4 People Who Died to Watch Something Awesome

You should go visit this active volcano. We hear the view’s to die for
4 People Who Died to Watch Something Awesome

The time has come for one more episode in our never-ending series, Weird Ways People Died

Sometimes, when you read these brief accounts of real people, you might feel guilty about getting so entertained by death. Don’t worry about that. Entertainment is how we feel alive, so if death is sad, feeling entertained is the best way to combat that. In fact, today, we have a group of people who themselves were trying to soak in entertainment with their very last moments. Gawking at them shows solidarity. We only wish that you can get near the kind of kick out of these stories as was experienced by such folks as...

The Last People to Go See the Guaíra Falls

There used to be these huge waterfalls between Brazil and Paraguay. We’re talking really huge. The Guaíra Falls carried maybe five times as much water per second as Niagara, maybe 15 times as much. We can’t do an official assessment of just how big they are, though, because they’re gone now. In 1982, we got rid of them — by covering them in water. 

Salto das Sete Quedas

via Wiki Commons 

Their one weakness.

We submerged them in a giant artificial lake, set behind a new dam. Destroying a natural wonder is always kind of tragic, but in return, we got ourselves a giant hydroelectric plant, which produces more than enough electricity to power the entire nation of Paraguay. That’s pretty cool, so this isn’t so much a story of destroying nature as taming nature. Water still flows through this area, only it goes through a dam’s spillway instead of through a natural waterfall, and this can potentially produce a waterfall even bigger than the Guaíra ones. 

In the final days before the Itaipú Dam’s construction, tourists rushed to get a final look at the doomed falls. On January 17, 1982, a bunch of them gathered on a 300-foot bridge that served as a viewing platform. The bridge needed maintenance, but no one was going to patch it up now, since it was so close to being demolished. Its cable snapped under the weight of all those people, and some 40 of them dropped into the water and drowned. Still, we hear that their sight of the falls during their descent was spectacular. 

The Ferry Crew Who Really Wanted to Watch a Goal on TV

In 2000, a bunch of people on a Greek island ferry were watching TV. That might sound odd to you, if you think cruise passengers need to make full use of the luxurious amenities, but the vacationers traveling on the MS Express Samina were getting their thrills from the islands they were visiting, not from the vessel carrying them. Plus, a fair number of the passengers weren’t vacationers at all but Greeks using the boat to commute from point A to point B.

Above all else, though, people were watching TV because it was showing a major soccer game between Greece and Germany, and no one wanted to miss it. When a Greek player scored a goal, news reached the crew up on the bridge, and they left the ship on autopilot and ran down to see the goal replayed. For a while, the captain would go on to dispute the claim that they all ran to the TV. Before admitting the truth, he claimed that he was actually napping, and his first officer was flirting with a passenger, and when that’s the cover story, you know they’re pretty ashamed of the truth. 

The ferry Express Samina in Piraeus in July 2000.

Peter J. Fitzpatrick

“Uh, we weren’t watching the game. We were just masturbating. Masturbating, I swear.”

The ship hit a rock and sank. It felt a lot like the Titanic, except the Titanic hit an iceberg that the crew had to constantly search for, while the Express Samina hit a charted rock that had its own lighthouse and could easily have been avoided. The sinking killed 80 people, including some of the crew — but not all of the crew. The captain survived and was sentenced to 16 years for manslaughter. 

See, that’s why the captain usually chooses to go down with the ship: To escape being held responsible. 

The Baseball Watcher Who Got Stabbed With a Foul Ball

If you’re watching a simple game like soccer, you can gather around the screen and cheer at the occasional game-changing goal. But if you’re baseball fan, you might prefer to personally keep track of every single movement using your own custom scorecard. Ideally, you should record everything using a cipher of your own invention, which no one else understands. 

Scorecard for first ever MLB perfect game

via Wiki Commons

Here, “H” represents the catcher. We don’t need to explain why. 

In 1902, amateur scorekeeping worked fairly similarly to how it does today, but the technology was a little more primitive. No, we aren’t talking about how some people today use apps. We’re talking about how, if you need to sharpen your scorekeeping pencil, you now have a dedicated pencil sharpener, with an internal blade safely buried in a lump of plastic. Back then, you had to sharpen your pencil with a giant knife.

At one game in Morristown, Ohio, a fan named Stanton Walker was dutifully keeping score, and he needed to sharpen his pencil. He asked his friend to pass him a knife. A foul ball now soared Walker’s way, right when he had the knife pointed at his own torso. The ball hit the knife and drove it into him, killing him. 

Rule number one of knives: Always point yours away from you. Point it toward your foe instead. If a ball suddenly appears and stabs them, it will be the perfect crime. 

The Guy Who Sat Back and Let Mount St. Helens Wash Over Him

Robert Landsburg didn’t plan to watch Mount St. Helens erupt. He just wanted to look at the mountain, and March 1980 seemed like an especially good time. The volcano had been exhibiting less activity the last few days, and that would make for some especially clear photos. True, some unusual seismic activity around the volcano pointed to something unusual going on underground, but that just made it more important than ever that someone snap photos of that weird bulge up on the volcano, which might mean something in the future.

The bulge turned out to mean something in the present. An earthquake hit the mountain, the bulge slid down and Mount St. Helens released a vast flow of lava. Landsburg ran to his car, but he had no chance of outrunning the lava, even with wheels. It was coming at him with a speed of some 400 miles an hour. So, he rewound his film, popped it into a canister and lay on top. When we found his body a couple of weeks later, we were able to retrieve the film and develop it:

Landsburg St. Helens photo

Robert Landsburg

He should have uploaded to the cloud.

As with much abstract art, you might not be able to discern what it literally depicts. But you do know how the image makes you feel, and that’s what’s important. 

 Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see.

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