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Six Strange Ways to Die


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Six Strange Ways to Die

Maren Kate

We’ve heard it before, and seen the Facebook News headlines with incredulity: there are some really unusual ways to die! Here’s a collection of some of the most interesting ones we’ve stumbled upon in our death acceptance quest.


In 1919, there was an enormous metal tank located on Commercial Street in Boston’s North End which split open throwing rivets and daggers of steel in all directions. It was also filled with almost 2 million gallons of molasses. That wave of molasses was even more deadly than than the shards of metal or a tsunami. People overtaken by the molasses couldn’t swim in it, the weight was crushing and the wave carried deadly objects that would smash into whatever or whoever was in its path.

Imagine a wave of molasses, thick, sticky, suffocating molasses gushing down the street towards people at almost chest height. Anything living caught in the stuff struggled to work their way out of it, only to be pulled in deeper. 21 people were killed and over 150 were injured.

Half of the deaths happened as people, horses, dogs suffocated in the molasses. The other half occurred from injuries and infections resulting from the disaster. Death by molasses.


This popular TV 1960s-1970s show was often filmed in front of a live audience, to be televised later. ne of the guests was J.I. Rodale who was ‘Mr Organic Food.’ He played a major part in the food revolution—with his publishing company, Rodale Inc. publishing Men’s Health, Runner’s World, Organic Gardening and Farming and Prevention.

The New York Times Magazine published a piece about Rodale and his promotion of organic food on their cover calling him “The Guru of the Organic Food Cult”—which in turn got him that coveted guest spot on the Dick Cavett Show.

Dick Cavett described what happened next:

“He was extremely funny for half an hour, talking about health foods, and as a friendly gesture he offered me some of his special asparagus, boiled in urine. I think I said, “Anybody’s we know?” while making a mental note to have him back.

I recalled Rodale’s saying: ‘I’m in such good health [at age 72] that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way; “I’ve decided to live to be a hundred; and the inevitable “I never felt better in my life!”

I brought out the next guest, Pete Hamill, whose column ran in The New York Post. Rodale moved “down one” to the couch. As Pete and I began to chat, Mr. Rodale suddenly made a snoring sound, which got a laugh.

Comics would sometimes do that for a laugh while another comic was talking, pretending boredom. His head tilted to the side as Pete, in close-up as it happened, whispered audibly, “This looks bad.” The audience laughed at that; I didn’t, because I knew Rodale was dead.”

Mr. Organics and Health, died on the spot of a heart attack. Needless to say, that’s one Dick Cavett Show segment that was never televised.


Devon Staples played the Beauty & the Beast character, Gaston, at Disneyworld. He was celebrating July Fourth with friends and his brother, and picked up an unlit reloadable fireworks mortar tube.

According to witnesses, Devon had been drinking heavily. He told his friends that he wanted to do a stunt for them. They said they tried to talk him out of it but he placed the unlit mortar on his head and was waving a lighter around.

Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said:

“Apparently, he thought it was a great idea. His friends thought [they had] dissuaded him from doing it, and the next thing they knew, he ignited the fireworks and he was killed instantly.”

Cody Staples, Devon’s brother, was just feet away from him when the firework exploded.
He told the New York Daily News: “There was no rushing him to the hospital. There was no Devon left when I got there.”

A sad but morbid way to die, but a good reminder that fireworks are always dangerous, even when initially unlit.


Karel Soucek, a Canadian citizen, was a stuntman and an inventor. He did motorcycle stunts (like Evel Knievel) sailing his motorcycle over long lines of parked cars in front of audiences. Although he enjoyed these motorcycle tricks, he was really fascinated with thoughts of safely going over Niagara Falls.
He invented a cushioned steel barrel shaped capsule because, as he said, “…it was a real challenge.” (Source) In 1984, he actually successfully rode over Horseshoe Falls in his capsule invention, suffering just cuts and bruises when he landed. He was quickly cited for going over the Falls without a license, and had to pay a $500 fine.

On to bigger and better stunts, Soucek turned his eyes on the Houston Astrodome in 1985.
As part of a thrill show at the Astrodome, a special waterfall was set up from the ceiling some 180 feet high. They built a large 10 foot deep tank at the bottom and Soucek suspended himself in his capsule from the ceiling.

The stunt went south when the capsule started spinning and stagehands couldn’t control it. It was released, hit the rim of the pool instead to plunging into the middle and splintered. Soucek was fatally injured and although he was rushed to the hospital, he died the following day. He was only 37 years old.


Andrew Lee was a 33 year old fork-lift truck driver in the UK who loved to cook and wanted to be a professional chef.

One night he, his girlfriend and his GF’s brother were eating dinner and decided to challenge each other about who could eat the hottest hot sauce. Andrew ended up using an off-the-charts chili sauce that he had created with some red chilis that his father had grown especially for him. Even though he’d already eaten dinner, he ate the super hot sauce with some Dolmio (a brand of pasta sauce available in the UK).

After finishing (and winning the contest), he complained of terrible itching all over his body. He went to bed to try to sleep, but the next morning, he was discovered dead in his bed.
Reportedly, Andrew was in good health and actually passed an on-the-job physical shortly before he died. The postmortem showed no heart problems so the assumption is that he died from the heat of the chilis.

Mr Lee’s mother, Pamela, 61, said:

“He had used chillies in cooking but never made a sauce like this before.

“He tested the sauce after making it, stuck his finger in and went to wash it, saying, “Wow, that’s hot.””

“We don’t know what happened to him. Something has given him a cardiac arrest and we can only put it down to the chilli sauce.”

Toxicology tests are under way to see whether Mr Lee had a fatal reaction to the sauce.
Attempts to develop ever hotter varieties of chilli pepper have been condemned by health experts, who warn of potentially lethal effects.


Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford was a Appalachian pastor of a Holiness Pentecostal church in West Virginia that practiced snake handling as part of their religious practices.

Most pastors that handled snakes like this were bitten several times…they believed that if they were bitten, they should trust in God to heal them and not seek any medical attention.

So on a beautiful Sunday in May, 2012, Wolford’s church held an outdoor service at the Panther Wildlife Management Area, a state park about 80 miles from Bluefield, West Virginia. He posted invitations on Facebook inviting his followers to attend.

His sister, Robin Vanover, who was present on that Sunday, described what happened about 30 minutes after the service started and after Wolford started handling a deadly timber rattlesnake.
“He laid it on the ground,” Vanover said in an interview, “and he sat down next to the snake, and it bit him on the thigh.”

Wolford only lived 10 hours after he was bitten, suffering increasingly agonizing pain as his kidneys shut down and then his heart stopped.

Ironically, Wolford was the second generation of snake-handling pastor to die this way – his father had died in the same fashion. Many boys hero worship and imitate their fathers, often by choosing the same careers. But, a son dying in the same bizarre way his father died is a creepy first to me.