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10 Creepily Ironic Historical Deaths

by Pauli Poisuo
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Death is always a tragedy. However, sometimes it takes forms that defy all reason and rhyme. Some poor people find themselves leaving the mortal coil in a manner so insanely ironic and absurd, even Hollywood screenwriters would call it unbelievable.

These are their stories.

10 John Horrocks

As a pioneer and explorer of 19th-century Australia, John Horrocks always ran a fair risk of getting killed by a wild animal. Ultimately, that was indeed the hand fate dealt him. However, he wasn’t bitten by a spider, stung by a medusa, eaten by a shark or even kicked by a kangaroo. In fact, he didn’t get killed by any of the thousands of lethal creatures Australia has to offer.

He was shot to death . . . by a camel.

Horrocks was a camel enthusiast and was keen to introduce the animals to Australia, as he felt they would do well there. This mission came to an an abrupt end, as one day his foul-tempered expedition camel managed to shift its weight so that pack it was carrying caught Horrocks’ weapon, causing it to go off. Sadly, Horrocks was loading the gun at the moment, so the shot took off a few of his fingers before moving on to his face.

John Horrocks died of his injuries, but not before giving orders for the camel to be shot as well. This means that the first and only camel/human gunfight in history technically ended in a draw.

9 Jimi Heseiden


Segways are the (in)famous self-balancing electric scooters that are steered by tilting your weight. Although they may appear an affront to nature, the company that makes them insists they’re an extremely easy to use and the “green future” of commuting.

However, the ease of their use and their validity as a vehicle took a bump in 2010, when Jimi Heseiden, the owner of the company, was testing a new Segway model on his grounds. He promptly lost control of the vehicle in the most ridiculous manner possible: Somehow, he managed to drive straight off a cliff and into the river below.

He was pronounced dead on the scene.

8 David Grundman


David Grundman had two things: A shotgun and a massive need to shoot at things. So one day in 1982, David drove into the desert with his friend, in order to go nuts with his weapon. He opened fire at some small saguaro cacti (large, vaguely man shaped cactus plants), obliterating them with his shotgun shells. However, destroying small saguaros was way too easy: He needed a bigger, more powerful target.

So Grundman focused his attention on a huge, 26-foot (7.92 meter) saguaro they found nearby. He opened fire at it, and with just one shot managed to blast off a whole, massive chunk of the plant’s “arm.” Some accounts report he even started shouting “Timber!” as the cactus fell, although he only got as far as “Tim–” before he was interrupted.

In an impressively instant case of revenge on the part of mother nature, the wounded cactus fell directly on Grundman and crushed him to death.

7 Pietro Aretino

Pietro Aretino

Pietro Aretino was an unrelenting Venetian 16th Century satirist, notable for his saucy humor aimed at the aristocrats. As such, it’s only fitting that this famous humorist’s death was brought on by a dirty joke.

Aretino was never one to shy away from a naughty story. One day, he was told a particularly dirty one about his (possibly imaginary) sisters and the brothel they worked in. Instead of getting offended, Aretino found this hilarious. He laughed and laughed and laughed—until he collapsed backwards in his chair, dying as he hit the ground. He literally laughed himself to death.

6 Basil Brown

Carrot Juice

Most people who pay attention to their diet are likely to live longer than those who eat lard at every meal. However, Basil Brown was not most people. He was a die-hard health advocate—literally.

In 1974, Mr. Brown managed to drink himself to death with one of the healthiest imaginable drinks in existence: Carrot juice. The problem was that he was drinking way too much of it: a gallon each day, for 10 days. However, despite warnings, he didn’t realize that too much of a good thing can become very bad indeed: The massive dose gave him a severe vitamin A poisoning, a bright yellow skin and a completely ruined liver. He ended up getting killed by his “healthy” obsession.

5 Nitaro Ito


In 1979, Nitaro Ito was a political hopeful vying for a seat at the Japanese House of Representatives. Ito wasn’t happy with how his campaign was going, so he decided it was time for drastic action: In an effort to gain some sympathy votes, he decided to stage an attack against himself. After all, what would be the better way to get the public’s attention than to be hospitalized in an attack by a mysterious enemy wielding a knife?

Ito couldn’t trust anyone with the “attack,” so he decided to stage the stabbing himself. Sadly, he was not too handy with a knife: He managed to hit his own thigh artery and ended up bleeding to death.

4 Zishe Breitbart

According to many, Siegmund “Zishe” Breitbart was the strongest man of his time. A 20th century strongman, Zishe was a hit on the circus circuit and even appeared in movies to show his incredible feats of strength. He could hammer huge nails into planks with his bare hands and bend iron bars like they were candy. He could even lift baby elephants—while climbing a ladder and supporting three men in a locomotive wheel by a rope in his teeth. He was the closest thing there was to Superman.

That is, until one day in 1925, when a nail scratched his knee during a routine performance. This seemingly laughable injury gave the invincible strongman blood poisoning and killed him.

3 James Otis Jr.

James Otis Jr

James Otis Jr. was a famed American Revolutionary and a political force to be reckoned with: He invented the famous phrase “Taxation without representation is tyranny,” which became one of the rallying cries of the revolutionaries. At his peak (before an unfortunate head injury sent him to sidelines), Otis Jr. was a solid, level-headed man except for one thing: He had a peculiar tendency to insist that he would like to be killed by a bolt of lightining. He repeated this so often to many friends and relatives that it became something of a meme.

Apparently, some thunderbolt-throwing entity had been paying attention to his words. On May 23, 1783, it is said James Otis Jr. was standing in a doorway of a friend’s house when a lightning suddenly struck the chimney, killing him instantly without leaving a mark. Strangely, no one else was harmed and no further lightning bolts—or, for that matter, thunderclouds—were seen.

2 Governor Morris

Governor MorrisGovernor Morris, a revered American legislator, was a no-nonsense kind of guy. Nowhere was this more evident than in the events that led to his death. When he was experiencing a urinary blockage, he didn’t trust the doctors to take care of the situation. Instead, he decided to settle the matter himself. Sadly, he was far better at determination than doctoring.

His solution to the problem was extreme, to say the least: He stuck a piece of whalebone up his urinary tract and wiggle it around in an effort to remove the blockage. This cringe-inducing procedure failed to do anything to heal him—instead, it caused enough damage to kill him.

1 Arrhichion


In 564 BC, Arrichion the Wrestler became the only person to win the Olympic gold by dying. Arrichion was a superstar of his age, a nigh-unbeatable wrestling god who went from victory to victory. But one day in the Olympic finals, he finally met his match.

Arrichion found himself caught in a deadly ladder hold, a choke move that completely prevented him from breathing. He was out of options: If he wouldn’t submit, he’d asphyxiate. Clearly, the only reasonable thing to do was to submit and suffer a loss.

However, Arrichion opted for the unreasonable and, in fact, unbelievable. Inspired by the shouts of his coach (who probably didn’t realize how dire the situation was), the wrestler rolled into an even more painful position, thus gaining access to the opponent’s foot. This brave move ended up killing him, but he was able to twist the other wrestler’s foot so painfully that he submitted at the exact same moment Arrichion’s life left him.

Arrichion had won the Olympic gold, and all it cost him was his life.

+ Draco The Greek


Draco was one of the earliest notable Greek politicians. He was a very popular lawmaker and a powerful orator Sadly, history books say that his popularity ended up causing his untimely death.

Draco was so loved that when the people saw him, he was pelted with hats and cloaks in a display of honor. Sadly, one particular body of people that chose to give him such honor was very large and had an extremely good aim. Draco was smothered to death under the massive pile of cloaks.

Pauli Poisuo also writes for Why not follow him on Twitter?

fact checked by Jamie Frater