’d lost him in the system. Maybe they even chucked him in some detention center and forgot about him for years.
His body finally turned up in 2019, a full decade after he went missing and a full decade after (it turned out) he’d died. In was in the No Frills, the supermarket where he’d worked. Apparently, the very day he’d vanished, Murillo-Moncada had gone to work and had climbed up on one of the 12-foot-tall coolers in the back room, as workers regularly did. He accidentally fell behind it. He likely didn’t die on impact, but he was trapped or incapacitated.
No one heard him call for help over the sounds of the coolers. His body stayed there for seven years till the place closed down, then three more as the store lay vacant. People only found it when they came to remove those old unplugged coolers. By this point, he had thoroughly decayed, and so, they had to identify him using his DNA. You might wonder why no one had smelled the decomposing body during all those years. We have to conclude that the backroom of a supermarket smells so bad normally that a single rotting corpse makes no noticeable difference.
Next to a Cursed Cable
The Nicolas Cage classic Gone in 60 Seconds loosely remade a movie from a quarter century earlier. This was the good kind of remake, where they remake a film not to cash in on nostalgia but just to copy a premise for a new audience who hasn’t even heard of the original. The 1974 film, even if somewhat forgotten now, had been a hit in its day and was going to spawn a sequel.
Gone in 60 Seconds II never came out, thanks to an accident during filming. It would have to be a pretty big accident to derail the whole film. During the original movie, star H.B. Halicki smashed into a light pole, breaking ribs and a leg, but they went on filming and even included that crash in the finished release.
While filming the sequel, Halicki’s luck went from bad to terrible. Just hours after giving a press interview about how careful he was being to avoid more accidents, they staged a scene where a tractor trailer plows through cars then knocks down a water tower. Naturally, Halicki was careful to stand clear of the tower’s path. But when the tower fell, a cable connected to it snapped. This cable whipped around and hit a telephone pole. That pole fell down and hit Halicki, killing him.
In a Giant Pool of Shit
The year was 1184. Just about everyone in Europe could count on dying horribly by something or another, possibly while crusted in shit. You had slightly more luck, however, if you were a noble. You still had no decent medicine and might suddenly get mauled by a bear, but you at least stood a chance of having slightly less shit on you. You could afford moderately more advanced toilet facilities and could pay peasants to wipe the filth off you (we assume).
And so Henry VI, future Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, convened a meeting at the Petersberg Citadel. He had been campaigning against Poland and now thought the city of Erfurt where he found himself was a good spot to mediate a dispute between two other rulers.
The men went to the cathedral’s second floor, each attended to by numerous other princes and bishops. The wooden boards were not built to bear such weight, and they broke, sending everyone who couldn’t hop to safety falling down. Then they broke through the floorboards of the lower story as well, landing in the cathedral’s huge latrine pit.
The beams and falling stones killed some of them, while drowning and suffocating in excrement killed several more. Sixty people died in that pit, including Burgmeister Breuer of Wartburg, Count Gozmar III of Ziegenhain, Heinrich of Schwarzburg and numerous more who you’ve never heard of because before they could meet you, they died in a pool of German Scheisse.
Next to A Cursed Cable and in A Giant Pool of Shit
North of Bangkok, in 1991, a 57-year-old woman was tending to a farm. She slipped in a material that sources refer to as “farmyard mud,” which we interpret as a mixture of wet soil and foul pig droppings. She grabbed onto the nearest thing, which happened to be a bare cable carrying electricity.
That was how Yooket Paen died. But we wouldn’t remember this story 30 years later if that’s all that happened. There’s something else we want to tell you.
The next day, it fell on Yooket Paen’s sister to explain what had happened. As neighbors looked on, she stepped into the same muck that had proven so dangerous the previous day. She slipped, and she grabbed the same cable, which was still live. At least the two sisters are together now, hopefully somewhere where all cables are insulated.