Death comes to us all, and in an infinite variety of ways. Most of us would prefer a peaceful end - or at least a quick and relatively painless death if accident should befall us. Sometimes, though, fate has other ideas. Throughout history, there have been many unusual and mysterious deaths. Some of them have been downright bizzare. Here are 11 incredibly weird ways people have died:
1. Biting One's Tongue
One of history's most famous detectives was Allan Pinkerton. His agency was known for its uncanny ability to solve mysteries, but it was no mystery how Pinkerton died. One day in 1884, Pinkerton fell, biting his tongue as he did so. An infection set in, and three weeks later Pinkerton died from gangrene.
The Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley, were two of the most famous hoarders ever. These men kept everything from newspapers to pianos; they also set up booby traps to catch those who might intrude on their valued privacy. One day in 1947, the police were called to the Collyer home, where they found Homer dead of starvation. Normally, Langley took care of Homer, who was paralyzed by that time. However, Langley was nowhere to be found. Homer hadn't been fed for days, and died. Two weeks later, authorities found Langley's body. He had set off one of the booby traps and was buried underneath their mountains of hoarded trash.
3. Falling Out of Bed
In 2008, Miami University student Aaron Miller died when he fell out of bed. To be fair, his bed was six feet off the ground, so that might have contributed to the fatal injuries sustained. While that may not seem like a very large drop, it depends on how you fall - and whether you land on your head.
4. Reaching for the Moon
The phrase "reaching for the moon" normally is used as a metaphor for having high expectations or attempting to achieve lofty goals. Chinese poet Li Po (called Li Bai in China), though, died in an actual attempt to embrace the moon. Li Po was well known for his drunkenness, as well as for his beautiful poems. One night, while drunk on a boat, Li Po saw the moon's reflection in the Yangtze River. He attempted to take the moon into his arms, but instead fell out of the boat and drowned.
5. Jogging (plus tree branch)
Normally, you would think that a healthy activity like jogging would prolong your life. However, in a 2009 case of a Philadelphia woman, jogging proved fatal. She was exercising in Fairmont Park when a branch fell on her. The branch was 30 feet long and fell from a height of about 50 feet. The sad thing is that this might have been prevented: If the woman hadn't been listening to music through headphones, she might have heard the branch breaking and been able to avoid being hit.
6. Overcoat Parachute
Most people today wouldn't think that a coat would make a good parachute. But in 1912 inventor Franz Reichelt gave it a try. He created a parachute out of an overcoat. Reichelt had wanted to create a suit for those who had to leave aircraft unexpectedly. The wearable parachute would save lives - or so he thought. Reichelt decided to test the design from the Eiffel Tower. However, instead of using a dummy, as he told authorities he would, Reichelt tested the parachute on himself. The parachute was a failure, and Reichelt fell to his death.
7. Airplane Slicing a Ski Tram Cable
In 1998 a freak accident claimed the lives of 20 skiers in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy. As a cable car ascended the mountain carrying holidaymakers, a U.S. military jet on a training exercise sliced the cable with its tail. The tram fell about 600 feet, killing everyone inside. The jet made an emergency landing, its crew unharmed.
The first robot to kill a human looked nothing like the humanoids in the Will Smith movie I, Robot. Instead, the robot was the kind used to assemble cars in a factory. Robert Williams died on the job in a Ford Motor casting plant in 1979 when the robot arm hit him. What made this death especially weird was that it occurred on the 58th anniversary of the play R.U.R. (about Rossum's Universal Robots), which is considered the first use of the word "robot" to describe an artificial person.
9. Helicopter Blade
Even though helicopter blades are normally way too high above the ground to hurt anyone, most people instinctively duck when anywhere in their vicinity. Actual decapitation due to helicopter blade is rather rare, but actor Vic Morrow died this way. In 1982, on the set of the movie Twilight Zone, a helicopter went out of control during a special effects sequence and the blades took off Morrow's head. Two young child actors were also killed, and director John Landis was indicted (but eventually acquitted) for involuntary manslaughter.
10. Taco Bell Sign
A high rise Taco Bell sign fell on a Nebraska woman in 2009. Because signs are regulated by municipal code, there are no national standards for ensuring their safety. As the result of some possible neglect, or even insufficient enforcement of regulations, the Taco Bell sign in question fell on the pickup truck Diana Durre was sitting in as she waited for someone who was selling her a dog.
11. Poison, Gunshot Wound, Beating, and Drowning
One of the weirdest stories of death is that of Grigori Rasputin, the Russian mystic and purported seer. Rasputin was admired at the court of Czar Nicholas II, but there were plenty who hated and feared him. The mystery of Rasputin's death has never been completely solved. However, accounts say that in 1916, after being invited to the home of the czar's nephew-in-law (who intended to kill him), he was first poisoned with cyanide, and then shot four times.
Still alive, legend says Rasputin was then beaten with clubs before being tossed into the freezing Neva River to drown. Theories about Rasputin's death continue to emerge, including one purporting that the British Secret Intelligence was involved in the plot.