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12 Notable People Who Died By Drowning

Blogball . . . Comments

Inspired by some other lists on The List Universe involving deaths of famous people I thought it might be interesting to write a list of well known people that lost their lives by drowning. I tried to make the list as entertaining as possible with pictures, clips and interesting facts about the drowning. It’s amazing how much one learns when you write a list!

Just a reminder to all the listversers: With summer right around the corner please be careful in the water.


Carol Wayne

Profession: Actress
Date of Birth: 09/06/1942
Date of Drowning: 01/13/1985
Age at Death: 42

Anyone who is a Johnny Carson fan is familiar with Carol Wayne. She, of course, played the funny and sexy matinee lady in the tea time movie skits. She was also in many TV shows throughout her career.

This is one item where the more I learned about the circumstances surrounding her drowning; the more suspicious it seemed. Carol Wayne and her companion, Edward Durston, were vacationing in Mexico and apparently she had an argument with him. It was reported that she left to take a walk on the beach. Her body was found three days later by a local fisherman. After the discovery of Wayne’s body, authorities discovered that Durston had checked out of the resort the day the couple argued, leaving Wayne’s luggage at the airport. An autopsy performed in Mexico later revealed no signs of drugs or alcohol in Wayne’s body.

But wait, there’s more… Edward Durston was also the friend and only person with Diane Linkletter (daughter of Art Linkletter) when she jumped to her death on 10-4-1969 from the kitchen window of her high rise apartment.

Maybe this is one of those series of unfortunate events but it just sounds kind of fishy to me.


Joe Delaney

Profession: Football player, Kansas City Chiefs running back
Date of Birth: 10/03/1958
Date of Drowning: 06/29/1983
Age at Death: 24

Of all the drownings on this list this is certainly the most heroic. Delaney dived into a pond in Louisiana and tried to save three children who were screaming for help. The children were in a water hole left by recent construction work. Delaney did not know how to swim very well but dove in anyway. He managed to save one child while two of the other children and Delaney died by drowning. Delaney always had a history of helping others. Three thousand people attended his memorial service.


Robert Maxwell

Robertmaxwellpa 228X300

Profession: British media mogul
Date of Birth: 06/10/1923
Date of Drowning: 11/05/1991
Age at Death: 68

Maxwell is presumed to have fallen overboard from his luxury yacht while cruising off the Canary Islands. His body was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean. The official verdict was accidental drowning. It came to light in early 2006 that, before his death, Maxwell was being investigated for possible war crimes in Germany in 1945. This led to renewed speculation that his death was a suicide.

Maxwell’s death triggered a flood of revelations about his business dealings and activities. It was discovered that, without prior authorization, he had used hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds to finance his corporate debt and his lavish lifestyle. Thousands of Maxwell employees lost their pensions.


Joe Flynn

Profession: Actor
Date of Birth: 11/08/1924
Date of Drowning: 07/19/1974
Age at Death: 49

Anyone who watches “McHale’s Navy” will know who Joe Flynn is. He also appeared in a bunch of Disney films.

This is another drowning under odd circumstances. Shortly after completing voiceover work for the Disney animated feature, The Rescuers (1977) the 49-year-old Flynn was discovered by family members in the swimming pool of his Beverly Hills home. Apparently, he had gone into the pool with a cast on his broken leg. His body was found at the pool’s bottom, held down by the weight of the cast. Some celebrity friends including Merv Griffith expressed concern about the unusual circumstances surrounding Flynn’s death, though authorities found no evidence of foul play. Many believe Flynn suffered a heart attack while swimming.


Jeff Buckley

Profession: Singer-Songwriter and Guitarist, Son of singer/songwriter Tim Buckley
Date of Birth: 11/17/1966
Date of Drowning: 5/29/1997
Age at Death: 30

On the day he was scheduled to reunite with his band members to resume work on an album, Buckley spontaneously decided to take a swim, fully-clothed, in the Mississippi river; he was caught in the wake of a passing boat and disappeared. Despite a determined rescue effort that night, Buckley remained missing. On June 4, his body was discovered. An album was released posthumously in 1998 under the title Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk; 2007 marked the 10th anniversary of Jeff Buckley’s death. His life and music were celebrated in May and June 2007. There were tributes in Australia, Belgium, Canada, United Kingdom, Iceland, Ireland, Macedonia, France and the USA.


Art Porter

Profession: Jazz Saxophonist, Son of legendary jazz musician Art Porter, Sr.,
Date of Birth: 08/03/1961
Date of Drowning: 11/23/1996
Age at Death: 35

Porter traveled to Thailand to appear at the Thailand International Jazz Festival. After the festival he went boating on the Kratha Taek reservoir. Tragically, the boat Porter was traveling on overturned, and Porter, along with several others, drowned. Porter was survived by his wife and two sons. In 1998, the album For Art’s Sake was posthumously released in his honor.
Porter’s charisma and great talent are evident in the clip above.


Jessica Savitch

Profession: News correspondent and anchorwoman
Date of Birth: 02/01/1947
Date of Drowning:10/23/1983
Age at Death: 36

For the Listversers that are not from the States or are too young to remember, Jessica Savitch was a very skilled reporter and anchorwoman with a great future ahead of her. I remember hearing about her tragic death. What made it worse is the way she died.

Savitch had dinner with Martin Fischbein, vice-president of the New York Post, in New Hope, Pennsylvania. After the meal, they began to drive home (around 7:15 PM). Fischbein was behind the wheel and Savitch was in the back seat with her dog, Chewy. Apparently Fischbein missed posted warning signs in a heavy rainfall, and he drove out of the wrong exit from the restaurant and up the towpath of the Pennsylvania Canal on the side of the Delaware River. The car veered over the edge into the shallow water of the canal. The car landed upside down, and sank into deep mud that sealed the doors shut. Savitch and Fischbein were trapped inside as water poured in. When the car was discovered Fischbein’s body was still strapped behind the wheel, with Savitch and her dog in the rear. After the subsequent autopsies, the coroner ruled that both had died from asphyxiation (by drowning). He noted that Fischbein was apparently knocked unconscious in the wreck but Savitch had struggled to escape. There was no finding that drugs or alcohol had played any part in the crash.


Josef Mengele

Josef Mengele 01

Profession: Nazi Camp Doctor at Auschwitz
Date of Birth: 3/16/1911
Date of Drowning 02/07/1979
Age at Death: 67

If there were a list of people you would most like to drown, Mengele would be on it. He is on this list because he really did but most would say not soon enough. While swimming in the sea, Mengela accidentally drowned possibly from a stroke in Bertioga, Brazil, where he was in hiding and going by the name of “Wolfgang Gerhard.”


John Jacob Astor IV


Profession: Businessman, Inventor, Writer
Date of Birth: 7/13/1864
Date of Drowning: 4/15/1912
Age at Death: 49

This is obviously the most famous of circumstances on this list surrounding a notable person drowning. John Jacob Astor IV was the wealthiest passenger on board the Titanic and came from one of the richest families in the United States.

After the accident Astor left his suite to investigate, he quickly returned and reported to his wife who was pregnant at the time that the ship had struck ice. He reassured her that the damage did not appear serious. Even as the boats were loaded Astor appeared unbothered; he ridiculed the idea of trading the solid decks of the Titanic for a small lifeboat. He changed his mind by 1:45AM when Second Officer Charles Lightoller arrived on A deck to finish loading Lifeboat 4. Astor helped his wife to climb onto the lifeboat and then asked if he might join her, as she was in ‘a delicate condition’. Lightoller told him that no men could enter until all the women & children had been loaded.

Astor’s body was recovered on Monday April 22 by the cable ship McKay-Bennett. Reports say his body was covered in soot and blood, thus it is assumed he was struck by the first funnel when it collapsed as the Titanic made its final plunge.

Below is the official list of items found on body number 124

CLOTHING – Blue serge suit; blue handkerchief with “A.V.”; belt with gold buckle; brown boots with red rubber soles; brown flannel shirt; “J.J.A.” on back of collar.
EFFECTS – Gold watch; cuff links, gold with diamond; diamond ring with three stones; £225 in English notes; $2440 in notes; £5 in gold; 7s. in silver; 5 ten franc pieces; gold pencil; pocketbook.


Brian Jones

Profession: Musician one-time Rolling Stone
Date of Birth: 2/28/1942
Date of Drowning: 7/3/1969
Age at Death: 27

This is another drowning under suspicious circumstances. At around midnight, Jones was discovered motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool at his home in Hartfield, Sussex, England. His girlfriend, Anna Wohlin, said he was alive when they took him out of the pool, insisting he still had a pulse. However, when the doctors arrived, it was too late and he was pronounced dead. The coroner’s report noted his liver and heart were heavily enlarged by drug and alcohol abuse. Some felt it was suicide, blaming Jagger and Richards for his mental state. His girlfriend Wohlin claimed in 1999 that Jones had been murdered by a builder who had been renovating the house the couple shared. The builder, Frank Thorogood, allegedly confessed to the murder on his deathbed to the Rolling Stones’ driver, Tom Keylock; however, there were no other witnesses.


Dennis Wilson

Profession: Musician, Drummer for the Beach Boys
Date of Birth: 12/04/1944
Date of Drowning: 12/28/1983
Age at Death: 39

Wilson was on a friend’s yacht and after several drinks announced he was going for a swim. His friends thought he was nuts, because the water was so cold, he dove in, and decided to swim near the spot where his old yacht used to be docked. He emerged from the water holding a picture of his ex wife that he threw from his yacht years before. Wilson dove in again for more treasures but this time he didn’t resurface. Wilson was known for practical jokes so his friends thought he was playing around. They even checked the local bars to see if Wilson was hiding there. It took four divers working in the dark with a pole, probing the ocean floor, 45 minutes to find Wilson’s body in 13 feet of water.


Natalie Wood

Profession: Actress
Date of Birth: 07/20/1938
Date of Drowning: 11/29/1981
Age at Death: 43

If you ask people if they can name a well known person who drowned, Natalie Wood’s name would probably come up first 9 out of 10 times.

She would also be at the top or near the top of any most beautiful women in Hollywood list. I had a boyhood crush on her growing up and I remember how sad I felt when I first heard of her death. It’s hard to believe she has been gone for over 26 years. The circumstances concerning her drowning are still puzzling to this day.

After Thanksgiving, she and her husband Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken, whom she was working with on a film, went on to Catalina Island for the weekend. Apparently Natalie Wood tried to either leave the yacht or secure a dinghy from banging against the hull when she accidentally slipped and fell overboard. Later it was discovered a witness nearby heard calls for help at around midnight. She said the cries lasted for about 15 minutes and were answered by someone else who said, “Take it easy. We’ll be over to get you. “It was laid back,” the witness recalled. “There was no urgency or immediacy.” An investigation by Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi resulted in an official verdict of accidental drowning. Noguchi concluded Wood had drunk several glasses of wine and was intoxicated when she died. There were marks and bruises on her body that could have been received as a result of her fall.

Contributor: Blogball

  • chris_b

    Does drowning on your own vomit count?

    • PapiPobre

      Such a romantic.

  • Out of all this list the only people I've heard of are Jeff Buckley & Josef Mengele…

    Interesting list, though. I've heard drowning is one of the 'best' ways to die (if there can ever be a best way), but it's not something that I'd ever want to happen to me.

    • barry

      wherever you read or heard that saying, it is in complete sarcasm because death by drowning is one of the most painful ways to die mainly because of several phases before actually passing. embalmers also hated “clients” who die this way the most because the internal organs decompose first before the superficial skin.

  • trojan_man

    Tom Mees, ESPN sports anchor. He was supposedly saving his 4-year old daughter and he couldn't swim.

    • lauren

      actually he wasnt. it was an accident he fell in and didnt know how to swim. i would know, i am his daughter

  • astraya

    Percy Byssche Shelley, WS Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan), Harold Holt (Prime Minister of Australia).
    I knew someone who had goldfish named Percy and Harold, for that reason.

  • Josef Mengele, can’t say I was sad to learn he drowned…

  • JLo

    I second the Shelley comment.

    Is this an accidental drowning list?

  • deepthinker

    I like this list. It is different and interesting. One of my worse fears, drowning.

  • Blaze Fielding

    Stuart Lubbock – he’s not really that famous, but his death did kick up quite a stir.

  • Natalie sure was classy :)

  • gman62

    Don’t forget Virginia Woolf. She earns originality points.

  • Callie

    dangor, you’ve never heard of natalie wood? really?

    I thought drowning was supposed to be one of the worst ways to go cause in most cases you’re complete aware it’s happening and the fear is crippling. Shiver. I’m not a great swimmer and I’m always a little scared when I’m on a boat.

  • Kristin

    Great list!!

  • 116880

    this isn’t oe of the best lists, but still interesting…

  • Bob

    Wow, a whole three of these were notable. Glad to see Natalie Wood was number one.

    Definitely agree about Shelley.

  • phil

    What was that Chappaquiddick business involving a Kennedy? or was that drownee not notable?

  • JD

    Wasn’t there some controversy about Natalie Wood’s death because she was afraid of the water?

  • UncaDave

    Hart Crane, Randy California, Albert Ayler: two notable, one quotable.

  • Amanda

    Great list.
    I don’t want to be one of those people who I call a grammer nazi, but on number 11, it should be Delaney dove in, not Delaney dived in. sorry? :o)

    • Ann

      Depends. Dove in Britain is a bird not something you do when entering the water. The term here would be Delaney dived in.

  • Jim

    Unca Dave — Good call on Randy California, the lead singer of the group Spirit. Like Joe Delaney, he died while attempting to rescue his son from drowning in the surf in Hawaii back in 1997. He rescued his son, but somehow got caught up in the surf himself and drowned. A very talented guy, and a very sad, but heroic ending.

  • DMH

    Uhmm….hello?? Jack Dawson of Titanic fame! “Jack…come back Jack…come back!” Just kidding, great list. What a horrible way to die..shivers..

  • DMH: to be picky, he didn’t drown, he froze :P

  • mitchsn

    King Ludwig impoverished his small nation by building 3 castles before he mysteriously drowned in 2 feet of water.

  • Bondles

    Harold Holt. With all the security that surrounds most heads of state, I think it’s hilarious that our sitting Prime Minister can go for a swim at the beach and just disappear without a trace.

    Of course, somewhere out there there’s a Japanese submarine commander who knows he didn’t really drown.

  • Guy

    Virginia Woolf should definitely be on this list. Is there a prejudice against literary figures?

  • JayArr

    What about Billy Joe Mccallister?!?

    Oh, and if you’re a musician, I suppose drowning in your own vomit counts… but only for musicians!

  • JayArr

    dangorironhide(21) – to be more picky, he went unconscious due to exhaustion and hypothermia, whick allowed him to ultimately drown…

  • Barabas
  • BishopWhiteT

    Other notables most everyone has heard of: Percy Shelley, Virginia Woolfe, Spalding Gray.

    Should have included: Grigori Rasputin who was drowned only after he was poisoned, shot multiple times, and clubbed (after he had recovered from being stabbed)

  • A few more … Rasputin, Mary Jo Kopechne, Spalding Gray.

    And let’s not forget Adam and Barbara Maitland. If you don’t know who they are, just say the following three lines …


  • Sherri

    With number 12,was that Durston guy ever investigated? Seems odd he just happened to be there when 2 different people died.

  • Guy

    Percy Shelley, that’s a good one.

  • Mom424

    Excellent job Blogball! Interesting and timely.

  • Hobbit

    No Grigori Rasputin?

  • I spoke on the phone with Jessica Savage shortly before she drowned in the canal. She had called my Dad about a future interview and was very nice. My Dad turned down the offer of the interview and about a week later we saw on the news she had died. Very bright woman from what I gathered.

  • Re: Natalie Wood.
    It is, and was at the time of her death, well known that she was terrified of open water. The very idea that she would have gotten into the dingy voluntarily is absurd.
    No one who knew her believed it then. I doubt that anyone has has had a change of mind at this late date.
    I’m not pointing any fingers. I wasn’t there. As far as I know her marriage was as happy as a marriage could be, and while Mr. Walken can play the ultimate spooky bad-guy he is, in real life, a very nice guy, so the whole thing is even more mysterious than the List makes it to be.

  • TicoTuanis

    What about Alfonsina Storni?

  • stevenh

    Excellent list, Thank you.

    Sure there are many famous people that are not included, but these are great.

    The clip of Joe Flynn is wonderful.

    ps: I think that 7. dangorironhide has to (1) get out more or (2) read more lists ;)

  • kiwiboi

    Blogball – interesting list. Nice job! :)

  • Jillo

    I don’t know any of these ppl =p

  • kiwiboi

    I don’t want to be one of those people who I call a grammer nazi, but on number 11, it should be Delaney dove in, not Delaney dived in.

    Amanda – well, you wouldn’t make a very good nazi…because there is absolutely nothing wrong with using “dived”; in fact, many (most, even) grammatical guides express a strong preference for the use of “dived”.

    And, while we are on the subject…your spelling “grammer” with an ‘e’ will probably cost you points with the spelling nazis also ;)

  • Bob

    Yeah, “dove” is only a type of bird. ;-)

    “Dove” seems to be a pretty popular usage, though. Figure it’ll probably become standard usage before too long.

  • kindmaryjane

    Amanda –

    Actually, dived is the traditional past tense form of dive and is the preferred form, especially in writing;) (I come from a loooooong line of GrammarNazis – good times.)

  • Bibek

    To be honest i havent even heard of any of these people :(

  • Cedestra

    32. No Grigori Rasputin?
    Well, actually he didn’t die from the drowning. He didn’t die from many things he was supposed to die from.
    Agreed about Mengele; that man was atrocious. I first learned of him in some book about his experiments on identical twins. Shameful coward; he lived under a pseudonym in South America, mostly Uraguay and Brazil, until he drowned. Drowning was probably a nice way for him to go; many would believe he deserved torture.

  • otay

    When i hear the name “Natalie Wood”, first thing that comes to mind is the sick joke that circulated after her drowning……”What kind of wood doesn’t float?”

  • J_Y

    @ #18:

    usage Dive, which was originally a weak verb, developed a past tense dove, probably by analogy with verbs like drive, drove. Dove exists in some British dialects and has become the standard past tense especially in speech in some parts of Canada. In the United States dived and dove are both widespread in speech as past tense and past participle, with dove less common than dived in the south Midland area, and dived less common than dove in the Northern and north Midland areas. In writing, the past tense dived is usual in British English and somewhat more common in American English. Dove seems relatively rare as a past participle in writing.

  • J_Y: Thanks for posting that :) Dived is the weak form, and dove is the strong form. Both are equally valid English.

  • MPW

    very intersesting and tragic list
    good show!

    Question did john F. Kennedy Jr. die from the crash or drowning? if it was from drowning he should have been on the list.

    i know Mengele was an evil person but saying he couldn’t have died soon enough seems evil as well

  • JayArr

    YEEHAW! We can jus’say: “Big ‘D’ done did dive right on in thar’n drowneded real bad!”

    That’d solve all the kontravsee, yeah?

  • JayArr

    Terribly sorry… I fear I got a little carried away there. ;-)

  • SQG

    Check your math on number 6
    How old was she?

  • MPW

    my brother once sleepwalked or sleptwalked into a pool and nearly drowned luckily my other bros and i were there at the time, it was crazy

  • MPW

    SQG: the math is right. simply subtract her year of birth from her year of death. 1983 minus 1947 the answer is 36

  • DK

    You saw my post on the forums huh? The one where I described just exactly why the prospect of drowning was so terribly frightening, and you wrote this list just to torture me didn’t you?!
    Very interesting list, a lot of these I hadn’t heard about. Love reading the “suspicious circumstances” ones too.
    Based on the comments, looks like there may be enough other “Notables” to do “Another # Notable People Who Died By Drowning” sometime:)

  • Nelia

    Now I try not to get overly worked up over lists… but NO Virginia Wolf? Seriously? She walked into the water with rocks in her pockets for goodness sake! She was one of the most influential female writers ever! She shouldn’t be an honorable mention, she should be in the top three.
    To second some other commenters, Natalie Wood was afraid of dark water, which makes her death quite strange.
    “If there were a list of people you would most like to drown, Mengele would be on it.” – this made me laugh. Someone should do this list. “Top Ten People Everyone Wishes Would Drown”

  • ChaoticPython

    I would rather die by drowning than die by burning…(burning, rather than smoke inhalation)

  • ChaoticPython: I totally agree with you! I could think of nothing worse than death by fire.

    Nelia: It would have to be a top 100 if I let people on the site contribute entries :)

  • Guy (#24): there is certainly not a prejudice on the site against literary figures – we have many literary lists. I suspect it was a mere oversight.

  • kiwiboi

    Now I try not to get overly worked up over lists… but NO Virginia Wolf?

    Nelia – seems Listverse is afraid of Virginia Woolf ;)

    (sorry..pathetic joke)

  • Thanks for the comments everybody.
    DK I do remember that comment. It was that and the ever so popular suicide list that was inspirational.
    #8 trojan_man,good call if it was 13 notables Tom Mees would be there. I do remember him on ESPN.
    It turns out that he might not have been trying to save his daughter as first thought.
    As for Virginia Wolf, yes she should probably be in here. I knew the LVers would find people I missed and you didn’t disappoint.

  • kiwiboi: hahah – I like it :)

  • trojan_man

    kiwiboi: Jokes like that will do nothing but keep your people down…under.

  • Noodle The Cat

    Awesome list Blogball. Very informative and interesting.

  • SlickWilly

    I’ve heard drowning is not nearly as painful way to die as we may think. The only real pain is when the water first enters the lungs; supposedly it feels like a burning, tearing sensation. After that, the pain fades and you drift away into unconcious, euphoric oblivion. Death by burning is among the most horrific and painful ways to die, I’ve heard too. Nerves react to heat by putting off more pain signals, meaning the more you burn, the more it hurts, up until the point where your nerves burn completely away. But you’d be dead long before that point. Ghastly.

  • Randall

    poor things

  • Ghidoran

    Pretty random list. The last one reminds me of Natalee Holloway.

  • splash65

    I liked this list very much.

    And just too point out the kind of day I had today… my brain is so fried that when I saw John Jacob Astor on the list, my first thought was “Wait! He didn’t drown! He was died on the Ti… oh… never mind”.

    Yeah. One of THOSE kinds of days.

  • Mani

    RIP Jeff Buckley. 11 years to the day.

  • elzii

    drowning is a horrible way to go, i had an experience a while back tryin 2 save a girl from drowning…however she paniced and decided to climb on to the top of my head and we both went under!!
    lukily we got pulled out! :D just in time!
    but just remembering the pain in my chest, feels as if your lungs are going to burst! and the fear is terrible!!

    NOT A NICE WAY 2 GO :)

    and ive never heard of any of these people! probably cuz alot of them are american…or maybe im too young haha! who knows :)

    great list! keep them coming!

  • obelisk

    Do the “Harry” – didn’t make this list, maybe next one? (Harold Holt) :o

  • bobbi

    great list! very interesting and different. my favorite kind!

  • Author: MPW
    very intersesting and tragic list
    good show!
    Question did john F. Kennedy Jr. die from the crash or drowning? if it was from drowning he should have been on the list.
    John F. Kennedy died from a gunshot wound to the head.

  • MPW

    segue: i said JFK JR.


    im not a retard i know JFK was shot in the head

  • MPW. So you did. I totally misread your post. I apologize.
    I can be a complete idiot at times, like when I scan, rather than read, a post.
    I’m truly sorry I made you feel bad.

  • MPW

    honestly segue were you being serious?

  • MPW

    ignore my last post your last post had not appeared on the screen yet.

    it did not make me feel bad it just made you look dumb. no offense

  • Late O’Day

    Joe Flynn was only *49* ????

  • drowning would be the worst way to die

  • astraya

    DMH (20) and dangorironhide (21): You gave away the ending! Awwwwwww! Next you’ll be giving away the ending of “The Passion of the Christ”!
    Bondles (23): Can you imagine John Howard going swimming by himself, or the national rejoicing (among many) if he’d drowned?
    BTW I thought it was a Chinese submarine that had taken Holt.

  • tookyb

    I agree with a couple of other people in that Harold Holt should have been included on this list. It is not often that the leader of a nation is drowned whilst in office. It meant that Australia was officially without a Prime Minister for 24 hours while they were searching for Harold Holt. Of course, if you live on the grassy knoll, you would argue that Holt didn’t actually drown, he was merely picked up by a Chinese submarine.

    I think it’s also worth noting that in keeping with the Australian sense of humour, we chose to make his memorial a swimming pool.

  • trojan_man: Haha down under. Funny..
    Man I thought I had a better sense of humor.
    Ah well what can you do?

  • Ok, no I’m convinced, I’d rather drown than burn. Thanks slick ;)

  • now*

  • Anderi


    This should’ve been called “Notable People Who Died By Drowning in 1983″…

    Coincidence?… You be the judge. ;)

  • indy5

    Rams football team ower Carroll Rosenbloom. Suspicious circumstances too. Subject of the premiere episode of Frontline.

  • davo

    “what about [insert name here]”
    yeah, guys he can’t include everyone in the list. write your own ffs.

  • MPW, I can be dumb at times.
    I have a very serious, extremely painful genetic disease. Because the pain is so severe, I am on very, very high doses of opiates, which I take 3 times a day. I also have other pills for “breakthrough” pain. Then there are the pills which allow me to sleep despite the pain (which is always present despite the opiates).
    So yeah, I can be dumb. I have a 150 I.Q., but it’s dulled by the drugs. I’ve been on these things for more than 10 years, and why anyone would take them for FUN is beyond my understanding. I can’t drive a car. I can’t ride my bicycle. My short term memory is iffy at best. I’m depressed.
    And I can make really, really dumb mistakes.
    I should just observe, not comment.
    Better all around.

  • DiscHuker

    this makes me think of a discussion me and some friends had the other day…
    would you rather die by drowning or by fire?

  • MPW

    segue,are you serious or are you fuckin’ with me.

    what is the name of your extremely painful genetic disease?

    i sometimes make dumb mistakes but i dont have a disease

    always comment if you have something to say or add

    a 150 I.Q. that is impressive, nearly a genius

  • DK

    I have no doubt that dying by fire would be the more painful, however drowning is scarier to me. There’s just an awareness & hopelessness about it. To quote what I said in the forums under the topic “Your Biggest Fears”:
    “the idea of being stuck underwater unable to surface, holding your breath till it burns and finally trying to breath to only fill your lungs with water, then trying to cough while only sucking more water in….yeah, terrifies me.”

  • Vera Lynn

    Tookyb: Is his memorial really a swimming pool?!?! I laughed and am still. The movie Deep Water really freaked me out. It’s about 2 people who are left behind after SCUBA diving. I had to go out and shake that one off. It was portrayed to be filmed in the middle of the ocean but it felt so claustophobic. wreeeeew

  • Vera Lynn

    Hi MPV. Congrats on Highest Poster status. I look forward to your comments every day.

  • roddiohead

    When Delaney was born, the midwife supposedly said, “This boy was born by the water and he’ll die by the water.”

  • Hey I just filled the pool for the summer….

    Anyone wanna go for a swim?

  • tookyb

    Vera Lynn: Yes there really is a Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Pool. Have a read of Bill Bryson’s book about Australia, it is a very entertaining read and he talks about Harold Holt quite a lot.

    The movie Deep Water was actually based on an American couple who went missing a few years ago whilst diving on the Great Barrier Reef. It actually seems likely that it was a murder-suicide, based on entries in the husbands diary saying he wanted to end it all. Either that or they just didn’t follow instructions from the dive instructors, as happened in the Whitsundays recently where the couple swam a couple of kilometres further than they were meant to and spent 24 hours in the water before they were rescued.

  • MPW

    davo that is what comments are for right?

    to contibute ideas or examples

  • Isista

    I like the list :) Very interesting topic, and I enjoyed reading it and learning about these people (I had only ever heard of Natalie Wood).

    But I do have to disagree with some of the previous posters; I know nothing of her death, but I don’t think that Virginia Woolfe was as amazing of a writer as they’re giving her credit for. But that’s just me.

    Still, yet another great list.

  • MPW

    hi vera lynn thank you and thank you

    you’re very sweet:)

  • MPW

    Vera Lynn, i enjoy reading your comments as well.

    you always seem to post at around the 90 mark so i know where to find your comments

    glad i made a listverse friend

  • ian

    the jeff buckley one always makes me tear up
    all of these are so very sad but in my opinion his is the most tragic, just imagining how happy he was moments before it happened just gets to me. he wouldve gone on to do incredible things.

  • obelisk

    what about Top Ten deaths by shark attack?

  • MPW

    getting back to JFK Jr. did he die from drowning or from the impact of the crash? does anybody know?

  • MPW

    obelisk, can you think of ten famous shark attack deaths?

    if so you should definitely make and submit that as a list.

    that would be awesome

  • Author: MPW
    segue,are you serious or are you fuckin’ with me.

    what is the name of your extremely painful genetic disease?
    It’s Schwannomatosis. A rare form, incidence is approx. 1 in 1,700,000, in the Neurofibromatosis family, only recently discovered as a disease of its own. My form attacked my spinal cord. I have tumors encasing every nerve root, nerve sheathe, and peripheral nerve bundle on my spinal cord. The tumors compress the nerves, and some of the tumors have grown large enough to have compressed parts of my spinal cord.
    I would have no reason to fabricate any of this. If I was going to “fuck” with you, I’d absolutely keep it simpler. Simpler is easier to remember.

  • MPW

    segue, i am sorry but i just wasn’t if you were truthful and i guess you are.

    is the disease treatable besides opiates

    if you want i will pray for you and i am serious

    is it life threatning or crippling?

    and how old are you/are you a man or woman

    im just curious

  • KFarter

    Drowning victims don’t leave behind the prettiest, nicest smelling corpses. I feel sorry for anybody who had to stumble upon that bloated mess…

  • ChuChu353

    Didn’t Kirsty MacColl drown after being run down by a speedboat in Mexico while on holiday? If I recall correctly, her kids were in the path of the boat and she managed to get them out of the way, but got hit herself :-(

  • ChuChu353

    Didn’t Kirsty MacColl drown after being run down by a speedboat while on holiday in Mexico? If I recall correctly, her kids were in the boat’s path and she was getting them out of the way , but was hit herself :-(

  • Spart

    The Harold Holt Memorial swimming pool is in Melbourne, and yes its true. We do irony very very well.

    I was also going to mention Kirsty MacColl, one of my favourite female vocalists.

  • Nelia

    Kiwi – I’m a bit late on this… but I always appreciate puns :)

  • astraya

    The Harold Holt Memorial swimming pool was my grandparents’ local pool, and they sometimes took me there. Holt was the local member of parliament for that area.

    Mary Jo Kopechne wasn’t a notable person in her own right, as those on the list were. She became notable posthumously because of the driver that night. If someone less famous had been driving, her death would not have become anywhere near as well-known.

    Wikipedia has an article about drowning –

  • Samsung

    fascinating list but…

    I just thought I’d let you in on a little secret: the earth has more than one hemisphere and not “all the listversers” come from the northern one – including Jfrater. (in relation to the comment in the introduction)

    On a side note: Jfrater are you here (nz) yet?

  • Drogo

    Well, I’m creeped out for two reasons. One is the drowning subject. My girlfriend drowned, and when we were kids my cousin drowned. The second reason is something I want to keep to myself. It’s an o-kay list though.

  • The-Dude

    I drowned once, but i got better. I know bad one, morbid list but not the first on listverse.

  • The-Dude: Dont you mean you almost drowned?

  • otay

    KFarter – I work in a hospital, can certainly tell when they bring in “a floater” to the morgue….. no filtration method can stop that stench!!!

  • The-Dude

    No ‘WarningDontReadThis’ I drowned once, but i got better.

    Peasant 2: Well, she turned me into a newt.
    [Belvedere gives him a disbelieving look]
    Belvedere: A newt?
    Peasant 2: Well I got better

  • I knew I was going to take some heat (pun intended) when I reread that opening remark about summer right around the corner. My apologies to the LVers in the Southern Hemisphere. Samsung, I have a niece that lives in Sydney so there is no excuse. I also wanted to note that Harold Holt should have been on this list as well as Virginia Wolf. Maybe jfrater can add them as notable omissions.

  • The-Dude: Of course, did you drown whilst you were looking for a shrubbery?
    (I suck I know)

  • MPW, I’m a woman. My age is of little concern, but let’s just say old enough to have 3 adult children…”adult children”, one of life’s more idiotic phrases. Anyway, no, there are no treatments for my disease other than opiates. Had the tumors attacked less important nerves, say, nerves in my arm, they could be surgically removed. No Neurosurgeon is willing to take the chance of attempting to remove the tumors completely encasing the spinal nerves.
    Under some rare conditions it could cripple or kill me, but the odds are so great they are not worth dwelling upon, then again, the odds of me having the disease were great . So I take my plethora of meds and live my life.
    I have people who love me, I have my photography, my art, my writing, my home in the woods 5 minutes from the ocean. I do the best I can with what I have.
    Prayers never hurt anyone, and often help, so if you are a praying man, please, do pray for me.

    To the person who wondered about shark attacks. I can come up with about 8 to 10. Maybe more.

  • LooLoo

    One of the older Cowsill brothers (“Hair,” “The Rain, The park & Everything”) was drowned in Hurricane Katrina. His body was found floating in an obscure place months after the storm…

  • Serg

    No Frederick Barbarossa?

  • Vera Lynn

    Segue I am so sorry for your pain. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers. MGBWY.

  • segue

    Vera Lynn:
    Thank you. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate the kind thoughts and words.
    I never wanted this to become an issue, I really never intended it to become known. It all started because I made a boneheaded mistake and then, because I was at the “peak” of my current opiate, I made it worse…and then, which is unusual for me, I got angry, and just let it all spill out.
    BTW, what does MGBWY mean?

  • MPW

    segue i just wanted to know if the disease is common in certain genders or ages, thats all and i think that MGBWY stands for may god be with you.

    this may seem weird but it has no hidden meaning believe me.

    i would love to meet you because you seem so optimistic even though your life is so difficult
    you seem really nice

    and i dont know a lot of people as positive as you including myself

  • Sarah Jessica Perker

    Wot about the woman who sang fairy tale of new york she dies of drownin dint she? after gettin hit by a boat

  • Aggie

    you forgot Virginia Woolf. She committed suicide by putting stones in her pockets and forcing herself to drown in the river near her home. She did it to escape the voices that plagued her mind from childhood

  • On May 30th Author: MPW Commented:
    segue i just wanted to know if the disease is common in certain genders or ages, thats all and i think that MGBWY stands for may god be with you.

    MPW: it’s a genetic accident, it can be inherited if both parents have the gene for it, but most cases are genetic mutations, occurring at the moment of conception. Therefore, it strikes males and females in identical numbers, it also crosses all racial lines. Most cases are not discovered until the patient in somewhere around 40.

    One thing you find when life hands you a major illness, is that all the other things, the good things, take on a much larger role. All of those “silly idioms”, like Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, or Stop and Smell the Roses, actually take on life. Maybe it’s because I come from a family of artists, I am an artist myself. Maybe we artists see the world in a different way…I don’t know. I do know that I am grateful to God for my life; without my life, my children would not exist, my young granddaughter would not exist ( yes, I started having children young and had 3 in34 months, on purpose ).
    If I seem optimistic it’s because I am. I still love and am loved, I still see beauty and can create beauty, I regret nothing.

  • QDV

    otay (#45): At least you beat me to it, as I was going to post an obligatory “OK, let’s get this one out of the way.”

    Fans of the Detroit Tigers will remember that we lost Stormin’ Norman Cash to a drowning accident off of Beaver Island (Michigan) back in ’86.

  • Carrie

    I know I’m a little late on this but … I have been to Germany and the place where King Ludwig died and the story I heard was he was assassinated.

  • Spart

    Sarah Jessica Perker

    The singer of Fairytale of New York was Kirsty MacColl

  • Ro


    “Turjo Bhaiya”

  • ****
    Author: Spart
    Sarah Jessica Perker
    whut? guh?

  • OK. I went all the way back and finally found the post referred to.
    So, please ignore my above post.
    Thank you.

  • Critic12345

    This list is great. You are famous on this site blogball! You should make a list of the 10 most notable people who didn’t finish high school. That would be a great list. I’m suprised no one has thought of it yet.

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  • steph

    I’m still sad that Natalie Wood is gone. She was such a beauty and such a talented actress.

  • The Dude

    alright, however left the mad monk off this list needs to do some more research.

  • The Dude


  • Tim

    Surely Rasputin should be on here somewhere

  • 139. Tim: Surely Rasputin should be on here somewhere
    I’m not even going to bother counting the number of posters who said “What, no Grigori Rasputin?”
    Damn, no one even pretends to read the posts anymore.

  • comment peep

    these are things I like to look at, but I want to try to learn more about Natalie

  • the someone

    it is sooo mysterious of these things! But its very interesting

  • BeatleMorgan

    when I was scrolling down I was like “where the heck is natalie wood?!” yessssss. #1. well, that was really sad actually. =/

  • Hortensia

    We can prevent drowning by taking some precautions:
    Don’t go to the ocean alone
    Don’t swim where boats cross
    Don’t travel in a boat with passage over
    Don’t swim fully-clothed
    Wear lifejacket in water-sports
    Don’t swim if you have attacks
    Learn CPR
    Learn rescue
    Follow the swimming pool rules
    Don’t leave your children alone in water
    Cover the hot tub and swimming pool when there aren’t in use.
    Fence the pool

  • Holinda

    After reading the 12 deaths by drowning, I knew that some singers, actresses, and actors drowned because they abused of drugs and alcohol.

  • Actually Boy

    Early on, Amanda “corrected” the use of the phrase “dived in”, saying it should be “dove”.

    She’s incorrect. “Dived” is the correct past tense of “dive”.

    Other than that, nice list.

  • Boo

    What about Houdini?

  • hantamouth

    Virginia Wolf?

  • drpoundsign

    Houdini did NOT drown. He was punched (volunteered to be) in the stomach but did not tense his stomach muscles. He died of peritonitis and/or hollow viccous rupture which was fairly lethal in those days.

    I fell for Natalie when I was home with strep throat in 74 watching “This Property is Condemned” with her and Redford. I still wish it was me instead of her.

  • Rae

    what about Grigori Rasputin?

  • JrCashLovecats

    Is that true about Dennis Wilson finding a picture of his ex-wife? Wow, that sounds like something you couldn’t make up… but you could say that about a lot of drowning victims I guess…
    He made some great songs. Riversong, Baby Blue…

  • Wakennagarie

    You should add jazz guitarist Zachary Breaux, another promising musician who drowned trying to save a women, who, btw, also drowned. Interestingly enough, he successfully saved a man from drowning a few years earlier.

  • Kevin

    I have to agree with those noting the absence of literary figures Shelley, Woolf, and Hart Crane

  • rebi

    No Jimi Hendrix? he technically drowned in his own vomit

    PS: I thought rasputin died of hypothermia even though he was thrown into water I heard it somewhere

  • Will Trame

    If you count drowning in one’s own vomit, Jimi Hendrix does indeed count, as do John Bonham and Bon Scott.

    Rasputin reportedly died from drowning after being poisoned, shot, stabbed, molested and castrated. Prince Yussopov had a hell of a time trying to kill the mad monk.

    Donald Crowhurst reputedly drowned in 1969 after allegedly jumping off his boat after blowing an around-the-world boat race. Unless, of course, he just vanished into thin air.

    Then there’s Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers who allegedly drowned after escaping from Alcatraz. But then again, no trace of the bodies were ever found.

  • blip

    Natalie Wood was killed by Robert Wagner and his ego. He got away with murder.

  • josh

    what about Harold Holt an Australian Prime Minister that allegedly drowned after disappearing while out for a swim. His body has never been found.

  • asher

    drowning is my way to go. I just looking for nice place to die. not so easy.

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  • toni

    i guess robert wagner finally got even with natalie for leaving him and breaking his heart a few years bacl hee hee

  • Juancho

    This comment is serious: In the USA, a disproportionate number of African-Americans drown because a higher percentage of them don’t know how to swim. I’m not sure why; it could be because a higher percentage of them are poor and can’t afford swimming lessons, or it could be because learning to swim at the Y at age 5 isn’t a rite of passage for some black people the way it is for many whites. This, in turn, might be because before the ’60s in the South black people couldn’t use the local swimming pools, so they couldn’t take lessons and learn to swim. It didn’t become a family tradition.

    Joe Delaney is an example: he was from the South and he couldn’t swim (if I correctly remember the news reports from the time, he didn’t know how at all). I’m originally from Kansas City and I remember when he drowned. The whole city was stunned, since he was a popular young player who was blossoming, and he was known to be a nice guy.

    Anyway, whether you’re African-American or not, if you don’t know how to swim, learn. You should be able to get cheap lessons at your local YMCA or municipal pool. Community colleges often offer swimming lessons for adults. And make sure your kids learn, too. It might save somebody’s life one day. Maybe yours.

  • Alan C.

    I think the reason some people weren’t included was *because* everyone knows who they were and how it happened. You’re not telling anyone anything new by adding Virginia Woolf.

  • peter8172

    Phil, Her name was Mary Jo Koppechne and its was after a party at Hyannisport, Mass. where the Kennedy’s had one of their stately mansions. Ted Kennedy was drunk. They crossed a wooden bridge in the car in which they were driving in and Kennedy drove through the wooden guard rail. He made it, She didn’t.

  • EpicJay

    Grigori Rasputin should have made the list

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  • Alex

    hmm i seem to remember seeing this exact post here: !

  • isurrvived

    i had a near death experience drowning (if you know what i mean) i was about 7 (i think) it was a public swimming pool called the kingfisher

  • The Doctor

    Titanic victims died of hypothermia, not drowning. Astor had a life jacket on, and was killed not by drowning, but, as you yourself mention, being struck by a funnel.

  • WilfredfromAus

    Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, drowned while swimming near Portsea in Victoria, Deecmber 1967. Pretty sure he’s the only democratically elected leader of a country to die by drowning.

  • Mike C

    Many times pro athletes are cast as heros which is complete crap.BUT Joe Delaney …Thats a real hero..

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