They didn’t see it coming. Even though they killed themselves. Read our list of bizarre accidental deaths...


Through the looking glass


Garry Hoy was a lawyer who worked in a very tall building, the Dominion Centre in Toronto, Canada. On the 24th floor.

On 9 July 1993, Garry was showing a group of students around his office. While there, the students began to chat about what it must be like to work so high above ground level. Garry wanted to show them it was completely safe. So he took a run and threw himself against one of the 24th floor’s windows. Nothing happened.

But Garry didn’t stop there. He took a second run, threw himself at the window a second time. He shouldn’t have done. This time, the glass popped out of the frame, sending Garry straight out of the window and onto the ground 24 stories below.

Some say Garry’s tale is urban legend, but certainly, no-one was sued over his death.


Water torture

Close-up pouring water into glass on a blue background

The aim of the competition was simple – find the person who could drink the most water without going to the toilet. The winner would be rewarded with a brand new Nintendo Wii video game system. Hold your wee for a Wii.

It was January, 2007. And a local radio station in America had found 20 contestants for its brand new competition. One of them was Jennifer Strange, 28. Determined to win, Jennifer downed 7.5 litres of water live on air. She joked about the water making her look pregnant. But soon after, she started getting headaches and felt sick. She died at home later that afternoon.

The cause of death was water intoxication…where sudden intake of lots of water causes the brain to swell so it can’t regulate the breathing. And she hadn’t even won the competition. She’d come in second place. Her family have since won $10 million in compensation.


In search of justice

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

Back in 1871, a man from Ohio called Thomas McGehan stood trial for the murder of his friend, Thomas Myers. McGehan had hired one of the country’s top lawyers to represent him in court. His name was Clement Vallandigham.

Clement argued in the courtroom that McGehan hadn’t shot Myers dead. Myers, he claimed, had shot himself. To prove his point, Clement decided to re-enact the moment Myers had shot himself for the benefit of the jury, so they could see how it had been done.

Only, while he was demonstrating with a gun, Clement accidentally shot himself and died. He’d made his point, though. The defendant was cleared of murder.


Death by beard


Fashions come and go. And in Braunua, Austria, during the 16th century, beards were all the rage.

The town mayor was a man called Hans Steininger. His beard was 4.5ft long. Normally, he kept it rolled up in a leather pouch. But in the small hours of one morning in 1567, a fire broke out in the town. All the citizens had to be evacuated.

Hans didn’t have time to roll his beard up into the pouch. And as he ran, fleeing from the blaze he tripped on his own beard, fell to the floor and broke his neck.


Mercury misadventure

Shiny Mercury

Qin Shi Huang was the Emperor of China. Rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, he built the Great Wall of China, and had the Terracotta Army made, too.

But Qin was a man ruled by fear. The fear of dying. He was so desperate to live forever, he’d take any lotion or potion he thought would grant him eternity, immortality. The elixir of life.

One of the things he thought would make him immortal was mercury. So, in 210BCE, he swallowed a large quantity of the poisonous liquid. And died as a result.


Pulley the other one

sailboat pulley

When he was 51, Thomas Midgley Jr contracted the polio virus. It left him severely disabled and bedbound. But Thomas wasn’t going to let this hold him back.

He’d spent his professional life as an inventor, coming up with all sorts of things. So, from his bed he set to work. And soon, he’d come up with a unique system of ropes and pulleys that would allow him to lever himself in and out of bed.

The device was made for him and installed. But it wasn’t long before Thomas Midgley Jr had got caught up in all those ropes and pulleys and strangled himself to death.


Have you heard of any other bizarre accidental deaths?