4 Deaths That Were Officially Documented As Stupid
Death is always stupid, but some deaths are more stupid than others. Consider for example the death of Alexander Bogdanov. Bogdanov believed that by transfusing his blood into other people, and transfusing their blood into him, both parties would grow in strength. After 12 of these blood exchanges, he died.
You might be tempted to call Bogdanov’s death stupid. His was actually a death no one called stupid. They called him smart, a man who died as a soldier for science. No, for people to stand around and say, “Huh, that was stupid,” we must instead look to such stories as...
The Unswallowable Fish
One day in 1998, an Ohio 911 operator received a call about a choking man. Michael Gentner had a fish stuck in his throat, said his friends now calling emergency services. Not a piece of fish, which he was eating, but a live 5-inch fish that they had dared him to swallow whole. The center dispatched paramedics, but there was little chance of this being a successful visit. If someone is choking, maybe an operator on the phone can walk you through the Heimlich maneuver, but this may be too pressing a problem for you to be able to wait for help.
Sure enough, help came too late. The paramedics showed up and saw 23-year-old Gentner dead, with half the fish still protruding from his mouth. They couldn’t revive him. The friends surely mourned his passing, and another issue remained. They were the ones who’d dared him to try that fatal stunt. Could they face legal consequences?
No, said the police. As one spokesman said, “If I dare you to jump off a bridge, and you do it and you're 23 years of age, you're stupid.” Let that be a lesson to us all. By all means, have fun, but also ask yourself: Based on how I’m acting, will police mock my intellect when they announce my death?
The Man Sued After Death
A Chicago train killed a guy crossing the tracks in 2008, and we have quite a few reasons for sympathizing with him. Hiroyuki Joho hadn’t leapt off the platform to take some unauthorized shortcut. He was using the designated pedestrian crossing. He wasn’t expecting a train to come, because the noticeboard said five minutes remained till the next one’s arrival. Heavy rain made it hard to hear. He smiled at the passengers on the other side as he crossed. Then came the train — not the commuter train due in five minutes but a separate Amtrak express train going 73 miles per hour.
The train plowed through him and split his body apart. The chunks went flying, and one hit another waiting passenger. This 58-year-old woman, Gayane Zokhrabov, fractured her leg and wrist, though those injuries may have resulted as much from her resulting fall to the ground as from the missile’s impact. She went on to sue Joho’s estate for damages. His “estate,” in this case, refers to his mother, who had dropped her 18-year-old son at that station that morning then received the news that he was dead.
“If you do something as stupid as this guy did, you have to be responsible for what comes from it,” said the woman’s lawyer. One might suggest that dying already constituted being held responsible, and she could try suing the city if she must sue someone, but she went forward with action against the mother.
Three years after the accident, an appeals court ruled that she did have grounds to sue. “There are no reported cases we have found in which a pedestrian who was struck and injured by a flying body sued the deceased person’s estate,” wrote the judge, which was not a sentence he had ever imagined having to write. According to the “four elements of a duty analysis” (rain, pain, bloodshed and train), Joho owed the woman a duty of care, and this is a debt death does not erase.
Death of a Philosopher Prophet
Albert Camus is the one person we’re covering today who is famous for matters other than his death. Camus (pronounced Ca-MOO) was a philosopher of absurdism and won a Nobel Prize in Literature. You might have heard this quote of his: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” Right now, though, we’re mostly concerned with this other quote of his: “I know nothing more stupid than to die in an automobile accident.”
Camus, as you savvy readers immediately guessed, died in an automobile accident, which we wouldn’t call stupid ourselves, but who are we to question Camus’ own assessment? It was January of 1960, and he was just coming off a New Year’s holiday. He, his wife and his daughter were all due to return to Paris by train, and Camus died with his train ticket in his pocket. Rather than board the train like his family did, he decided late to cover those 500 miles through a road trip with a buddy.
via Wiki Commons
When police found the crashed car, the speedometer was stuck at 100 miles per hour. The car was the fastest available in France, and the public concluded he’d taken this trip to test what this crazy engine could do. Later investigations showed the car had been traveling at a normal speed when a tire burst, and the speedometer shifted during the crash. The real motive behind the road trip? Trains don’t serve great food, and Camus wanted a chance to stop at several French restaurants.
So, he died, but at least his stomach was full of frog’s legs and snails. That’s not us making fun of the French — those were the specialties served by the specific restaurants he visited.
The Self-Declaration of the Boiled Man
If you visit Yellowstone Park, do not venture off the walkways to explore the hot springs on foot. The ground may collapse and drop you in. The water, a hair below boiling point, is a lot hotter than the sort of hot springs that are fun to soak in. Worse than that is the acid. The park has a few stories of people who fell in accidentally and suffered the consequences. It also has one story from back in 1981 of someone who jumped in headfirst.
He had a reason. He was jumping in to rescue his huge dog, Moosie. Moosie dove in first, against the warnings written on several signs, because Moosie was illiterate. Rescue wasn’t a very good reason for 24-year-old David Kirwan to jump in after him, though. He stood no shot at successfully retrieving Moosie from the acid. Despite Kirwan’s intervention, Moosie fully dissolved. The dog’s body was reduced to oils, which people later saw contribute to small eruptions in the pool.
“That was stupid,” said Kirwan, after a friend gave him a hand and pulled him out (the friend took some risk in the process but knew better than to jump in himself, which would have killed them both). “How bad am I? That was a stupid thing I did.” He was quite bad. His eyes were white, as he was now blind. Someone now yanked off one of his shoes (because hey, free shoes), and it peeled off all the skin of his foot along with it. Both his hands fully degloved as well, leaving hand-shaped envelopes of skin on the ground.
At the clinic, they pumped IV fluids in him but there wasn’t have much hope. By the next day, he was dead. Don’t feel too bad, Kirwan. You did what you did out of love. We bet your dog would have done the same for you, given the chance. Though, that’s because your dog was stupid.