UNUSUAL DEATHS


Henry Ziegland of Honey Grove, Texas, walked out on his girlfriend one day in 1893. Her brother did his "heroic" duty and shot Ziegland. Ziegland, however, was barely injured by the bullet, which only grazed his face before embedding itself in the trunk of a tree in front of which Ziegland was standing. The brother, thinking himself avenged, ended his own life with the same weapon.

Twenty years later, in 1913, Ziegland decided to remove the tree from his property. Unable to perform the task manually, he decided to use dynamite. In the explosion, the bullet, which had originally been intended for Ziegland, became dislodged with such a catapulting jolt that it was shot violently into Ziegland's head, killing him at last (unverified).



In Prague, Czechoslovakia, a woman who leapt out of a third-floor window after learning of her husband's unfaithfulness. The husband, entering the building just as she jumped, broke her fall. She survived. He died on the spot (unverified).



Then there's the thirty-six-year-old San Diego woman who, in 1977, plotted to kill her twenty-three-year-old Marine drill instructor husband for his $20,000 insurance policy. She dropped the venom sac from a tarantula in a blackberry pie she baked, but he only ate a few bites. Next she tried electrocuting him in the shower, but that too failed. So did attempts to kill him with lye, run him down in a car, inject an air bubble into his veins, and slip amphetamines in his beer while driving in hopes he would hallucinate and crash.

Exasperated, she enlisted a twenty-six-year-old female companion in crime. Together, they beat the husband over the head with metal weights as he slept. It was only at that point that he finally succumbed (unverified).



On Memorial Day of 1987, a forty-year-old Louisiana lawyer stood up in his boat as a thunderstorm approached. "Here I am," he taunted the skies, raising his hands over his head. A bolt of lightning struck, killing him instantly. The lawyer's first name was Graves (unverified).



A fierce gust of wind blew 45-year-old Vittorio Luise's car into a river near Naples, Italy, in 1983. He managed to break a window, climb out and swim to shore -- where a tree blew over and killed him (unverified).



Mike Stewart, 31, of Dallas was filming a movie in 1983 on the dangers of low-level bridges when the truck he was standing on passed under a low-level bridge -- killing him (unverified).



Walter Hallas, a 26-year-old store clerk in Leeds, England, was so afraid of dentists that in 1979 he asked a fellow worker to try to cure his toothache by punching him in the jaw. The punch caused Hallas to fall down, hitting his head, and he died of a fractured skull (unverified).



George Schwartz, owner of a factory in Providence, R.I., narrowly escaped death when a 1983 blast flattened his factory except for one wall. After treatment for minor injuries, he returned to the scene to search for files. The remaining wall then collapsed on him, killing him (unverified).



Depressed since he could not find a job, 42-year-old Romolo Ribolla sat in his kitchen near Pisa, Italy, with a gun in his hand threatening to kill himself in 1981. His wife pleaded for him not to do it, and after about an hour he burst into tears and threw the gun to the floor. It went off and killed his wife (unverified).



In 1983, Mrs. Carson of Lake Kushaqua, N.Y., was laid out in her coffin, presumed dead of heart disease. As mourners watched, she suddenly sat up. Her daughter dropped dead of fright (unverified).



A man hit by a car in New York in 1977 got up uninjured, but lay back down in front of the car when a bystander told him to pretend he was hurt so he could collect insurance money. The car rolled forward and crushed him to death (unverified).



Two fishermen bled to death in separate incidents in June of 2001 along the Sepik river in north-western Papua New Guinea after having their penises bitten off by pacu fish. The fish are related to piranha and follow urine strams in the water, swimming to its source and then biting it off with razor sharp teeth. Some believe the killer may be a fish introduced from Brazil in 1994 as a protein substitute, but marine biologist Ian Middleton blamed another pacu species, introduced from Indonesia. "The killer fish have the most human-like teeth on the bottom jaw I have ever seen and quite possibly feed on insects," he said. The Brazilian pacu grow to 44 lb (20 kg) and have no teeth (Melbourne Herald Sun -July 6th, 2001).



Dwayne Carroll, 48, from Kentucky, had a fatal heart attack while clearing a place for the double gravestone intended to commemorate himself and his wife in the Floyd County cemetery. When he was late arriving home, his wife Carolyn, 49, sent her sister, Shelby Shrewsbury, to look for him. Mrs. Carroll had a fatal heart attack herself when her sister told her the news. The headstone had the names and birth dates of both husband and wife on it, but only one date of death will be required. A joint funeral service was planned (Ananova -July 11th, 2001).



Chalil Chathothu Ravindran, 45, retired to a room in his house in Chelora, a town in southern Indian state of Kerala, on 19 December. He told his mother he would come out of the room after 41 days of prayers with complete abstention from food and water, and that he would have divine powers. When he failed to come out after the specified period, neighbors tried to break into the room but were prevented by his relatives. After 50 days, police forced open the door and found Ravindran's decomposed body (Gold Coast Weekend Bulletin (Queensland) -February 12th-13th, 2000).



A 23-year-old Italian man died during an Easter re-enactment of Christ's passion, probably because the noose he was wearing in the role of Judas Iscariot was too tight, police said Sunday. Watched by his parents, Renato Di Paolo had taken part in a re-enactment of the Via Crucis, or way of the cross, in Camerata Nuova 75 km (47 miles) outside Rome Saturday night. He played Judas, who betrayed Christ, allowing him to be arrested and crucified on what Christians commemorate as Good Friday. Engulfed by remorse, Judas hanged himself from a tree. Di Paolo, who had played the part safely Friday night, jumped from a height of about 30 cm (one foot) and lay immobile on the ground with a noose around his neck while the play continued. A fellow actor raised the alarm after noticing that he looked too rigid. Di Paolo was rushed to hospital but could not be saved (Reuters -April 24th, 2000).



Kathleen Yeoman, a 46-year-old divorced mother of two, staged an elaborate fake burglary to win back the affection of Paul Cockerhill, her neighbor in Brixworth, Northamptonshire (England), on October 30th, 1998. She ransacked her house, tipping out drawers and throwing jewelry on her bed. She piled electrical goods in the front room, taped her mouth, put a plastic bag over her heard and tied her hands together. Leaving her front door open, she lay across the front doorstep of her former lover. As she waited for his return from a pub, she vomited and, unable to remove the tape from her mouth as her hands were shackled with self-tightening plastic ties, she choked to death. Police at first treated the death as suspicious, but they reviewed the case when they found that nothing had been taken and she still had 918 in her handbag (Times, Daily Telegraph -July 1st, 1999).



The naked body of Daniel 0. Dukes, a 27-year-old drifter from South Carolina, was found draped across the back of a killer whale in a tank behind Shamu Stadium at Seaworld Orlando on the morning of 6 July. He had apparently hidden in the Florida theme park after closing time and drowned in the cold, salty water of the 26 ft (8 mtrs) tank. The 14-year-old whale, named Tillikum after the Chinook Indian word for friend, and at 11,000 lbs (4,990 kg) the largest in captivity, may have played with Dukes' 180 lb (82 kg) body as if it were a toy. The post mortem showed one bite - in Dukes' groin - and that occurred after death when Tillikum ripped of his green shorts. The shorts were found at the bottom of the rank. Killer whales, also called Orcas, are not naturally aggressive to humans (Reuters - 6 July; AP, Knight Rider -July 8th, 1999).



A dwarf nicknamed Od has died in a circus accident in northern Thailand. According to the Pattaya Mail, he "bounced sideways from a trampoline and was swallowed by a yawning hippopotamus which was waiting to appear in the next act. Vets on the scene said Hilda the Hippo had a gag reflex that automatically caused her to swallow." The vet said it was the first time the hefty vegetarian had ever eaten a circus performer. "Unfortunately, the 1,000-plus spectators continued to applaud widely until common-sense dictated that there had been a tragic mistake". (Melbourne Herald Sun - July 16th, 1999)



On August 25th, 1998, Franc Filipic, 47, drowned in an eastern Slovenian lake when he was pulled in by his catch. Determined to land the sheat fish, a kind of catfish, he walked into the lake after hooking it and refused to let go when it pulled him under. According to a friend, his last words were: "Now I've got him!". Police and divers found Filipic's body after a two-day search. The fish was not found. The friend said it was six feet (1.8 m) long and weighed about 110 lb (50 kg). (Associated Press -August 26th, 1998).




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