Last year our strange death report uncovered a disturbing trend–death by selfie. The 2014 list identified 10 cases where people died trying to get that perfect vanity shot. We thought that was a lot. As it turns out, that was just the beginning. This year, our Strange Deaths 2015 report identifies 27 deaths that can be attributed to taking photos. (Jump to the full list of selfie deaths below.) It’s a pretty good bet that there are even more than that.
Most selfie deaths happen when a foot slips or the subject loses his or her balance. But there are plenty of cases where a pose with a gun or other weapon goes wrong. While it’s hard to believe, two young men actually thought it would be a good idea to pull the pin on a grenade and take a selfie of it. And then there are cases such as David González Lopez who stopped for a selfie while taking part in the running of the bulls. It did not turn out well.
The problem of selfie deaths has gotten so bad in Russia that in July of this year the government launched a comprehensive PR campaign to educate people against the dangers of risky selfie-taking. It’s hard to know if the campaign is working but we do know that people are still climbing to dangerous heights, scaling the tops of trains, and putting themselves in harm’s way in record numbers. All to get a selfie.
Speaking of scaling the tops of trains. This year’s report shows a frightening number of people killed while posing for photos near various forms of transportation. Train tracks are particularly inviting to both amateur and professional photographers. The death of 16-year-old John DeReggi of Maryland who was killed while posing on train tracks with his girlfriend was heavily covered in the media. The tragic story provides the perfect example of what can go wrong when you underestimate (or ignore) the risks.
Of course, not all transportation-related deaths have to do with photography. Take, for example, the mind-boggling situation of the woman who was killed when she stepped between two subway cars to urinate. The cars started to move and she was fatally struck by the train. And then there is the death of a young man who hit a car while going nearly 60 mph in a shopping cart. We also learned of the tragic story of a Chinese mother who lost her life saving her son on a malfunctioning department store escalator. (Jump to the Trains, Planes, & Automobiles list.)
This year we also saw plenty of strange deaths caused by wildlife. It’s not too surprising to find lion attacks on the list but you just don’t expect to see an aggressive camel trampling its handler. The busiest beasts were, of course, sharks. We found 9 confirmed fatalities due to shark attacks. (Jump to the Wild Kingdom list.)
No list would be complete without those deaths that somehow defy description. This year we saw bubonic plague, fatal fireworks, and a deadly cryotherapy machine. Sadly, we also saw two young boys drowned when their camping tent somehow fell into the family pool. (Jump to Weird Deaths.)
Full List of Strange Deaths 2015
Strange Deaths 2015: Selfie and Other Photo Deaths
- 21-year-old Cheynne Holloway fell to her death at Northcliff Hill, Johannesburg. Holloway was waiting as her male companion set up a tripod for a selfie. January 2015. Click to read the story.
- Two young men died in the Ural mountains as they pulled the pin from a hand grenade to take a selfie, which remained as evidence of the circumstances of their deaths. January 2015. Click to read the story.
- Three Indian students aged 20 to 22 stopped on their way to visit the Taj Mahal to get a “daredevil selfie” in front of a speeding train. Unfortunately, they were unable to clear the track in time and died at the scene. January 2015. Click to read the story.
- Seven young men, two of them brothers, were boating on Mangrui Lake in India when they stood on the side of the boat to take selfies. They drowned when the boat overturned. March 2015. Click to read the story.
- A Russian woman was attempting a selfie when a 9mm pistol loaded with rubber bullets discharged and she was hit in the head by a richochet. At the time the pistol went off she was holding the gun to her head. May 2015. Click to read the story.
- An 18-year old Romanian girl was posing on top of a train when she touched a life wire and burst into flames. May 2015. Click to read the story.
- A teenager climbed on a railway bridge in the Ryazan region in Russia to take a selfie. He died as a result of touching live wires. May 2015. Click to read the story.
- A 15-year old Chechnyan boy climbed a concrete fence to capture a selfie. The wall gave way and crushed him. May 2015. Click to read the story.
- A 21-year-old man from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, fell into the crater of Mount Merapi and died while attempting to take a selfie. May 2015. Click to read story.
- While taking a selfie at a cliff in Bali, Mohamed Aslam Shahul lost his balance and fell to his death. May 2015. Click to read the story.
- 12-year-old Lilou Gaude, a member of her father’s Bordeaux Adrenaline acrobatics troupe, died when she fell during a photo shoot at a French lighthouse. June 2015. Click to read the story.
- A man was killed on Brecons Beacon in Wales when his selfie stick was struck by lightning. July 2015. Click to read the story.
- A 21-year-old Russian graduate student fell to her death while trying to take a selfie on a bridge in the Moscow City financial district. July 2015. Click to read the story.
- In what turned out to be a fatal lapse in judgment, David González Lopez stopped to take a selfie. The problem came when he turned his back on a stampede of raging bulls during the annual running of the bulls in Spain. August 2015. Click to read the story.
- While taking a selfie on a staircase at the Taj Mahal, a Japanese tourist fell to his death. September 2015. Click to read the story.
- A 17-year old Russian boy fell 9 floors to his death while attempting to take a selfie from a rooftop in Vologda. September 2015. Click to read the story.
- A young Indian engineering student fell 60 feet to his death when the rock he was standing on cracked and gave way. He was attempting a selfie at Kolli Hills in Tamil Nadu. September 2015. Click to read the story.
- 19-year-old Deleon Alonso Smith of Houston died when the loaded gun he was holding in his selfie pose discharged, shooting him in the throat. September 2015. Click to read the story.
- 16-year old John DeReggi and his girlfriend were taking photos on a train track when he was struck and killed by an Amtrack train. September 2015. Click to read the story.
- Zoe Woolmer, a 23-year old visitor from the UK, died while taking a photo at Kings Canyon in Australia. The photo was supposed to look as if the woman was hanging on the cliff. October 2015. Click to read the story.
- A father and son drowned in a canal in the Balaghat region of India. The son was taking a selfie with his brother when the two fell in the canal. The father went in to rescue them. One of the boys was rescued. October 2015. Click to read the story.
- While attempting a selfie on top of a train, a 14-year old Barcelona boy touched a live wire and was electrocuted. October 2015. Click to read the story.
- Two Indian engineering students slipped down the side of the Narmada Canal while taking selfies and drowned. November 2015. Click to read the story.
- The 22-year old Pakistani railway employee died in an effort to get the perfect selfie. Unfortunately, the man was posing in front of a moving train at Rawalpindi. December 2015. Click to read the story.
- An 18-year old Indore, India resident was killed as he attempted to snap a selfie with a moving train in the background. December 2015. Click to read the story.
- A 25-year old California photographer was working with a model on a train track when he didn’t see an oncoming train. July 2015. Click to read the story.
Strange Deaths 2015: Wild Kingdom
- An aggressive camel trampled two people, including the owner of the camel farm. The offending camel was euthanized. January 2015. Click to read the story.
- At least 75 people who were attending a funeral in Mozambique died from drinking traditional “Phombe” beer that was tainted with crocodile bile. Among the reported dead was the woman who made the beer. January 2015. Click to read the story.
- A woman in her early 20s was attacked by a shark off of Reunion Island. She attempted to fight the shark off but suffered a cardiac arrest and died the following day. February 2015. Click to read the story.
- A 41-year-old Japanese surfer was killed by a great white shark at Shelly Beach in New South Wales, Australia. Tadashi Nakahara bled to death after the shark took both of his legs. February 2015. Click to read the story.
- A German tourist who was swimming at a beach in the Red Sea resort town of Marsa Alam, Egypt, was killed when a shark attacked him. The shark took his leg which lead to the death. March 2015. Click to read the story.
65-year old Margaret Cruse was snorkeling at a popular spot off of Maui when she was fatally attacked by a shark. Her body was found about 200 yards from shore. April 2015. Click to read the story.
- A shark killed a 13-year-old boy who was surfing on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. The boy was surfing with 6 others at the time. April 2015. Click to read the story.
- A 43-year-old Italian man was killed by a shark in Cagliari. The man had been diving. It took several days for the body to surface. April 2015. Click to read the story.
- A man who was attacked by a shark in New Caledonia died from his injuries. The type of shark was not confirmed but it was suspected to be a tiger or bull shark. May 2015. Click to read the story.
- A woman touring Lion Park in South Africa was mauled to death by a lion while she was in her car. The car windows were open and the victim was taking photos when she was attacked by the animal. June 2015. Click to read the story.
- A Hawaiian boat captain dove into the water to spear a billfish and was accidentally impaled on the bill of a swordfish in Honokohau Harbor. June 2015. Click to read the story.
- An Orange, Texas man was killed and eaten by an alligator when he decided to go for a swim in an area known to be infested with alligators. July 2015. Click to read the story.
- A Tasmanian diver who was on a scallop collecting diving expedition with his daughter was killed when he was attacked by a shark. It is suspected that the killer was a great white who has previously attacked others in the area. July 2015. Click to read the story.
- A professional guide was leading a group on a walking safari in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park when he was attacked by a lion. The guide was standing between the guests and the lions when the fatal attack came. August 2015. Click to read the story.
- A shark in Mozambique is being credited for killing two people. The first is a professional fisherwoman who was catching shrimp near Nhaduga. The second was a mother who was fishing for her family in shallow waters. October 2015. Click to read the story.
- An 18-year old Texas man used a cobra to commit suicide. He let the snake bite him repeatedly while inside his car. November 2015. Click to read the story.
- A man who had been involved in a shipwreck off the coast of Aruba was fatally wounded by a shark. December 2015. Click to read the story.
Strange Deaths 2015: Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
- The body of a Nigerian man was found in the wheel well during an aircraft inspection at the Lagos airport. The man was assumed to be a stowaway. March 2015. Read the story.
- The body of a man who stowed away on a British Airways plane departing from Johannesburg, South Africa was found on a building near Heathrow Airport in London. He had apparently hidden himself in the plane’s wheel well. June 2015. Read the story.
A 30-year old Chinese woman was killed when she tried to save her son when a footplate on an escalator collapsed. She successfully moved the child off the stairs before falling into the opening. July 2015. Read the story.
- Two children who were allowed to play on train tracks during a family picnic were killed when struck by the train. The parents of the children were brought up on charges for allowing the girls to play in such a dangerous area. July 2015. Read the story.
- The body of an assumed stowaway was found in the landing gear of a plan that had traveled from Africa to Amsterdam. September 2015. Read the story.
- A woman who was urinating between two Manhattan subway cars, fell to her death when the train started to move. She was struck by the train and died at the scene. September 2015. Read the story.
- Swedish student Robin Wahlgren crashed into an oncoming car while riding in a shopping cart in Sydney, Australia. The cart was reported to be going up to 50mph. Wahlgren was thrown from the cart and died as a result of his injuries. A friend was riding with him. His injuries were not fatal. November 2015. Read the story.
Strange Deaths 2015: Just Plain Weird
- In January, it was reported that 9 people had already died from eating the Japanese treat, mochi. January 2015. Read the story.
- Troy Earl Smith Jr. died when the gun he was carrying in his jacket pocket discharged. At the time, he was riding his bike in St. Petersburgh, Florida. March 2015. Read the story.
Brothers Alvaro and Gonzalo Ramiro were zipped into a camping tent when it fell into the family pool. The two Texas boys drowned before help could make it to them. July 2015. Read the story.
- A Columbus, Texas man was killed when he shot a firework off his chest. July 2015. Read the story.
- A Billings, Montana man was killed when a mortar-type firework went off course and struck him and inflicting a fatal injury. July 2015. Read the story.
- A 55-year-old Japanese man died after he was stabbed in the eye by a colleague during an argument. The weapon–an umbrella. July 2015. Read the story.
- In August, an elderly Utah man died from a rare case of the bubonic plague. The name of the victim was not released. Authorities did advise area residents to avoid contact with rodents and other carriers. August 2015. Read the story.
- Devon Staples of Calais, Maine, was killed instantly when he put a reloadable fireworks mortar tube on his head. Unfortunately, the fireworks he loaded in the tube were upside down. Devon worked at Disney World where he portrayed the character Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. August 2015. Read the story.
- A 16-year-old Honduran teen had been pronounced dead and her family buried her. During the service, they hear noises and opened her coffin. Apparently, she had not been dead at all. She did die at the hospital after being rescued. August 2015. Read the story.
- Chelsea Ake-Salvacion of Henderson, Nevada died when the settings she used on the cryotherapy machine in the salon where she worked were improperly set. She was using the machine alone and was not discovered until it was too late. October 2015. Read the story.