5 Pranks That Left the Prankster Dead

Here’s an idea: Pretend to be an animal, while on a hunting trip, where everyone is shooting animals
5 Pranks That Left the Prankster Dead

“It’s just a prank, bro” is an ironclad defense. If you declare some deed to be a prank, no one can hold you legally accountable.

But wait. There is one consequence pranksters can suffer, and nothing can shield them from it. This consequence is death, and it comes for us all eventually. It’ll come for you, much sooner than for most people, if you foolishly indulge in such stunts as...

Jokingly Dressing Up As Bigfoot

Randy Lee Tenley had a great idea in 2012. He’d put on a Bigfoot costume in a public place and trick some gullible passersby into reporting a sighting. He did not actually have a Bigfoot costume handy, but he was able to get himself a ghillie suit, which is a military costume that looks like this: 

Wildlife photographer in a ghillie suit

Giles Laurent

That looks more like Bigfoot than most confirmed Bigfoot photos. 

His first attempt caught the attention of no witnesses at all. So, he had to go somewhere more open, where eyes would fall on him for sure. He headed to Montana’s Highway 93. He stood right in the middle of the highway, and we must assume that he thought any driver who saw him would swerve out of the way in terror.

But the first car to show up, driven by a teenage girl, plowed into him and knocked him down. Then he was hit again, by a second car, driven by another teenage girl, as though to make sure they’d killed him properly. And that was the end of Randy Lee Tenley, who’d bravely died trying to keep the Sasquatch dream alive. 

Merrily Imitating a Boar

Our next prankster also impersonated a monster, but he wasn’t so reckless as to try this on a busy motorway. No, Camille Jenatzy merely tried this on a hunting trip, among a bunch of acquaintances armed with guns. He and his friends were staying in a cabin in the Belgian forest, and while they were indoors, he hid in a bush outside and made a sound like a boar. One of his friends — newspaper owner Alfred Madoux — leaned out of the window and shot him. 

The year was 1913, and Jenatzy was a famous daredevil. Normally, his stunts did not involve any kind of prank but racing cars, faster than was thought humanly possible. For a while, he held the record for the fastest speed ever achieved on land. This speed was 65.79 miles per hour. That might not sound like a lot today, but in 1899, in an electric vehicle, which looked like a soapbox car, it was unprecedented. 

Jules Beau

Cars didn’t even have brakes in those days. They decelerated using parasols. 

During his racing days, everyone said Jenatzy would end up dying in a Mercedes. They were right. When his friends realized the boar was him, they loaded him into a Mercedes to rush him to a hospital. He died on the way. 

Mischievously Robbing a Store

Sixty-four years later, another famous sportsman was shot dead while faking a threat against his friends. The perpetrator (and victim) this time was Italian soccer player Luciano Re Cecconi. In addition to playing for various clubs within the country, he played for the national team at the World Cup in 1974. Red-bearded Camille Jenatzy had been known as The Red Devil, while fair-haired Re Cecconi was nicknamed The Blond Angel

Luciano Re Cecconi signing autographs at the World Cup. Stuttgart, June 1974.

Sergio Del Grande

Devils and angels. Both denizens of the afterlife. 

One January day, Re Cecconi and a group of friends walked into a jewelry store owned by yet another friend. “Hands up!” he exclaimed. “This is a robbery.” 

The man behind the counter wasn’t his friend and the store’s owner but Bruno Tabocchini, a jeweler who worked there. Tabocchini pulled out a 7.65mm pistol and shot the apparent robber. As well-liked as Re Cecconi was, public sympathies were very much with Tabocchini in this matter. Within just three weeks, he was tried and acquitted, having acted in putative self-defense. 

Playfully Feigning Falling

Greg Gingrich figured he’d found the perfect spot for pretending to fall into the Grand Canyon. If he were to hop on the guard wall and pitch himself over in one direction, he’d look like a man about to plummet to his death, but he’d really land neatly onto a shallow slope. Then he’d be able to clamber back over the wall and laugh at how severely he’d briefly terrified his daughter.

 Grand Canyon National Park


It would be a fine prank. Nay — a grand prank. 

He got up on that wall as planned. His daughter saw him do this but was not especially scared, as this was clearly just a joke, so she walked right past him. Gingrich windmilled his arms like a man truly struggling for balance. 

Then he fell — in the opposite direction from what he’d planned. Instead of slipping to that slope, he fell 400 feet into the canyon. Not only did this inflict tragedy and trauma on his daughter, but it also forced a chore upon park employees. They had to hike to retrieve the body, and even locating it presented a challenge

Hilariously Giving a Novice the Plane

A cargo flight taking off from Paraguay in 1996 carried a crew of three, a single passenger and no actual cargo. It wasn’t going to be a profitable flight, so the pilot and the flight engineer figured they should take this opportunity for a little education and a little fun. For takeoff, they had the novice copilot take control. But the copilot, though he held the title of “copilot,” wasn’t qualified for this particular task.

Then, as the plane was taking off, the pilot killed two of its engines. “Stop joking like that,” said the copilot, words picked up by the flight recorder. But lifting off with unexpectedly low engine power was more than just a joke. The undercarriage was down, the flaps on the wings were set for full power, and with engines one and two not pulling their weight, the plane became unstable. It crashed into a field, killing all four of the men on the plane. 

LAC Colombia Flight 028


They were hoping grass would make for a soft landing, but no.

Well, at least it was just a cargo flight without a bunch of passengers along for the journey, right? Except, that field it crashed into happened to be filled with families playing volleyball. The crash killed 18 people down there, too, including 13 children. 

Maybe the senior members of the crew should have just put a whoopie cushion on the cockpit seat. That’s a fine prank, appreciated by children and adults alike. 

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

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