Bizarre Deaths

I found these stories on the BBC News site here. I'm not going to reblog all of these, so please read that page for all the extra crazy.

Some of these are very unpleasant, so warning: triggers for death-related nastiness.

1.) Killed by a mouse

"An equation familiar to anyone who's sat through a few old episodes of Tom and Jerry. Women + Mice = localised uproar. It's a sexist old TV trope, of course, but it played out for real in England in 1875, when a mouse dashed suddenly on to a work table in a south London factory.

"Into the general commotion which followed, a gallant young man stepped forward and seized the rodent. For a glorious moment, he was the saviour of the women who'd scattered. It didn't last. The mouse slipped out of his grasp, ran up his sleeve and scurried out again at the open neck of his shirt. In his surprise, his mouth was agape. In its surprise, the mouse dashed in. In his continued surprise, the man swallowed.

"'That a mouse can exist for a considerable time without much air has long been a popular belief and was unfortunately proved to be a fact in the present instance,' noted the Manchester Evening News, 'for the mouse began to tear and bite inside the man's throat and chest, and the result was that the unfortunate fellow died after a little time in horrible agony.'

2.) Killed by a coffin


"Henry Taylor died an ironic death. He was a pall bearer in London's Kensal Green Cemetery, and was midway through a funeral when he caught his foot on a stone and stumbled. As he fell to the ground, the other bearers let go of the coffin, which fell on poor, prone Henry.

"'The greatest confusion was created amongst the mourners who witnessed the accident,' said the Illustrated Police News in November 1872, 'and the widow of the person about to be buried nearly went into hysterics.'

3.) Killed by a drunken bear

A quick quiz. You are offered a bear to keep as a pet. Do you:

a) Turn it down. It's cruel to keep a bear as a pet

b) Accept it. Perhaps you might teach it to drink booze too

In Vilna (now Vilnius), then in Russia, in 1891, there was a man who would have answered b). The bear was large but tame, but it had a taste for vodka. One day it bustled into a village tavern and grabbed a keg of vodka. The owner of the inn, Isaack Rabbanovitch, objected, and tried to snatch it back.

It would be an understatement to say this was an error. In the chaotic scenes that ensued the infuriated animal hugged to death the tavern keeper, then did the same to his two sons and daughter. The villagers found the drunken animal asleep on the floor in a pool of blood and alcohol, surrounded by its victims. The bear was immediately shot.

4.) Killed by a bet

"It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. In the Spanish region of Navarre in 1879, two Frenchmen struck a bet to see which was the hardiest. The terms were these. After fasting for a day, they'd drink 17 glasses of wine each, then walk from Pamplona to a village six miles away. It was the height of summer, just to make it that extra bit more interesting.

"As one was far younger than the other, they hit on a handicap system – for every year's advantage the twenty-something had over his middle-aged rival, he'd carry a pound of dirt. So off they went. Both lurching towards their goal – one staggering under the extra burden of 16lbs of earth.

"They hadn't gone far, needless to say, when the wager took a dark turn. The elder man collapsed and died. The younger, reported the Manchester Evening News at the time, 'escaped death only by the skin of his teeth'.

5.) Killed through false jealousy

The article didn't go into detail about this illustration from November 9, 1872. I read the entire issue of the Illustrated Police News that it was featured in, but they didn't have any text about it, either. However, this illustration is hilarious enough to stand on its own:

All we know is that this is a spurned mistress who mistook the mannequin for a love rival. I don't know why he has a woman's mannequin, why he's dressing it in his bedroom, or how she mistook someone without a head as a rival, but there you go. Death by dummy (pun intended).

Also, why is her dress so short? That's some SERIOUS leg she's showing.

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One Response to Bizarre Deaths

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