Death is a depressing and reflective aspect of life. In history, it is generally only a date, the end of an era or life, and perhaps a brief anecdote. If we are aware of a death, it is generally because it involved a historical figure or signified the beginning or end of something.
However, we occasionally learn about deaths through the stories themselves. And, in some cases, it is the stories of death that have made the persons involved famous. These are some of the strangest end-of-life scenarios we encountered in 2021.
A Doctor Was Decapitated By An Elevator
In 2003, Dr. Hitoshi Nikaidoh was decapitated as he stepped onto an elevator at Christus St. Joseph Hospital in Houston, TX. According to a witness inside the elevator, the doors closed as Nikaidoh entered, trapping his head inside the elevator with the rest of him still outside. His body was later found at the bottom of the elevator shaft, while the upper portion of his head, severed just above the lower jaw, was found in the elevator.
A subsequent investigation revealed that improper electrical wiring installed by a maintenance company several days earlier had effectively bypassed all the elevator’s safeguards, thus enabling it to move under any circumstances.
Hungary’s György Dózsa Suffered A Royal Roasting
György Dózsa established himself as “Prince of the People” during the first years of the 1500s, tasked with freeing Hungary from oppressive nobles. He rallied peasants in towns like Karcag and Cegléd, purportedly giving speeches to inspire them to join his cause:
The Hungarian nobles, who keep you in servitude, do not consider you as citizens, but treat you as slaves… Whatever grows on the fields, thanks to your toil and sweat, belongs to them. You plow the soil, plant the grapes, breed cattle and sheep so that the nobility can profit from your labor. What is left for you is serfdom and misery.
Dózsa and his followers were initially successful, but he was later captured and executed. His demise was especially heinous, as the “Peasant King” was sentenced to sit on a heated iron throne while wearing an iron crown and holding a scepter – both burning hot.
As Dózsa sat on a heated metal throne, his men – who had been starved for the occasion – watched as executioners used hot pliers to pull off his flesh. They were then told to tear Dózsa with their teeth. Those who didn’t swallow what they’d pulled off were slain.
At Yellowstone, a man tried to soak in a thermal spring and was dissolved.
In June 2016, 23-year-old Colin Scott and his sister Sable were visiting Yellowstone National Park when he decided to soak in a thermal pool. The pair left the defined boardwalk area and entered into dangerous territory. This area was forbidden from guest access due to the danger of its geothermal activity.
When they reached a pool, Scott attempted to dip his toe in to test the water, but slipped and fell in completely. Search and rescue was called off after several hours when authorities determined that, due to the water’s acidity and heat, any remains were most likely dissolved.
Inalchuq Was Executed With Molten Silver
Inalchuq was the governor of Otrar, located in the Khwarezmian Empire in the Middle East, during the early 13th century. As Genghis Khan extended his influence across Central Asia, he sent a group of merchants to Otrar in 1218. Inalchuq, suspicious of the group, executed them and took all of their goods.
After he heard about what happened, Genghis Khan sent envoys to demand reparations, but Inalchuq refused; he had the ambassadors executed as well, prompting the Mongolian ruler to send a military response.
Genghis Khan and his Mongols unleashed an onslaught on Otrar, one that led to an extended siege. After several months, the Mongols breached the city walls, plundered Otrar, and took many of its inhabitants captive.
Inalchuq suffered a different fate, however. He reportedly had molten silver poured into his eyes, ears, and, by some tellings, down his throat.
A Man Tried To Prove That A Window Was Unbreakable – Unfortunately, The Window Frame Wasn’t
Garry Hoy worked for a law firm in Toronto, Ontario. The 38-year-old corporate and securities lawyer had a bizarre party trick that he enjoyed demonstrating for visitors to his office on the 24th floor. To demonstrate the strength of the unbreakable office windows, Hoy would launch his body at them and bounce off.
On July 9, 1993, he was giving a tour of the firm to young law students when he decided to showcase his trick. Unfortunately, while the glass did not break, the entire window popped out of its frame, and Hoy fell to his demise.
The Inventor Of Leaded Gasoline And Freon Was Strangled By Another One Of His Inventions
Thomas Midgley, Jr. was responsible for popularizing the use of two of the most dangerous substances of the 20th century. He helped popularize the use of lead in gasoline (and contracted lead poisoning while working on the project), led the team that discovered freon, and helped popularize the use of chlorofluorocarbons in refrigeration. Both lead and chlorofluorocarbons have been cited as particularly harmful pollutants in the atmosphere.
When Midgley was 51 and disabled from illness, he devised an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys to lift himself out of bed. He became entangled in his invention and strangled to death.
Owen Hart Perished In A Wrestling Stunt Gone Wrong
Owen Hart wrestled around the world before joining the World Wrestling Federation (forerunner of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.), where he took part in bouts under his real name and as The Blue Blazer. He was from a family of wrestlers, including his brother Bret, with whom he faced off numerous times throughout their careers.
Hart joined the WWF, during the 1980s and was scheduled to take part in Over the Edge, a pay-per-view event in Kansas City, MO, on May 23, 1999. In a match with Charles Wright (as The Godfather), Hart (as The Blue Blazer) was supposed to be lowered into the ring from the rafters high above. He wore a harness and a cape, but something malfunctioned and the wrestler fell nearly 80 feet to his death. He landed on the ropes of the ring before falling into the ring itself.
The TV audience didn’t see Hart’s death, but 16,000 attendees did. A witness later recalled:
We thought it was a doll at first… We thought they were just playing with us. We were really shocked when we found out that it was no joke.
Commentators told viewers at home that the fall was not part of the performance, as attendees watched medical personnel work on Hart. One of the paramedics who treated Hart indicated the harness “didn’t get hooked on to him. He thought it was hooked on.”
Paramedics transported Hart to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. The accident led to a legal battle between his family and the WWE, which they settled in 2000. The Harts also declined having him inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
One additional detail about Hart’s untimely passing that has come to light involves his final words. According to individuals at the event, they heard him yell “Look out!” as he fell – a warning to those below.
Simon Hannebaert Of Audomarois Was Broken On The Wheel Before Being Drawn And Quartered
In 1302, Simon Hannebaert of Audomarois, France, endured two of the most severe punishments imaginable: being put on the breaking wheel, and being drawn and quartered. The twofold harshness of his final days was precipitated by his excessive drinking and loose tongue.
According to sources, Hannebaert expressed support for the count of Flanders taking over parts of Artois – something no one appreciated. As a result, he was dragged from a tavern and put on the wheel.
This punishment meant an extended period of pain. Descriptions of the wheel’s use throughout history detail the stretching of limbs, which were beaten and pressed to break the bones. It was only when attention was paid to the victim’s torso or head that some sort of merciful blow could lead to death.
Drawing and quartering involved connecting each of a victim’s legs and arms to horses, which then ran in different directions to stretch the body until it separated into four sections. In the case of Hannebaert, he was reportedly hanged and his body burned when everything else was done.
Martin Of Aragon May Have Died After Gorging On A Goose
As the ruler of Aragon from 1394 to 1410, Martin also held Valencia, Sardinia, Corsica, and later, Sicily. His passing in 1410 left a void in leadership because he had no direct heirs, but details about how he passed are unclear. Some stories attribute his demise to overindulgence.
After Martin “too greedily” ate an entire goose, “he lay groaning on his bed” when his favorite jester, Borra, “skipped into the room with a merry air, and the monarch inquired of him, whence he came.” Borra then told a joke that caused the King to laugh so hard that he literally busted a gut.
The Inventor Of A ‘Parachute Suit’ Died In A Test Jump Off The Eiffel Tower
Franz Reichelt was an Austrian-born tailor living in France, and was known as an inventor and parachuting pioneer. He earned the nickname “The Flying Tailor” for developing a wearable parachute suit.
In 1911, Colonel Lalance of the Aéro-Club de France offered a prize of 10,000 francs to anyone who could create a safety parachute, and Reichelt was keen to put his interests and knack for invention to use. He developed his suit and successfully tested it on several dummies, dropping them from the fifth floor of a building.
He finally received permission to perform his test at the Eiffel Tower, but when he got there, he made it clear that it would be him in the suit and not the dummy. On February 4, 1912, Reichelt jumped from the tower. His parachute wrapped around him and he plummeted 187 feet to his demise. The event was captured and shown on newsreels.
Arthur Aston Was Beaten To Death With His Own Wooden Leg
Arthur Aston began his military service fighting for Russia and Poland during the 1610s, shifting to serve in Sweden and Germany until 1639. At that point, he returned to his native England and, three years later, provided support to King Charles I when the English Civil War broke out.
As Charles I fought to hold onto the throne, Aston went to war against Parliamentarian forces at the battles of Edgehill, Reading, Bristol, and Newbury during 1642 and 1643. By the late 1640s, after Charles I had been executed and Oliver Cromwell took control of the government, Aston was in Ireland with fellow loyal Royalists.
As Cromwell set about taking control of Ireland, he unleashed an attack at Drogheda in 1649, where Aston had been appointed governor. By some accounts, Aston refused to surrender. There are also indications he did negotiate with Cromwell after being chased to Millmount Fort. Despite securing a promise that he and his men would be safe if they disarmed, Cromwell’s men massacred everyone. Aston’s head was bludgeoned with his own wooden leg, “which the soldier had torn away in the belief that he had concealed treasure in it.” Ashton had lost a leg earlier in his life due to an accident.
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke Of Clarence, Supposedly Drowned In A Vat Of Wine
George Plantagenet was the brother of both King Edward IV and Richard III of England. George vacillated between Yorkist and Lancastrian factions during the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century, ultimately conspiring against Edward in 1477. He was charged with treason and kept in the Tower of London (while the other conspirators were executed).
He later stood trial for treason, appearing before Parliament in 1478. They found him guilty and sentenced him to execution; according to law and custom alike, it would have been beheading. George, however, was supposedly drowned in a vat of Malmsey wine. This was, as the story goes, because he’d once made a joke about dying that way should he ever be executed.