Show Mobile Navigation
Humans |

10 Ordinary Things People Did That Turned Horribly Disastrous

by Sam Derwin
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Many things that we do in life are ordinary. In fact, the lives of most people aren’t that entertaining or surprising. Sometimes, however, the ordinary or relatively common things done by people turn into huge disasters.

10 Charity Releases Balloons


On the morning of September 27, 1986, more than 2,000 volunteers filled 1.5 million balloons before releasing them all at once from under a large plastic tarp. The stunt had been organized by the United Way to break the world’s record for the largest number of balloons released at once.

However, the weather was poor that morning and the balloons were forced down by rain. As it turned out, the record-breaking event backfired in spectacular ways.

First, the balloons temporarily shut down the runway at a nearby airport. Also, the balloons temporarily interrupted Coast Guard attempts to find two fishermen whose boat had capsized.

This may have contributed to the drowning of the two men. A lawsuit brought by the widowed spouse of one of the fishermen against the charity was settled out of court. The same thing happened with another lawsuit from a woman who claimed that the balloons had spooked her prized horses. One horse had been injured and was euthanized as a result.

9 Cremating A Corpse


The cremation of corpses is an everyday occurrence and usually doesn’t cause much of a problem. However, human fat is extremely combustible. In sufficient quantities, it can burn so hot that the crematorium can’t handle it. This actually happened in 2012 when a 200-kilogram (440 lb) female corpse was cremated in Austria.

A large amount of soot released by the burning corpse blocked an air filter, causing the furnace to overheat. The crematorium nearly burned down before firemen managed to extinguish the blaze. However, the crematorium was still covered in a layer of sooty grease from the burning corpse.

With the worldwide rise in obesity, this issue will become an increasing problem in the future. Although crematorium sizes have expanded to accommodate larger corpses, the rate of expansion may not be enough to catch up to people’s ever-expanding waistlines.

8 Using Bug Bombs

Bug bomb may be to blame for explosion inside Lawndale home

When a woman found her apartment infested with bugs in 2012, she did what many people would have done and tried to use bug bombs to smoke them out. But she overdid it, using 20 bug bombs in one room of her apartment and then another 20 bug bombs in another room.

Her oven was on, which ignited the fumes from the bug bombs and caused a massive explosion that blew out the wall of the apartment building. It partially collapsed and injured a dozen people.

Bug bombs can be quite flammable. There is a misconception that the more bug bombs you use, the more effective they are. But only one bug bomb is needed. It doesn’t help that bug bombs are also quite cheap. In the US, the overuse of bug bombs causes 500 explosive and incendiary incidents every year.

7 Weighing People


Obviously, people keep track of how much weight they’ve lost by weighing themselves. But when a group of obese people come together, such as in a Weight Watchers clinic, their combined weight can be heavy enough to cause structural failure of the building.

In 2010, a group of overweight dieters lined up to see how much weight they had lost when the floor beneath their feet started to shake. Initially, they thought an earthquake was happening. But it was the floor failing under their combined weight.

Parts of the floor started to collapse, including along the walls, and the attendees heard a huge thud. Thankfully, no one was injured. The obese people who had gathered to weigh themselves went into the corridor of the building, which had not collapsed. They moved their scales out of the collapsed room and continued their weekly weigh-ins.

6 Captain Tries To Impress Mistress And Causes Maritime Disaster

Dancer admits affair with Costa Concordia captain

The 2012 Costa Concordia disaster enraged the world when we learned that the captain had abandoned the ship, leaving the crew and passengers to fend for themselves. Initially, it was unclear why the captain had sailed his ship so close to the island of Giglio.

However, testimony from both passengers and crew members clarified the cause. The captain had been having an affair and was trying to show off for his mistress, a dancer and tourist representative who was not supposed to be there.

The captain decided to sail close to Giglio as a salute. He invited his mistress to the bridge to watch. However, he misjudged the distance between the island and the ship.

A rocky outcrop ripped into the side of the ship, causing it to sink. In the ensuing chaos, 32 passengers died and the ship was declared a total loss—all because the captain had tried to impress a pretty girl.

5 Burglary Suspect Runs From Police Only To Be Eaten By An Alligator

When you’re robbing homes and the police give chase, you run and hide. However, if you hide in the wrong place, you could end up dead. In 2015, that’s what happened to Matthew Riggins in Florida.

On the run from police after robbing a string of homes, Riggins decided to hide in a lake. But the lake also contained a ferocious alligator, which killed Riggins. The next day, his family contacted police because Riggins was missing.

By the time police found his body more than 10 days later, parts of it had been eaten. When police waded into the lake to retrieve Riggins’s body, the alligator was so vicious that it had to be euthanized. When the alligator was cut open later, its stomach contained some of Riggins’s flesh.

4 US Citizen Goes Overseas And Has To Illegally Immigrate Home


An estimated three to six million Americans live overseas permanently. Raymond Earl Knaeble was one of those expatriates. A former US soldier who converted to Islam in 2008, Knaeble lived in Colombia.

In 2010, he needed a medical exam in the US to get a new job. But when he tried to board a plane to Texas, he was barred from the flight for no apparent reason. He lost the job opportunity and desperately wanted to get home.

His first plan was to fly to Mexico and cross the US-Mexican border. But that plan was derailed by the Mexican government, which deported him to Colombia.

His second plan was to fly to Panama and take buses through Central America to the US-Mexican border. But this was also fraught with peril. Hostile government officials interrogated him constantly.

When he finally reached the US-Mexican border, he was interrogated by US officials for hours before he was released—much like an illegal immigrant would be treated if trying to get into the US.

3 Man Tries To Commit Insurance Fraud And Blows Up City Block

In late 2012, Mark Leonard, his girlfriend, Monserrate Shirley, and his half brother, Bob Leonard, tried to get a $300,000 insurance payout by burning down their house. The first attempt failed, so they tried again.

This time, they filled their house with natural gas and set a mechanism to ignite the gas. Instead of just destroying their own house, the blast was so powerful that it killed two neighbors and damaged 80 other homes in their neighborhood.

Prosecutors charged the two men with murder. The girlfriend took a plea deal and testified against her boyfriend and his half brother. In 2015, both men were convicted of murder and arson and given life sentences in jail.

2 Snowboarder Sneaks Into Restricted Area And Causes Avalanche

Watch The Terrifying Moment A Snowboarder Gets Caught In An Avalanche

Christian Mares was a snowboarder who sneaked into a closed area of the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Sacramento, California, in early 2016. Mares was attempting to snowboard there but instead triggered a massive avalanche.

Mares caught the whole thing on camera as he was nearly buried alive. He claimed that he hadn’t seen the signs indicating that the area was closed off. He said that he just wanted to have some fun.

Despite his close call with death, Mares was charged with trespassing under California law. Ski resort officials claimed that he would have noticed the high risk of avalanches in the area if he had checked weather conditions the day before he went snowboarding.

By triggering the avalanche, Mares also endangered the lives of other people in the area. Others could have been buried by the avalanche, too.

1 Scientist Takes Plankton Samples And Nearly Causes Pandemic


During the Cold War, the Soviets had an active bioweapons program and conducted various tests of biological agents in natural environments. On an island in the Aral Sea in 1971, one such test nearly caused an outbreak of a virulent and hemorrhagic form of smallpox that could have spread across the world.

A Soviet scientific research ship had unknowingly sailed close to the island to take plankton samples. A scientist aboard the ship became infected. After the ship returned to the port of Aralsk, she infected others.

When the Soviets realized what was happening, they initiated a massive vaccination program and shut down transport from Aralsk to other parts of the Soviet Union. This prevented a potentially global outbreak of hemorrhagic smallpox.

Three people died. Even those who had been vaccinated against smallpox got mild to severe cases of the disease, which was an indication of the virulence of this particular strain.

Sam Derwin writes and writes!

fact checked by Jamie Frater