Strange Deaths
  • 258: According to tradition, Saint Lawrence of Rome was roasted alive on a giant grill, during the persecution of Valerian
  • 1063: Béla I of Hungarydied when his wooden throne collapsed upon him.
  • 1771: Adolf Frederick, King of Sweden, died of digestion problems on 12 February 1771 after having consumed a meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, topped off with 14 servings of his favourite dessert: hetvägg served in a bowl of hot milk. He is thus remembered by Swedish schoolchildren as “the king who ate himself to death.”
  • 1687: Jean-Baptiste Lully, the French composer, died of a gangrenous abscess after piercing his foot with a staff while he was vigorously conducting a Te Deum. It was customary at that time to conduct by banging a staff on the floor.
  • 1783: James Otis, Jr., the American revolutionary, “often mentioned to friends and relatives that … he hoped his death would come from a bolt of lightning.” His hope was fulfilled on May 23, 1783 when lightning struck the chimney of a friend’s house in whose doorway he was standing.
  • 1814: London Beer Flood, seven people were killed (some drowned, some died from injuries, and one succumbed to alcohol poisoning) when 323,000 imperial gallons (388,000 US gal; 1,468,000 L) of beer in the Meux and Company Brewery burst out of its vats and gushed into the streets.
  • 1916: Grigori Rasputin, Russian mystic, was reportedly poisoned, shot in the head, shot three more times, bludgeoned, and then thrown into a frozen river after being castrated. When his body washed ashore, an autopsy showed the cause of death to be hypothermia; however, some now doubt the credibility of this account. Another account said that he was poisoned, shot, and stabbed, at which time he got up and ran off – and was later found to have drowned in a frozen river.
  • 1919: In the Boston Molasses Disaster, 21 people were killed and 150 were injured when a tank containing as much as 2,300,000 US gal (8,700,000 L) of molasses exploded, sending a wave traveling at approximately 35 mph (56 km/h) through part of Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
  • 1939: Finnish actress Sirkka Sari died when she fell down a chimney into a heating boiler. She had mistaken the chimney for a balcony.
  • 1959: In the Dyatlov Pass incident, nine ski hikers in the Ural Mountains abandoned their camp in the middle of the night, some clad only in their underwear despite sub-zero weather. Six died of hypothermia and three by unexplained injuries. The corpses showed no signs of struggle, but one had a fatal skull fracture, two had major chest fractures, and one was missing her tongue. Soviet investigators determined only that “a compelling unknown force” had caused the deaths. During the hikers’ memorials, several witnesses reported that the bodies had an “orangish tint” to them.
  • 1979: Robert Williams, a worker at a Ford Motor Co. plant, was the first known human to be killed by a robot, after the arm of a one-ton factory robot hit him in the head.
  • 1991: Edward Juchniewicz, a 76-year-old man from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, was killed when the unattended ambulance stretcher he was strapped to rolled down a grade and overturned.
  • 2010: Jimi Heselden, British owner of the Segway motorized scooter company, was killed when he accidentally drove off a cliff on a Segway at his estate at Thorp Arch near Boston Spa.
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