Curious and Unusual Deaths
Three of the Strangest Deaths History has ever Recorded and the Science that Explains Them

Curious and Unusual Deaths
Three of the Strangest Deaths History has ever Recorded and the Science that Explains Them

Curious and Unusual Deaths is a half-hour series that presents some of the strangest, most grizzly, tragic or simply avoidable deaths from across the globe and throughout time.

Each episode is themed by location (At Work, At Home, On The Water, etc.) and brings noted experts to explain the science behind the deaths.

Every episode presents three of the strangest deaths history has ever recorded –– and the science that explains them.

From the bible salesman who is struck by lightning under a cloudless sky to the pet lover who falls into a cat dish with less than three-inches of water, from a bricklayer who is provoked to laugh for 25 minutes straight to a French tailor who tests an experimental glider off the Eiffel Tower and a couple who endure 86 hours of holding each other close - all with fatal results.

At Home

Cat Dish Drowning: In 2003 New Zealander Peter John Robinson slipped outside his home, lost his balance and tumbled into a cat dish, where he drowned in 4cm of water.

Lava Lamp Explosion: In 1998 Phillip Quinn attempted to make his lava lamp more efficient by heating it on the stove. This put the contents of the lamp under intense pressure thereby creating a bomb that eventually exploded and killed him.

Laughing Himself To Death: In 1975 Richard Mitchell sat down for an evening with his favourite comedy series, “The Goodies”.  One sketch made him laugh for over 25 minutes continuously, eventually stopping his heart and killing him.

From the Water

Poison Pill: Bando Mitsugorio was one of Japan's most revered Kabuki actors from the 1930s until his death in January 1975. However, for all his fame during his life, Bando is probably best-known for his legendary death.

At age 68, he visited a Kyoto restaurant with friends and ordered four livers of the fugu fish, which is widely-known to be extremely toxic. Claiming that he could survive their poisons, he ate the livers and, after seven hours, died of paralysis and convulsions. 

Sting Judy: In the Florida Keys, giant eagle stingray flew 6 ft. out of the water and landed on the face of a female sailor, killing her instantly. However, it was not the poisonous sting that took her life, but in fact the blunt force trauma of the eagly ray's hit.

Over a Barrel: In 1920, 58 yr old part time daredevil, Charles Stephens, constructed what he believed was a foolproof vessel to carry him over Niagara Falls. He accounted for buoyancy, oxygen and impact, and made it safely over the falls. However, Stephens was remiss in devising his exit strategy and drowned inside the barrel.

By Their Own Invention

The Flying Tailor: On 4 February 1912, Franz Reichelt tested a prototype of a potentially revolutionary invention - his combination overcoat/parachute. He decided to try it out from the Eiffel tower and plunged to his death. 

The Glowing Scientist: In 1903 Marie Curie pioneered the discovery of radioactivity and even coined the term. She went on to discover Polonium and Radium and became the first person to win the Nobel Prize twice. However, after experimenting with radium for over three decades, Currie succumbed to its devastating effects - radiation poisoning - in 1934.  

Hoarding To Death: Homer Lusk Collyer and Langley Collyer were two American brothers who had became famous because of their compulsive hoarding. Langley had built intricate booby traps and tunnels around their home in Harlem, New York, to keep invaders from stealing the 100 tonnes plus of rubbish they had amassed over several decades. 1947 both were found dead in their brownstone under the thousands of items they were attempting to protect.

Against the Clock

Tennessee Time Bomb: In 1905, Jack Daniels, the founder of a Tennessee whiskey distillery, was trying desperately to remember the combination to his office safe. Daniels became increasingly frustrated over the morning and eventually kicked the iron safe. This led to an injured left toe, causing an infection, which in turn resulted in gangrene and then six years later perotinitis, (blood poisoning) which he eventually died from. On 10 October 1911 this incident was a subject of a marketing poster with the line "Moral: Never go to work early."

50 Hours To Die: In 2005, Lee Seung Seop, a 28 year old South Korean, achieved global notoriety when he visited a nearby internet cafe and proceeded to play StarCraft for almost fifty consecutive hours. Ultimately, from both exhaustion and dehydration he induced heart failure and went into cardiac arrest. He died shortly thereafter at a local hospital. A friend commented: "He was a game addict. We all knew about it. He couldn't stop himself."    

Frozen Fall from Jet: In 1993 two men in red coats dropped from the undercarriage of an Air France Boeing 777 as the plane approached Shanghai airport after a flight from Paris. One of the men smashed through the roof of a house, leaving a large gash in the ceiling. The two, described as Caucasians in their 30s, had apparently suffered from frostbite, leading investigators to the conclusion that they were airplane stowaways.

At Work

Struck Down: On what appeared to be a clear day in Southern Florida, Mateo Ortiz Ayala set out to sell his bibles door to door. Marian was suddenly struck by a bolt of dry lightning, seemingly from nowhere.

Manhattan Mistake: In 1945 scientist Harry K. Daghlain was working on the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb.  During one of his experiments Daghlain accidentally dropped a brick of tungsten carbide onto a sphere of plutonium. The two struck one another producing a nuclear reaction resulting in the first ever “criticality” death. 

Falling Lawyer: In July of 1993 Canadian senior lawyer, Garry Hoy, ran into a tempered glass window on the 24th floor of the Toronto Dominion Tower. He did this to prove it was “unbreakable”. Unfortunately he crashed through it, falling to his death in front of a room full of interns.

In a Contest

Holding It In: Californian 28 year old Jennifer Strange entered a radio station contest to see who could drink the most water without peeing. The prize - a Wii console. Within 24 hours she died of water intoxication.

Spitting Contest: Standing on the 11th floor balcony of his apartment, Ameer Jinah, an engineering student from Ottawa, calculated he would need a running start to win a spitting contest. He underestimated his momentum, flew over the balcony and died.

Dancing Death: In 1923 Homer Morehouse participated in a popular dance marathon. After enduring 87 hours on his feet, Morehouse collapsed and died, placing him fifth in the contest.