July 28, 2017

"Zero risk is a fantasy"

French philosopher who wrote book on risk-taking dies rescuing children

 Anne Dufourmantelle

Anne Dufourmantelle entered the water at Pampelonne beach near St Tropez on 21 July after the children got into difficulty. Witnesses say she immediately tried to reach them but was swept away by a strong current. Attempts to resuscitate her after she was recovered failed, according to local media reports. The children were later rescued by lifeguards, unharmed.
French culture minister, Françoise Nyssen, said Dufourmantelle was: 'a great philosopher, a psychoanalyst, she helped us to live and think about the world today.'

'Life begins with risk': A great mind on why 'zero risk is a fantasy'

In 2015, she told French daily Liberation that the idea of a life with 'absolute security - like "zero risk" - is a fantasy.
'When there really is a danger that must be faced in order to survive, as for example during the Blitz in London, there is a strong incentive for action, dedication, and surpassing oneself,' she said. 'It is said: 'to risk one's life', but perhaps one should say 'to risk life', [because] being alive is a risk,' Dufourmantelle added. 'Life is metamorphosis. It begins with this risk.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:08 PM | Permalink

July 13, 2017

Killed by the whale he saved

Beloved fisherman who dedicated his life to saving whales is killed by one after he rescued it from tangled ropes

Joe Howlett, 59, was killed Monday in the waters of his New Brunswick, Canada home of Campobello Island, as he used his expertise to assist authorities in the rescue of a North Atlantic right whale. Howlett had successfully rescued over two dozen whales caught in lines over the past 15 years, his friends said.

 Joe Howlett Canadian Fisherman

"He is a very knowledgeable fishermen, and who better to do disentanglements than a fisherman who knows the knots and the ropes and the gear?' Jerry Conway of the Canadian Whale Institute told the Canadian Press. "He was a hero, he knew he was putting his life on the line with a 70-ton whale that is upset … trying to deal with a wild animal. "
It's unclear exactly what led to Howlett's death, but the massive whale apparently made a sudden movement during the rescue. 'They got the whale totally disentangled and then some kind of freak thing happened and the whale made a big flip,' said Mackie Green, who co-founded the Campobello Whale Rescue Team with Howlett in 2002.

Fisherman who died saving whale saw rescue as a duty

Monday was just another day at work for Howlett.  When he left Campobello, an island off the Maine coast in the Bay of Fundy, he planned to guide a research team surveying the increased number of right whales showing up in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.....They were all aboard the Shelagh, a vessel owned by the Canadian Whale Institute, and Howlett was captain. Depending on the weather, he expected to stay out another three or four days, but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans asked for his help disentangling a North Atlantic right whale last week and another whale on Monday.

Typically, a vessel will back off immediately after a rescue because whales do respond in seconds to being set free, his friend Jerry Conway said. It can take hours to disentangle some of the whales. While they are entangled they can't move very much, which makes it easy to work with them. 

 Entangled Whale
Entangled whale that Joe Howlett rescued in August, 2016

 Howlett-Freeing Whale 2016

Joe Howlett freeing whale in August, 2016

The team received their training and equipment from the Department of Fisheries in Halifax, including being given a 26-foot, high-speed zodiac boat, which they use to travel across the Bay whenever they were called to a rescue. Rescuers are faced with all kinds of dangers, Conway said, including getting entangled in rope themselves, being dragged over the side of the boat, or being tipped into the water if a whale throws itself around and upsets the boat.

Howlett, who co-founded the Campobello rescue team in 2002, felt a responsibility to save whales and was always thrilled when he could disentangle one from ropes. "Once he finished the cut, and the rope fell away, you couldn't find a man more excited and happy than Joe for having accomplished this, and seeing the whale swim away free," said Conway, a friend for 18 years.

May his widow, his two sons and his Campobello friends find some small consolation that Joe Howlett died doing what he loved.    May he rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 PM | Permalink

May 25, 2017

Elephants remember

Big Game Hunter Crushed to Death by Elephant

Theunis Botha, 51, ran a professional hunting safari service that takes rich clients into the wilderness to kill large animals. According to the company’s website, it specializes in hunting leopards and lions with trained hounds.

On Friday afternoon, Botha was leading a hunt in Gwai, Zimbabwe, when they stumbled upon a herd of mating elephants. From the report: Three elephant cows stormed the hunters and Botha shot at them. A fourth cow stormed them from the side and one of the hunters shot her after she’d lifted Botha with her trunk. The shot was fatal and as the cow collapsed, she fell on Botha.

Though Botha specializes in leopards and lions, a wide variety of dead animals can be seen next to smiling rich men in memento photos on the company’s website. Several show Botha standing beside enormous trophy elephants


Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:13 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2017

More bizarre deaths

Part of an intermittent series, these short snippets of untimely and unexpected deaths can not begin to hint at the grief and loss their families and friends will experience for years to come.  May their memory be a blessing. May they all Rest in Peace and perpetual light shine upon them. 

American PhD student in Ireland dies in a house fire 'caused by a faulty cellphone charger'

Grace McDermott, 26, a PhD researcher at Dublin City University, was visiting some friends in Limerick for the weekend. There were four other people in the house with her, three men and another woman, who all escaped uninjured, and were the ones who notified authorities.

 Grace Mcdermott

Two parents accidentally die of carbon monoxide poisoning while sitting and talking in an SUV in a Kansas City Wal-Mart parking lot

Carolyn Williams-Cottier, 26, mother of two small children, and Trevor Roth, 30, father of three children, had no way of knowing what was happening because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, police said.

Famed Swiss climber Ueli Steck, 40,  was killed in a mountaineering accident on Mount Everest.

He slipped and fell some 3,000 ft, severing his body into bits and pieces, said expedition organizers.  One of the most-renowned mountaineers of his generation, Steck said, before he set off on his expedition, 'I think being in the mountains is the best thing in life. Once you are out you are free and can do what you like to do.'

'Brilliant' MIT computer programming graduate, 24, dies after slipping and falling while trying to climb school's iconic dome

The MIT graduate died while trying to climb his alma mater's iconic 150ft-high dome.  Nicholas Paggi, 24, died after he climbed the roof near the dome and slipped off.  The 2015 graduate of the top global university was climbing the dome as a fun sort of prank, said his mother. He was working as a software engineer and had graduated with degrees in computer science and engineering, and physics, the school's newspaper The Tech reports. Doctor Rich Fletcher told CBS: 'He was one of the greatest computer programmers I've worked with.'  He added: 'He was a great mentor to all students. It's such a loss to all of us.'

 Nicholas Paggi Mit Grad

British tourist Dean Steele, 22, is run down and killed 'while taking selfies with his friends' in the middle of a MOTORWAY in Germany

Shark lover, 30, who devoted his life to warning people about the predators is mauled to death off the French island of Reunion

Adrien Dubosc, 30, died off the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean just two months after one of his best friends died in almost identical circumstances.  Mr Dubosc was a member of Shark Watch Patrol, an organization dedicated to cutting down on shark deaths on Reunion, which is plagued by man-eating bull and tiger sharks. Despite this, he loved the fish, and regularly posted Facebook pictures of ones he had seen, together with biological details about them.

Patient dies after local mayor takes Brazilian hospital's last oxygen cylinder so he can use it to pump BEER at a party

Jose Claudio Pol charged with murder after patient died from heart attack. He ordered council worker to remove the only cylinder from town's health centre. Photos emerged of him using oxygen cylinder as a beer keg at New Year's party. A technical report found that his actions led to the death of the patient.

Teenage sweethearts fall nine floors to their death after elevator's glass floor COLLAPSES

Boy and girl, both 17, were leaving a luxury block of flats in Salamanca.  The young couple were on their way to a party to celebrate the end of exams.  It is believed either the floor or a wall of a lift gave way.

Married father-of-five, 45, is killed by a stranger after sucker-punch to the face on the street

Luis Campos, of California, was sucker-punched on Fremont Street in Las Vegas Sunday and died from his injuries in the hospital three days later.  Campos was in town to attend his brother's bachelor party; he was supposed to be the best man in the wedding.  The father-of-five was waiting with his other brother to get into a lounge when two men came up to him and one struck him in the face before fleeing. Las Vegas police on Thursday released CCTV video showing the pair, Hispanic men in their 20s, running away from the scene.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2017

Death in the Most Rock-and-Roll Way Ever

The Music Legend Who Died Onstage

When musician Bruce Hampton collapsed on stage Monday night, his band thought it was a theatrical end to a celebratory night and kept on playing for several minutes.....The guitarist/singer/bandleader was performing at Atlanta’s Fox Theater for his 70th birthday surrounded by over 30 of his acolytes, including members of the Allman Brothers Band, Phish, REM, Blues Traveler and Widespread Panic. They were all there because they consider Mr. Hampton a primary musical inspiration.

 Guitarist Bruce Hampton

The sold-out show concluded with the musicians on stage smiling broadly as Mr. Hampton led them through Bobby Bland’s “Turn On Your Lovelight.” He pointed to 14-year-old Brandon Niederauer to solo on guitar and then went to one knee, collapsed and died. It was several minutes before the band stopped and EMTs rushed on stage to try and revive Mr. Hampton.

He died shortly thereafter at a nearby hospital.

“It wasn’t the first time any of us had seen him on the floor like James Brown,” says Jeff Sipe, a drummer and longtime collaborator who was conducting the musicians. “It took a minute for concern to grow.”

Fans and musicians who were present described a raucous crowd of 5,000 chanting “Bruuuuuce” throughout the night. Mr. Hampton performed a 20-minute set at the start and then joined in occasionally, mostly watching from a chair on stage. Performers ranged across generations, from the 14-year-old Niederauer, a star of Broadway’s “School of Rock,” to 88-year-old pianist Johnny Knapp, who recorded with Billie Holiday.

“Everybody was devastated,” says Mr. Haynes, himself a jam band kingpin as frontman for Gov’t Mule and formerly the Allman Brothers Band. “It was one of the most epic nights of music anyone on stage or in the audience has ever experienced. To go from honoring Bruce in this amazing way to mourning him in the blink of an eye was emotionally jarring.”....

“There was an incredible feeling in the building that it was a family reunion as much as concert,” says Widespread Panic’s John Bell. “Everyone rose to the occasion, including Bruce, who was playing and singing as well as I’ve ever seen him. He was in command until the last second and it was glorious to see. I believe he went from fully present in this world to fully present in another world, with very little in the middle.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

March 2, 2017

Mum's List

Husband of dying mother who left a checklist for her children reveals new film about her life reduced him to tears

Kate Greene, from Somerset, died of cancer in 2010 at the age of 38.  She left behind husband St John and two young sons, Reef and Finn.  Her checklist for them included having boys roller skate in a museum. Her story, based on St John's book, is now a new movie, Mum's List

 Mother Kategreene+2Sons

The story of Kate Greene's courageous battle with cancer and the moving 100-strong list of hopes, ambitions and instructions that she wrote for her husband and sons days before she died has captured the public imagination, selling more than 100,000 copies in two just two months.

Four years on, and the story has grown into the new film starring Emilia Fox, and Rafe Spall as St John battles to build a new life without her...As he watches the scene unfold through the gloom of a cinema screening room, St John Greene's eyes fill with tears. There, in the opening sequence of a major new film, is his late wife Kate, played with unbearable realism by actress Emilia Fox.

'I bawled my eyes out when I saw the film for the first time,' he admits today. 'She really did Kate proud. She captured her exactly. That smile. Her exuberance. The passionate, all-consuming love for our kids. It was like watching Kate return to life.'

Mum's List ....ranged from the eminently sensible to the thrilling: 'Try not to let them go into the Forces; always kiss the boys goodbye and good night; buy a family dining table so you can have meals together.'  Item by item, she set down her hopes for her children's future.There were requests for skiing and boating; trips to see the Northern Lights and international sports fixtures; camping, caravanning and picnics in favorite places. And, poignantly, a request her husband find a new wife to help bring up her boys.

In the intervening years St John and his sons have fulfilled many of Kate's wishes, although not yet all. 'One important one was to have the boys roller skate in a museum, hilariously something they always wanted to do,' he says. 'To my astonishment the Natural History Museum happily agreed to close for a bit and let us do just that. That was one of the most fun.....

Mindful that one of Kate's hopes was that he find another woman to help provide a stable family for their sons, he has a new partner. 'We are a family again,' he says. 'But Kate will be forever in our lives.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 PM | Permalink

February 5, 2016

No sympathy, no condolences

Man sucked out of passenger jet after bomb exploded was suicide bomber who smuggled his device on board in his WHEELCHAIR, claim investigators

A wheelchair bound suicide bomber may have been responsible for the explosion which tore a hole in the side of a jet in Somalia, investigators have said.  They said the suspected terrorist, thought to be part of the Al-Shabaab Islamist group, may have faked a disability to bypass security checks at Mogadishu airport.
The suspected bomber is also thought to be the man who was sucked out of the plane after blowing a hole in the fuselage, shortly after the plane filled with more than 70 passengers took off from the Somali capital.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 AM | Permalink

March 25, 2014

Giraffe in final goodbye that gave goose bumps to everyone watching

In the Netherlands, Giraffe licks dying zoo worker

 2Giraffe Licks Dying Man-1

A giraffe gave a lick to a dying man who asked as a last wish to be taken to Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where he had done odd jobs for 25 years.

Mario Eijs, who is mentally disabled, had developed a brain tumor and had difficulty walking or speaking. He wanted to pay a final visit to the co-workers and animals he loved.

The Stichting Ambulance Wens offers free transport to terminally ill patients.

Several giraffes became curious when Eijs was brought to their inside enclosure on March 19.

"Mario got a lick on his nose after a lot of snuffles," Foundation worker Olaf Exoo said in a written summary of the day. Exoo said it was "a last greeting to each other that gave everybody watching goose bumps."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 AM | Permalink

June 4, 2013

'They were screaming "we're going to die, we're going to die"'

Tragic last words of father-and-son storm chasers killed when tornado threw their car somersaulting half a mile

A father-and-son team of storm chasers and their long-time partner were heard screaming 'we're going to die, we're going to die' on highway patrol radio moments before they were killed by one of the savage twisters they'd devoted their lives to following.

Tim Samaras, 55, along with his son, Paul Samaras, 24, and Carl Young, 45, died on Friday in El Reno after a tornado that packed winds of up to 165 mph picked up their car and threw it, somersaulting, a half a mile.  The elder Samaras' body was still belted into their Chevrolet Cobalt, which was found on an unimproved county road parallel to Interstate 40. The other victims' bodies were found half a mile to the east and half a mile to the west, Canadian County under-sheriff Chris West said.


But before their stalking of the dangerous vortex turned deadly, their cries could be heard by Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph. 'They were screaming, "We're going to die, we're going to die,"' she recalled to USA Today. 'There was just no place to go. There was no place to hide.'  According to Mr West, their vehicle looked ' like it had gone through a trash compactor' when it was found.
The news comes as the death toll from Friday's tornadoes and storms in Oklahoma has risen to 18 people, including six children and 12 adults, the Oklahoma chief medical examiner said on Monday.  Officials added five victims on Monday to the confirmed list of dead from the tornadoes and from storms that caused severe flooding: three adults and two unidentified children, the medical examiner's office said.

Sincere condolences to all the families who lost a loved one.    May they rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 AM | Permalink

March 13, 2013

"It wasn't my wife and I knew it"

Mortuary buries wrong woman after mix-up even AFTER her husband of 51 years complained

A California funeral home has admitted to a massive mix-up by burying the wrong woman - even after the deceased's husband told them that it wasn't his wife.

At an open casket viewing on March 1st, Evans Davidson, 73, informed officials at Simpson's Mortuary in Ingelwood that he was 'pretty certain' the woman in the casket wasn't Darlene, his wife of 51-years.

'It wasn’t my wife and I knew it,' said Davidson. However, he claims he was pressured by mortuary employees into going ahead with the funeral after they told him the embalming process can sometimes change a loved ones appearance.

However, six days after they had buried 82-year-old Darlene, the family received a phone call from the mortuary informing them that their loved one in fact had never left the building and they had buried a complete stranger.
'He had a lady over there jumping up and down, saying the lady that she came to visit was not her mother,' said Davidson.

Hesitant about being asked to identify a body, when he wanted to believe his wife was already laid to rest, Davidson reluctantly made his way over.
'I didn’t know what to think,' said Davidson to NBC Los Angeles. 'Why am I going to ID a body when my wife’s supposed to be buried already?'

Upon arriving, he was stunned. 'I saw my wife, and the shock just knocked me down,' said the traumatized widower.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 AM | Permalink

February 22, 2013

'Surprise - It's a double header'

Heartbroken husband, 94, dies on the way to his 89-year-old wife's funeral after inseparable couple had joked they would 'never leave one spouse behind'

A heartbroken husband who died on the way to his wife's funeral on Saturday was honored by his family in the way that he had lived - and laid to rest alongside his beloved spouse.
Norman Hendrickson, 94, died suddenly en route to his 89-year-old wife Gwendoline's funeral on February 16. The couple had been married for 66 years.

In the midst of their grief, the couple's daughters knew that there was only one thing to do - hold a joint service for their parents who had been inseparable throughout their lives.
Mr Hendrickson, a World War II veteran, was mourned at the same New York funeral home where his wife Gwen's funeral was already scheduled last Saturday.

Mrs Hendrickson was 89 when she died on February 8. Her husband died just steps from the funeral home where he had planned to say goodbye to his wife.  The couple's two daughters Norman and Merrilyne said it was a fitting way to say goodbye to a couple who had been together since meeting in Britain during World War II.  Norman was overseas with the U.S. Army when he met Gwen, who was serving in the British Royal Air Force. She immigrated to America and they were married in May 1947.

 Norman&Gwendoline Hendrickson

Norma Howland told the Post-Star of Glens Falls: 'After we had a little time to process the shock and horror, we felt we couldn't have written a more perfect script.
'My sister said the only thing he didn't do was fall into the casket.'

Mr Hendrickson, a former assistant postmaster in Cambridge, was being driven in a limousine to the Ackley and Ross Funeral Home for his wife's service when he stopped breathing.
After the limo pulled up, funeral director Jim Gariepy, who is also the local coroner, and funeral home owner Elizabeth Nichols-Ross helped move Norman to the sidewalk outside the business.
Gariepy began CPR while Ms Nichols-Ross and one Norman's sons-in-law raced across town to retrieve his do-not-resuscitate orders from the Hendricksons' refrigerator door.

Once the orders were in hand, an emergency crew that had arrived ceased attempts to revive Norman. He died on the sidewalk.

Nichols-Ross said daughter Merrilyne Hendrickson then requested that her father's body be put into a casket and placed in the viewing room with her mother's cremated remains, which had been placed in an urn.

Mourners who started arriving soon after for Gwen's funeral were greeted by a note Merrilyne posted at the entrance: 'Surprise - It's a double header - Gwen and Norman Hendrickson - February 16, 2013.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2013

Chris Kyle, R.I.P.

Renowned Navy SEAL sniper shot dead at Texas gun range; suspect charged

Chris Kyle, known as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history,” was reportedly shot and killed at the Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, Texas on Saturday.

Kyle, a former Navy SEAL sniper and author of the best-seller “American Sniper,” and a friend were found dead at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range. According to WWFA-TV in Dallas, “Kyle was shot point-blank while helping another soldier who is recovering from post traumatic stress syndrome.”

Jack Murphy at the Special Operations Forces Situation Report (SOFREP) published a post regarding the tragic murders on Saturday night, reading in part: “Chris had been volunteering his time to help Marine Corps veterans suffering from PTSD and mentoring them.  Part of this process involved taking these veterans to the range where one of them snapped and killed Chris and his neighbor for reasons that remain unknown at this time.  The perpetrator then stole Chris’ vehicle in an attempt to escape but we have received word that the police have arrested him.”

 Chris Kyle American Sniper

Untouchable in Iraq, Ex-Sniper Dies in a Shooting Back Home

From his perch in hide-outs above battle-scarred Iraq, Chris Kyle earned a reputation as one of America’s deadliest military snipers. The Pentagon said his skills with a rifle so terrorized Iraqi insurgents during his four tours of duty that they nicknamed him the “Devil of Ramadi” and put a bounty on his head.

The insurgents never collected, and he returned home to become a best-selling author and a mentor to other veterans, sometimes taking them shooting at a gun range near his Texas home as a kind of therapy to salve battlefield scars, friends said. One such veteran was Eddie Ray Routh, a 25-year-old Marine who had served tours in Iraq and Haiti. 

But on Saturday, far from a war zone, Mr. Routh turned on Mr. Kyle, 38, and a second man, Chad Littlefield, 35, shortly after they arrived at an exclusive shooting range near Glen Rose, Tex., about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, law enforcement authorities said Sunday. The officials said that for reasons that were still unclear, Mr. Routh shot and killed both men with a semiautomatic handgun before fleeing in a pickup truck belonging to Mr. Kyle.

“Chad and Chris had taken a veteran out to shoot to try to help him,” said Travis Cox, a friend of Mr. Kyle’s. “And they were killed.”

Mr. Routh was captured a few hours later near his home in Lancaster, a southern Dallas suburb, following a brief pursuit. He will be charged with two counts of capital murder, law enforcement officials said.

“He served this country with extreme honor, but came home and was a servant leader in helping his brothers and sisters dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Mr. Cox, also a former military sniper. “Everyone has their own inner struggles, but he was very proactive about the things he was dealing with.”

In 2011, Mr. Kyle created the Fitco Cares Foundation to provide veterans with exercise equipment and counseling. He believed that exercise and the camaraderie of fellow veterans could help former soldiers ease into civilian life.

Mr. Kyle, who lived outside of Dallas with his wife and their two children, had his own difficulties adjusting after retiring from the Navy SEALs. He was deployed in Iraq during the worst years of the insurgency, perched in or on top of bombed-out apartment buildings with his .300 Winchester Magnum. His job was to provide “overwatch,” preventing enemy fighters from ambushing Marine units.
In an interview with The New York Times in March, Mr. Kyle — who received two Silver Stars and five Bronze medals for valor — said he had hesitated to write about his experiences. But he was persuaded to move forward after hearing that other books about members of the SEALs were in the works.

“I wanted to tell my story as a SEAL,” he said. “This is about all the hardships that everybody has to go through to get the respect and the honor.”  But he also wanted his sense of humor to come out, he said, noting that he tried to “write in a Texas drawl.”

This man of valor who served his country with honor leaves a wife and two children behind as well.  He also leaves a great legacy but the manner of his death was a fitting one.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:55 AM | Permalink

September 23, 2012

Pregnant Skydiver on Her Last Jump

Pregnant Base jumper killed on last jump before she retired: Horrified boyfriend who jumped alongside her could only watch after her parachute failed to open

A pregnant Base jumper has died in what she had pledged would be her final leap before retiring.

 Wioletta Roslan

Wioletta Roslan, of Sweden, had said she would give up the high-risk sport after falling pregnant, but decided to make one last jump near Stechelberg, Switzerland, which ended in tragedy.  The 37-year-old adrenaline junkie was four months pregnant when she died after her parachute failed to open during a Base (Buildings, Antennas, Spans and Earth) jump last weekend.

Her boyfriend Aleksander Domalewski jumped alongside her and could do nothing but watch as she realized her parachute wouldn’t open and spread her arms awaiting the impact of the 990ft drop. The Via Ferrata cliff was Miss Roslan’s favorite spot for Base jumping and she had been there many times before with her partner.

She was experienced in extreme sports after taking up skydiving as a 19-year-old in Malmo, Sweden. Her mother Halina Zaniewska-Pettersson, 68, said: ‘I was always terrified every time I knew that she was doing the sport again and I kept expecting the worst.

'When she said that she was going to do one last jump while pregnant I begged her not to go. But she always wanted to carry on. I couldn't force not to do it – she was old enough to make up her own mind about things.’

Miss Roslan had managed to build a successful career as an inspector working on oil rigs – and in her spare time travelled the world as a professional Base jumper.

'I only feel alive when I jump. I find normal life boring. I know that death always flies with me but we only have a certain amount of time on the earth. When the sun goes down then it's game over whoever you are'
She had lived in the Berner Oberland region for two years doing odd jobs in order to spend every spare moment jumping from local cliffs.  She told her mother it had been the happiest time in her life and she wanted to go for a final jump with her boyfriend before retiring.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:37 PM | Permalink

September 18, 2012

Death by inhaling smoke from American flags he burned in protest

Pakistani Protester Dies From Smoke Of Burning American Flags

A Pakistani man, one of approximately 10,000 people participating in an anti-American rally, has died.  The cause of death?  Complications from inhaling the smoke of burning American flags.

The Express Tribune, a Pakistani newspaper affiliated with The International Herald Tribune (“The Global Edition of The New York Times”) reported:

One of the participants of the rally, Abdullah Ismail, passed away after he was taken to Mayo Hospital. Witnesses said he had complained of feeling unwell from the smoke from US flags burnt at the rally.

The rally is part of protests, organized by Jamaat-Ud-Dawa, the political arm of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.  Protesters are allegedly insulted by America’s unwillingness to punish the makers of the film “Innocence of Muslims.”  The protesters, demanding respect for and tolerance of Islam, threatened to destroy the U.S. consulate in Pakistan if the United States does not publicly hang the movie’s producer, director, and “all those involved in the production and release of the movie” (which would presumably include Google and YouTube employees).  The protesters also will not be satisfied until the United States makes a “law against blasphemy.”

Mark Steyn comments:

To the list of Islamic grievances – film trailers, cartoons, teddy bears, false rumors of flushed Korans, Burger King ice-cream cartons, non-Sharia-compliant mustaches – we must now add the appalling toxicity of the American flag:
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:29 PM | Permalink

August 28, 2012

"Obviously, his suit made it difficult for people to see him.”

Man posing as Bigfoot struck and killed by cars on highway

A man dressed in a military-style “ghillie” suit and apparently trying to provoke reports of a Bigfoot sighting in northwest Montana was struck by two cars and killed, authorities said.
He was trying to make people think he was Sasquatch so people would call in a Sasquatch sighting,” Schneider told the Daily Inter Lake on Monday. “You can’t make it up. I haven’t seen or heard of anything like this before. Obviously, his suit made it difficult for people to see him.”


Big Foot impersonator killed in the act: Man trying to create Sasquatch sighting is run over by 15-year-old girl

A man who was apparently trying to make passing motorists think that he was Bigfoot paid for the ruse with his life when he was run over by two cars on highway in northwestern Montana Sunday night.

The Montana Highway Patrol said the victim, identified as 44-year-old Randy Lee Tenley, was wearing a military-style ‘Ghillie suit’ and was standing in the right-hand lane of U.S. Highway 93 south of Kalispell when he was hit by the first car Sunday night.

A second car rolled over Tenley as he lay in the roadway. He suffered massive trauma and died at the scene, The Missoulian reported.
Bigfoot, also known as sasquatch, is the name given to the mysterious ape-like creature that some people believe inhabits forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.

Scientists discount the existence of Bigfoot, usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid, and consider it to be a combination of folklore, misidentification, and hoax.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2012

Death by eating

Obese mother who refused to stop eating after having gastric bypass choked to death on food that couldn't fit into her stomach

Dianne Bernadette Cooper-Clarke, 64, died after food clogged her throat and stopped her from breathing.  She had undergone gastric bypass surgery but kept it secret from her family and started eating too much after the operation.
Pathologist Hugh Jones, from the Royal Cornwall Hospital, carried out a post-mortem examination and said a back-log of food had stopped her breathing…'The tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach was swollen and food had built up all the way to the throat' he said.

'There was too much food in there. Doctors found no evidence of cancer and experts confirmed the gastric operation was carried out properly.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:07 AM | Permalink

March 14, 2012

‘He always said that’s the way he wanted to go.’

'He always said that's the way he wanted to go': Conductor dies in front of violinist wife DURING orchestra concert

A conductor suffered a fatal heart attack in the middle of a concert as his violinist wife watched in horror, it emerged today.

Vincent LaGuardia, 68, was taken ill as he conducted the Longtime Arapahoe Philharmonic, at Mission Hills Church, in Littleton, Colorado, on Friday.

He was conducting Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor, during the orchestra’s second-to-last performance of the season.

 Conductor Dies During Concert

The orchestra was about two thirds of the way through the piece when Mr LaGuardia fell to the floor.

Tracey LaGuardia, his wife of 25 years, was playing lead violin and looked on helplessly as desperate attempts were made to revive him.

‘All of a sudden, I looked up and he leaned into the front stand and fell onto his nose… he never came to,’ Mrs LaGuardia told AP.

She said he had suffered a massive heart attack in 1997 and had not been feeling well earlier in the week.

It happened so fast,’ she added. ‘He always said that’s the way he wanted to go.’
'One thing I just can't get out of my mind - this is what he loved to do and he died doing that,' Mrs Elias said Friday.

May he rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:30 AM | Permalink

October 20, 2011

One flesh, One heart beating for two

The story of the couple who were married for 72 and died holding hands has gone around the world.
But, as usual, The Daily Mail has the best written account.

Extraordinary love story of couple married for 72 years who died holding hands just an hour apart - and how wife's heartbeat kept her dead husband's heart monitor going

After 72 years of marriage they had only an hour's separation between them in their passing, yet their locked hands never let go.

The family of the Iowa couple say their life together was a real-life love story, never separated, even after their tragic car accident which sent them both to the hospital.

'They believed in marriage,' Dennis Yeager, the youngest son of Gordon Yeager, 94, and wife Norma, 90, told MailOnline. 'They chose each other and once they had committed, that was it.'

 Gordon,Norma Yeager

The couple were both born in Iowa before Gordon Yeager moved to a farm a Minnesota with his family. After it was badly hit by the Depression, 16-year-old Gordon returned to work at the Chevrolet Garage in State Center, Iowa - a business which he would eventually go on to own.

It was once back in the town, he fell in love with Norma who was still studying at high school.
After his proposal, Gordon and Norma were married on the very day that she graduated, May 26, 1939.  It was a small wedding held at 8pm that evening in the home of Gordon's sister, the expense of which was covered by the young man's first pay cheque.
After celebrating the rare achievement of a 70th wedding anniversary, surrounded by family, Dennis said his parents loved to spend time watching sports, socialising and walking their little Yorkie dog Radar.

'They were not your typical 90-year-olds,' he added. Dennis said that his father would continuously say, 'I have to stick around. I can't go until she does because I have to stay here for her and she would say the same thing.'

Last Wednesday while making a trip into town, the car Gordon Yeager was driving mistakenly pulled out in front of another.  A police report said the oncoming driver tried to avoid the collision, but it wasn't able to stop in time.  Rushing to the hospital, Dennis said he found his parents sharing a unit in the intensive care unit. Never separated and holding hands they lay, though 'not really responsive,' he said.

That afternoon at 3:38pm, Gordon passed away, with his wife and family beside him. The anomaly began though for the family, when Gordon's heart monitor kept beeping.  'It was really strange. They were holding hands, and dad stopped breathing but I couldn't figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going,' Dennis recalled.

'But we were like, he isn't breathing. How does he still have a heart beat?'

Dennis asked a nurse who checked, pointing out the couple's hands which were still locked together.
'Her heart was beating through him and picking it up,' Dennis said the nurse explained.
Exactly one hour later though, at 4:48pm, Norma died too.

'Neither one of them would've wanted to be without each other. I couldn't figure out how it was going to work,' said daughter Donna Sheets on what life would have been like for the other if only one had survived. 'We were very blessed, honestly, that they went this way.'

The couple held hands at their funeral Tuesday, sharing the same casket. Their family says after they are cremated, their ashes will be mixed together.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 PM | Permalink

August 3, 2011

Skydiving quadriplegic plunges to death

Disabled in a car crash as a junior in high school, Zack Fogle, a quadraplegic with limited mobility in his extremities, had a custom motorcycle built to accommodate his disability.  He also took up skydiving and had a parachute custom-built  with handles located where he could operate them.  For five years and with more than 125 jumps, Zack Fogle showed incredible drive to live life as fully as possible.

At the 44th annual Lost Prairie Boogie, he was assisted on his first jump.  His parachute did not open and his emergency chute was not set to automatically release.

Skydiving quadriplegic plunges to his death after his parachute fails to open

Mr Fogle didn't deploy his primary or emergency parachutes, and an emergency deployment mechanism that would have released his emergency chute as a fail-safe had not been properly activated prior to the jump.
Skydivers can manually deploy reserve chutes mid-fall, but physical challenges likely prevented Fogle from taking advantage of what is considered a last-ditch but fail-safe practice, said White, a licensed pilot.

He said it also was possible that Fogle experienced spatial disorientation, preventing him from realizing before it was too late how near the earth he was.

'He would never have seen the ground coming; he may not ever have known,'
said White.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

July 4, 2011

For lack of a helmet

NY motorcyclist in helmet protest hits head, dies

A man riding bareheaded on one of about 550 motorcycles in an anti-helmet law rally lost control of his cycle, went over his handlebars, hit his head on the pavement and died, police said Sunday.

The motorcyclist, 55-year-old Philip A. Contos, likely would have survived the accident if he'd been wearing a helmet, state troopers said.

The accident happened Saturday afternoon in Onondaga, a town in central New York near Syracuse.

Contos was driving a 1983 Harley-Davidson on a helmet protest ride organized by the Onondaga chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education, or ABATE, troopers said. The organization states that it encourages the voluntary use of helmets but opposes mandatory helmet laws.

Contos, of Parish, hit his brakes, and his motorcycle fishtailed and went out of control, flipping him over the handlebars, police said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
No other motorcycles were involved in the accident.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

June 4, 2011

Killed on final leg

Couple fulfil life-long dream of visiting every U.S. state… before both being hit by van and killed on final trip

A couple who fulfilled a life-long dream of visiting every U.S. state were both killed after being hit by a minivan on the final leg of their trip.

Keith and Doreen Rodgers had just finished their 50-state quest by visiting Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio.
The couple, who are reportedly English, were about to return to their home in Manchester, Connecticut, when they were hit by a minivan while crossing a road in Liberty Township.

Police say 73-year-old Keith Rodgers died at the scene and 71-year-old Doreen Rodgers died later at St. Elizabeth’s Health Center.

Starr Lutzen, a friend and neighbor of the couple, told the Journal Inquirer: 'They had just finished.
'They were just on their way home - it’s very sad.'

Friends of the couple say they enjoyed seeking out lighthouses and were both involved in the Salvation Army.
The pair had gone on a car journey around America visiting all 50 states and were about to finish their quest on Saturday when tragedy struck.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 PM | Permalink

June 3, 2011

Twin friars die on same day

Julian and Adrian Riester are twins who became Franciscan friars in their twenties, and both, aged 92 died on the same day in the same hospital.

Those who knew the Riesters best say they are not surprised at all.

"If ever there is a confirmation that God favored them, this is it," said their cousin and close friend Michael Riester of Buffalo. "They weren't even separated for 12 hours."

The biological brothers were also religious brothers, committed to the monastic life of Franciscan friars, not as priests but in roles as physical laborers.
They became known as accomplished artisans who expressed their talents as gardeners and woodworkers, turning out tables and cabinets from their workshop in the garage of St. Bonaventure's Franciscan Friary.

Yvonne Peace, former secretary to the university's Franciscan community, remembers them as handymen and "fixers" who repaired all sorts of items brought to them by many on campus.

"They were always busy," she said.


Now they will be buried together Monday in St. Petersburg.

"They had this intimate bond, in which neither was selfish at all," Michael Riester said. "And because they were so in tune to God and to each other, it's not surprising at all."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:25 PM | Permalink

January 20, 2011

Fowl play

Singrai Soren owned fighting cocks, the kind with razor blades attached to their legs for more gruesome and deadly fights. When one of his cocks won a fight, Soren would get £28 and a dead cock to feast on.

But Soren was greedy. After a fight in which his cock, described as a "dangerous rooster'" won, Soren tried to force it back into the ring for another fight. The rooster tried to get out of the ring several times, feeling no doubt entitled to his expected hour break between bouts. But Soren kept forcing him back into the ring until the cock finally attacked and sliced Soren's jugular vein with the razor blades attached to his legs.

Those around the ring only realised what had happened when blood started pouring out of him.

The cock, described as "an unknown rooster with black and red feathers" is still at large.

Six days on, police suspect the prized rooster is being sheltered by a rival trainer keen to put the champion bird back in the ring.

_cock_fight .jpg

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 PM | Permalink

December 7, 2010

Death in a balloon

Two American balloonists Richard Abruzzo, 47, of Albuquerque, and Carol Rymer Davis, 65, of Denver, took off from Bristol in their hot air balloon, part of the 54th Gordon Bennett Gas Ballon Race.

Nine weeks after going missing... U.S. balloonists' bodies are found in gondola floating in the Adriatic

An Italian fishing boat pulled the remains of two American balloonists from the Adriatic Sea this morning, ending a two-month hunt for the pair's bodies in one of ballooning's darkest chapters.

The boat hauled in the balloon gondola with the bodies of the Americans still inside while fishing 11 miles north of Vieste before dawn, said Commander Guido Limongelli of the Vieste port.

Condolences to their families.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

September 27, 2010

Death by Segway

Tycoon who took over Segway firm dies in freak accident after riding one of the machines off a cliff and into a river

The multi-millionaire owner of the Segway company died in a freak accident yesterday when he rode one of the high-tech two-wheel machines off a cliff and into a river.

Former miner Jimi Heselden, 62, plunged into the River Wharfe while riding around his West Yorkshire estate in Boston Spa on a rugged country version of the Segway.

He bought the firm last December and was using one of the machines - which use gyroscopes to remain upright and are controlled by the direction in which the rider leans - to inspect the grounds of his property.

His death comes just a week after he became one of the UK's most generous philanthropists, having given away £10million to a charity foundation he set up in 2008.  He had previously given £13million to the same organisation
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 AM | Permalink

July 28, 2010

Deep sea photographer dies in underwater shoot

 Wes-Skiles-Underwater Photographer

Wes Skiles, 52, a freelance deep-sea photographer, died while filming an underwater shoot near Florida for the National Geographic.

His obituary in the Palm Beach Post

Skiles and other members of a film crew were working around a reef east of the Boynton Inlet Wednesday afternoon when Skiles signaled to his colleagues that he was going to head to the surface to get more film, sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said.

He ascended alone. A few minutes later other members of the group heading for the surface too found him lying on the ocean floor.

His colleagues pulled him onto their boat and attempted to revive him, Barbera said. He was transported to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where he was pronounced dead.

From The National Geographic blog
A photograph by Skiles is the current (August) cover story of National Geographic. Editor in Chief Chris Johns devoted his "Editor's Note" to the photographer in the same issue.

"Wes was a true explorer in every sense and a wonderful spirit," Chris Johns said today. "He set a standard for underwater photography, cinematography and exploration that is unsurpassed. It was an honor to work with him, and he will be deeply missed."

The stunning final images of the veteran deep-sea photographer killed while filming underwater

 Last-Photo Wes Skiles

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:03 PM | Permalink

July 27, 2010

Who asks the bride and groom to pose with guns?

Wedding photographer shot dead after he asked bride and groom to pose with GUNS

A wedding photographer was accidentally shot dead after he asked the happy couple to pose with guns as part of the big day celebrations, Italian police have revealed.

Calogero Scimea, 45, was hit in the head after one of the guns went off.

He died in front of horrified bride Valentina Anitra, 22, and groom Ignazio Licodia, 25, as well as their parents.

Police said the tragedy happened just before the couple, who are teenage sweethearts, set off for their local church at Altofonte near Palermo on the island of Sicily.

Police were today questioning them as well as their relatives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 PM | Permalink

May 8, 2010

Politically-charged suicides in Chicago

"He stood on the tracks and he faced the train as the train was coming toward him." 

He died instantly, killed by the train he rode to work for more than two decades.

That would be Phil Pagano, executive director of  Chicago's commuter train service, who took his own life shortly after an investigation began as to whether he received an unapproved $56,000 bonus.

This is the fourth "political" suicide in Chicago in the last eight months, all powerful men facing investigations.

* On Nov. 16, 2009, Chicago School Board President Michael Scott, 60, shot himself along the Chicago River. He recently had been subpoenaed as part of a federal grand jury investigation of how students were selected for the system's selective-enrollment high schools.

* On Sept. 12, 2009, Chris Kelly, 51, charged in the Rod Blagojevich case, committed suicide by ingesting pills.

* In September 2007, Orlando Jones, 52, godson of former County Board President John Stroger, shot himself on a Michigan beach. He recently had been approached for an interview by FBI agents about a case in Las Vegas.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:46 PM | Permalink

December 27, 2009

Tripping over his own pants, gangster dies

The fatal cost of gangster fashion

A murderous New York gangster tripped over his own baggy trousers last week and fell to his death. Hector Quinones, 44, was in the middle of an apparently drugs-related killing spree when his low-slung trousers fell down and tripped him up. One of his would-be victims fled on to the fire escape of her apartment block; Quinones yanked up his trousers and struggled after her, but no sooner had he reached the fire escape than they fell down again, and he toppled overboard.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:26 AM | Permalink

October 31, 2009

Killed by rampaging elephant

BBC children's TV safari guide killed by charging elephant in Tanzania

A Safari guide who was working on a BBC children's television programme was killed after an elephant charged and trampled over him yesterday.

Anton Turner, 38, was assisting the filming of the CBBC series 'Serious Explorers' which is retracing the footsteps of legendary explorer David Livingstone in Tanzania, Africa.

Mr Turner, a Brit who is a former Army officer and experienced safari ranger, was seriously injured after the elephant attacked him.
Three children who had been picked by the BBC to travel with the party were present during the fatal charge but both were unhurt.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:19 AM | Permalink

September 22, 2009

Black death death

Professor Malcolm Casadaban, a renowned molecular geneticist at the University of Chicago studied the origins of the Black Death until he died quite quickly from an infection linked to the disease, also called the bubonic plague.  He developed intense flu-like symptoms, was admitted to the hospital but died within 12 hours.

New victim of the Black Death: Professor killed by plague bug he studied

Health officials in the city insisted there was no risk to the public but the professor's colleagues, family and friends have been offered antibiotics as a precaution.

'While the death of this individual researcher is terrible and tragic, there is no indication that his illness spread to anyone else,' said a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Public Health.

'There is currently no indication of a threat to public health.'

He was working on a more effective vaccine.  What a loss. His family are stunned and shocked.  Condolences.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2009

Hoisted on his own petard

Man killed by shards of glass after hurling girlfriend through shop window

A man bled to death when he was impaled on a large shard of glass after throwing his girlfriend through a shop window in a street row.

The 30-year-old victim was seen arguing with the woman in the Regent Street area of London's West End shortly after 2am today.

Witnesses told police he hurled the woman against the window of a branch of Banana Republic up to three times.

The woman, also 30, was taken to hospital for treatment to multiple cuts, none of which are thought to be life-threatening.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2009

"She didn't have a chance in hell"

They were so cute  the bears that came to her backyard to feast on the dog food, fruit and yoghurt she left out for them.

A wildlife lover, she paid no attention to the protests of her neighbors, phone calls from the sheriff or his certified letters telling her in no uncertain terms to stop feeding  the bears

Donna Munson, 74, told her friends that "when the time came, she wanted to go out with the bears."

She got her wish.  She was found dead outside her home, being eaten by a bear.

Cabin owner fed bruins for years despite state's pleas.

The night before her death, Munson planned to feed an injured baby bear hard-boiled eggs and yogurt, another former tenant said. And she had planned to swat a large bear that was bothering the baby bear with a broom.

"She didn't have a chance in hell," said Connie Barnes, who lived with Munson for five years and never went outside after dark without a spotlight, her husband and his BB gun.

Munson lived in the cabin, which bordered federal land, with her husband, "Ridgway Jack," until his death about 14 years ago, Barnes said. Jack Munson adopted a baby elk and made their home into an animal sanctuary, even letting a fawn sleep in his bed, Barnes said.

Donna Munson continued caring for animals after her husband's death, leaving a tub of cat food on her picnic table for critters and tossing food in the backyard and out her windows for bears. The elderly woman, who used a walker, bought giant bags of Ol' Roy dog food for the bears and had pallets of grain delivered for elk and deer, Barnes said.

Two women who cleaned Munson's home found her being eaten by a bear Friday, Barnes said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:23 PM | Permalink

July 30, 2009

Motorcycle dealer dies in motorcycle crash on way to motorcycle rally

Motorcycle dealer dies doing what he loves

Bruce Rossmeyer, whose empire of Harley-Davidson dealerships made him the company's largest dealer, was killed in Wyoming in a motorcycle crash, sources confirmed.

Rossmeyer, 66, of Ormond Beach, was traveling with a group of friends on his way to the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota.

Around 11 a.m., Rossmeyer was traveling with a pack of other riders on Wyoming Highway 28, between Lander and Farson. He was the last rider of the group and he was struck by an RV, which strayed into his lane, according to witnesses.

Rossmeyer was on his way to the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, one of the nation's largest biker rallies.

In Sturgis, news of his death shocked the many attendees who have arrived at the rally, said Woody Woodruff, owner of the Buffalo Chip Campground, a Sturgis landmark.

"His death is going to change the entire motorcycle industry," Woodruff said. "You have movers and shakers and Bruce was definitely a mover and shaker. He made things happen. You lose someone like that and it creates a big void."

Rossmeyer is survived by his wife Sandy, five children, and many grandchildren.

Condolences to his family who must be deeply shocked.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:01 PM | Permalink

July 29, 2009

Shopaholic died under her purchases

Shopaholic died under her purchases

The body of an elderly shopaholic was found underneath a pile of clothing and other items after she died of natural causes, an inquest heard.

Joan Cunnane's bungalow was so crammed with purchases it took five visits to the house before she was found.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

July 13, 2009

John Bachar, Rock Climber

John Bachar, Rock Climber, Dies at 51

John Bachar, a rock climber who inspired awe as a daredevil, condescension as an anachronism and eventually respect as a legend, fell to his death Sunday from a rock formation near his home in California. He was 51.

After years of climbing without protection, sustaining his only major injuries in a car wreck, Bachar was confirmed dead by the sheriff of Mono County, Calif., where he lived in the town of Mammoth Lakes.

Bachar soloing near Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2007.

Photo by: Duane Raleigh

Statement by his family
The Bachar family is deeply and profoundly saddened by John’s death. His passion for climbing and respect for the mountain never ceased. He was know to say that if the mountain took him it would be the way he wanted to go. As sad as his untimely death is, we try to take some solace in that. .....

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:32 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2009

Shane flew like a bird

Shane McConkey, R.I.P. - Forever an Eagle  via Book of Joe

Long story — and life — cut unexpectedly short: The iconic ski base jumper (above) died as he lived.

From the Financial Times obit, Daredevil ski base-jumper who flew like a bird

Shane McConkey, the man who found ways to ski off skyscrapers, was able to “slip the surly bonds of earth”, as poet John Magee put it, and enter an exhilarating and giddy world where few mortals could venture.

Having helped pioneer what came to be called ski base-jumping – leaping from mountains or cliffs using a parachute to land safely – he moved on to something even more exotic: wingsuiting. He used a special suit that shaped the body into a human aerofoil with fabric sewn between the legs and under the arms. This enabled him to become a self-powered “birdman” before finally opening a parachute – a technique one observer likened to a “flying squirrel”.

McConkey: ‘It’s so damned fun’

“Wingsuiting blows people away – it blows me away every time I do it,” McConkey said. “There’s no joystick, no bar, no steering wheel – you’re flying your own body. It’s so damned fun. You ski off a cliff, pull your skis off and you’re flying – you’re a bird. You open your wingsuit and you’re off. It’s the greatest feeling ever.”

McConkey’s death at 39, while filming in the Italian Dolomites, exposed an unexpected danger in a sport already fraught with peril. A mid-air problem getting the bindings of both skis to release before being jettisoned meant that vital seconds were lost between the initial launch and the smooth transition into “birdman” mode. After jumping and carrying out a “routine” double back-flip from a 600-metre cliff near the ski resort of Corvara, he was still desperately grappling to release the second ski when he hit the ground, his wingsuit not yet deployed. The unreleased ski would have flipped him upside down and probably sent him into a spin. Had he tried to use his parachute in this position it would have become tangled around the remaining ski and failed to deploy.

After his death one website noted: “There are 42,500 page results for Shane McConkey. Within those pages you won’t find a bad word uttered about him.” One comment posted was: “It feels like Superman died.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink

April 7, 2009

Santa Muerte, the Death Saint

 Santa Muerte

From the AP, Mexico destroys 'Death Saint' revered by criminals

Officials in Nuevo Laredo have destroyed more than 35 statues dedicated to a "Death Saint" popular with drug traffickers.

The statues, most depicting a robe-covered skeleton resembling the Grim Reaper, lined highways and roads in and around the Mexican city on the border with Texas. One of the statues was located at the base of an international bridge linking Mexico and the U.S.
The Death Saint is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, but has become popular among organized crime figures in Mexico.

Time magazine on Santa Muerte: The New God in Town

Now appearing in New York, Houston and Los Angeles: Santa Muerte. The personage is Mexico's idolatrous form of the Grim Reaper: a skeleton — sometimes male, sometimes female — covered in a white, black or red cape, carrying a scythe, or a globe. For decades, thousands in some of Mexico's poorest neighborhoods have prayed to Santa Muerte for life-saving miracles. Or death to enemies. Mexican authorities have linked Santa Muerte's devotees to prostitution, drugs, kidnappings and homicides. The country's Catholic church has deemed Santa Muerte's followers devil-worshiping cultists.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:46 AM | Permalink

January 6, 2009

Catching up on Grave Matters

My apologies for not posing over the holidays and my best wishes to all my readers for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Now catching up on grave matters, the North East Lincolnshire Council bans mourners from laying artificial flowers on graves because of the health and safety risk.

While the $10M lottery ticket Donald Peters bought just hours before he suffered a fatal heart attack and died  stunned his widow who only found she won when she took tickets  that had been pinned to a calendar for two months after his death to the local convenience store before throwing them out.   

"It's just such a shock," Peters, who has three children and two grandchildren, said. "I still don't believe it. In 20 years, we've won two, maybe three dollars - but never more than that."
"There's nothing that I really and truly want," Peters said, adding that she already saved up enough to replace her car. "I have a mobile [home] that I love, so I doubt I'll be moving."

Instead of dwelling on what to buy, Charlotte Peters said her thoughts have been on her husband and how grateful she is she decided not to toss his final gift to her. "I had just never handled the lottery tickets," she said. "I'm still surprised that I bothered to have them checked."

The 2008 Darwin awards are out and so far The Balloon Priest is the people's choice, a double Darwin.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas operated rocket launchers from a cemetery to shoot missles into Israel were destroyed by the IDF.  The small bodies of the children of a Hamas leader, a mentor of suicide bombers, one of the top five decision makers in Hamas  were paraded around the streets of Gaza to incite 'painful' revenge, in a ghoulish display far worse than waving the bloody shirt.

Nizar Rayan, his four wives and 10 of his children were all killed by in an Israeli air strike on his home after he ignored warnings they should go into hiding.

In grisly scenes, mourners held up the bloodied bodies of the children to the cameras in a clear attempt to blacken Israel's name and highlight its brutality.

There's more Hamas propaganda using obviously fake photos as documented in The Breath of the Beast that appears to have gulled PBS and 3 year old videos dupe many in the liberal blogosphere.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 AM | Permalink

September 1, 2008

No one left to toll the bells

Bell-ringer falls to his death after church wedding.   

A bell-ringer plunged 30ft to his death seconds after a bride and groom tied the knot in a romantic church wedding ceremony.

The bride and groom, and their assembled guests were walking out of the church when 80-year-old bell-ringer Jack Sturgeon fell 30ft down a church tower, moments after ringing the bells for the happy occasion.

His devastated wife Beryl, 81, was in church at the time.

After ringing the bells, he is believed to have climbed a second set of stairs to inspect the clock when he suddenly fell at St Mary's Church in Mildenhall, Suffolk, about 2.15pm on Saturday.

Mr Sturgeon, a bell-ringer of 40 years, suffered a suspected heart attack, however it is still unclear if it caused him to slip off the stairs, or whether the fall triggered the condition.

Reverend Hodges said Mr Sturgeon was a '100 per cent reliable' bell-ringer.

'All we can say is that at least he died doing what he loved best in our church, a place he loved.'

She said the newlyweds, Mr Keane and Miss Brown, had also been shattered by the tragedy.

'They're local people and they've been left devastated. 'They'll never ever forget what happened on what should have been the happiest day of their lives.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:04 PM | Permalink

February 18, 2008

Steve Fossett declared dead at 63.

Five months after disappearing while flying over the Nevada desert, Steve Fossett was declared dead by a Chicago court.

Dozens of planes and helicopters spent more than a month searching 20,000 square miles of the western Nevada mountains, one of the most remote and uninhabited regions of the US.
Throughout his life Mr Fosset had set more than 90 aviation records in balloons, fixed-wing aircraft, gliders and airships and 23 sailing records. Some 60 still stand.

On his sixth attempt, in 2002, he became the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon - in one unsuccessful bid he plunged five miles into the sea off Australia.

Three years later made the first solo, non-stop, non-refuelled flight around the globe in the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer.

He also swam the English Channel, completed the Ironman Triathlon and the Iditarod dog sled race and climbed the Matterhorn in Switzerland and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Everest, however, eluded him.

Mr Fossett, who earned his fortune as a financial trader, broke the round-the-world sailing record by six days in 2004 and even set world records for cross-country skiing.

The Telegraph obituary  

Steve Fossett, who has been declared dead aged 63, made his fortune on the Chicago futures exchange and embarked on a dogged campaign to break more world records than any other sportsman in history; he set 116 records in hot air balloons, sailing boats, gliders and powered aircraft, getting into numerous scrapes and surviving several brushes with death.

He was known in Britain for his friendship with Sir Richard Branson, an erstwhile rival balloonist who became a co-sponsor.

Branson once described Fossett as "a loner: half-Forrest Gump, half android" and suggested that he was not so much interested in sport for its own sake as in testing the limits of his own endurance: "If there's an ocean to swim, he'll choose Christmas Day and it must be snowing and, if possible, the only day in the last decade when the channel ices over," Branson observed. "That's Steve for you."

At some point in his thirties Fossett typed out a list of his lifetime sporting goals. These included swimming the English Channel, climbing the highest mountains on six continents, establishing eight world records in sailing, and flying non-stop around the world in a balloon. Once his business was firmly established he set out to tick items off the list. He achieved them all - and more. He became a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Explorers' Club, and in 2002 won the Gold Medal of the Fédération Aeronautique Internationale.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:11 PM | Permalink

February 4, 2008

"He hit the post where the mat had been removed"

David Monk, 46, went to the Alps for a weekend of skiing with some friends.   

But first some drinking when they had the bright idea of sliding down the mountain.  They had the bright idea of removing the foam crash barriers around one of the ski-lift supports to use as a makeshift sled.

They walked the piste, laid down their new sled, and barreled down the mountain, picking up speed until they came to a crashing dead stop against the barrier they had just denuded of its safety protection.

David was killed and his two friends gravely injured.

"He hit the post where the mat had been removed and that was it. It's terrible for his wife and two young kids.

"We tried to help him but the impact was too strong.
He went into the gap where the padding was and hit his head.

He leaves a grieving wife and two teen-age sons.

How sad and useless.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:04 AM | Permalink

January 25, 2008

Suicide bomber trips and falls down stairs

Suicide bomber falls down stairs

A WOULD-be suicide bomber fell down a flight of stairs and blew himself up as he headed out for an attack in Afghanistan, police say.

It was the second such incident in two days, with another man killing himself and three others on Tuesday when his bomb-filled waistcoat exploded as he was putting it on in the southern town of Lashkar Gah.

Yesterday's blast was in a busy market area of the eastern town of Khost, a deputy provincial police chief said.

The would-be attacker tripped as he was leaving a building apparently to target an opening ceremony for a mosque that was expected to be attended by Afghan and international military officials, said Sakhi Mir.

"Coming down the stairs, he fell down and exploded. Two civilian women and a man were wounded,'' Mir said.

Ace writes Dies of Embarrassment and Bomb Detonation, But Mostly Bomb Detonation

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:16 PM | Permalink

January 24, 2008

Suicide bomber trips and falls down stairs

Suicide bomber falls down stairs

A WOULD-be suicide bomber fell down a flight of stairs and blew himself up as he headed out for an attack in Afghanistan, police say.

It was the second such incident in two days, with another man killing himself and three others on Tuesday when his bomb-filled waistcoat exploded as he was putting it on in the southern town of Lashkar Gah.

Yesterday's blast was in a busy market area of the eastern town of Khost, a deputy provincial police chief said.

The would-be attacker tripped as he was leaving a building apparently to target an opening ceremony for a mosque that was expected to be attended by Afghan and international military officials, said Sakhi Mir.

"Coming down the stairs, he fell down and exploded. Two civilian women and a man were wounded,'' Mir said.

Ace writes ; Dies of Embarrassment and Bomb Detonation, But Mostly Bomb Detonation

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 PM | Permalink

January 14, 2008

Public appeal for mourners for Olive Archer

Secret Funeral for 'Eleanor Rigby' pensioner after public appeal for mourners.

There had been fears that no one would come to Olive Archer's funeral.

But yesterday a small chapel was filled with remembrance and fond feelings as the 83-year-old was laid to rest.

Miss Archer, who died on December 20, never married, had no children, and spent her last five years without a single visitor at the Kington St Michael care home in Chippenham, Wiltshire.

Amid concern that her funeral would be like that of the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby, when "nobody came," church minister Reverend Akasha Lonsdale launched an appeal for friends and family that was highlighted in the Daily Mail.

Dozens of friends, relatives and well-wishers came forward and 16 were chosen to be at the Swindon service.

With societies aging and fewer children, I wouldn't be surprised if more and more funeral mourners are paid.

Such is the case in Taiwan where wailers are for hire to mourn the dead.

Re-enacting grief-stricken daughters, among the most emotive elements of a traditional funeral, professional mourners offer themselves for T$2,000 ($60) to T$3,000 per half day of singing, crying and crawling on the ground.

The phenomenon, which appears to date back to ancient Greek times, is not unique to Taiwan, where mourners for hire emerged in the 1970s largely to give funerals the somber atmosphere that shows the appropriate respect to deceased elders.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:40 PM | Permalink

December 6, 2007

"It's super-sad, man"

Peter Davi, an accomplished surfer,  lived for monster waves and died in one off Ghost Trees, a Monterey County surf spot known for its "potent swells and dangerous conditions."

A friend and competitor professional surfer Tyler Smith said

the wave faces were as big as 60 to 70 feet, "almost as big as we've seen out there."

"It's super-sad, man.  He was a gentle giant who surfed for his whole life."

Legendary surfer perishes in huge waves.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

December 5, 2007

Swallowing Secrets

The Italian mob boss was on the run from the police since 1993.

When Daniele Emanuello, tried to flee a police raid on a farmhouse in Sicily where he had been hiding, he was shot and killed.

But not before he swallowed secret notes with names and telephone numbers.

Italy mob boss swallowed secrets before dying.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:18 PM | Permalink

February 22, 2007

Clowns Shot Dead at Circus

What do you make of two clowns shot dead at a circus in Cucuta, Columbia?

The gunman burst into the Circo del Sol de Cali Monday night and shot the clowns in front of an audience of 20 to 50 people, local police chief Jose Humberto Henao told Reuters. One of the clowns was killed instantly and the second died the next day in hospital.
Local reports say the audience of about 20 people, mostly children, thought the shooting was part of the show before realizing both men had been killed.

It wouldn't be the first time. a clown was killed in Cucuta.

Last year, a prominent circus clown, known as Pepe, was also shot dead by a unknown assailant in Cucuta.

I don't think you'll see any more clowns in Cucuta in the near future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 10, 2007

Returning to Earth

From a review by Will Blythe entitled Food for the Soul. of Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison.

Note how he records his family's history before he goes, so the memory is not lost.

In Donald’s opening monologue, a rambling family history for the benefit of his children, recorded by Cynthia, his wife and teenage sweetheart, Donald announces, “It seems I’m to leave the earth early but these things happen to people.” His mind remains clear while his body becomes “desiccated road kill,” as K puts it. Barely able to swallow, he must sniff rather than taste a final meal of barbecued pork ribs. However, Donald doesn’t rage against the dying of the light, nor indulge in the deathbed histrionics of Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilyich. Dying seems to strike him as no more an aberration than birds returning to their roost at dusk. His mortality evokes the sense of a man going home at twilight, of — echoing the book’s lovely title — returning to earth. A luminous, sad calm pervades this novel.
Donald’s dignified death is of a piece with his life (my father, a doctor, once said that in his experience people died as they lived, in character right to the end).
This regal suicide marks only the halfway point of “Returning to Earth.” The novel’s subject now becomes an absence; Donald’s survivors must learn to negotiate the hole left in them by his departure. ... In treating the raggedy contours of grief, Harrison shows no patience with that banality known as “closure.”
“There’s much talk about ‘healing’ these days before the blood is dry on the pavement,” Donald’s brother-in-law, David, complains.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:34 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 6, 2007

He Wanted the Stump Removed and It Killed Him

For three years 47-year-old Canadian Robert Case campaigned to have regional officials remove a tree stump from Lake St. Clair calling it a dangerous hazard. 

Last Friday he and a friend were driving their snowmobile on the ice of the great lake when Robert reached down to tie off a loose strap on the hood.  He didn't see the stump in the snow when he struck it and was killed.

The regional authority said the responsibility over the beds of the Great Lakes was that of the provincial government.

Robert's wife, now a widow after 26 years of marriage, said

"I'm still trying to understand. This is the worst thing in my life. I lost my life.
"We didn't have much but we had each other. I'm so mad at ERCA."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 15, 2006

Ahmet Ertegun, A Fitting Death

I've set up a new category for particularly fitting deaths, people dying while they were doing what they loved. 

Steve Erwin, the Australian conservationist who was fatally pierced by a stingray comes first to mind, so does the Snake king Ali Khan who died from a cobra  bite.

Definitely in that category is Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun who died yesterday following a head injury he got while attending a Rolling Stones concert and 60th birthday party for former president Bill Clinton. He was 83.

From USA Today

By the 1960s, Ertegun was nurturing soul stars such as Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack and Wilson Pickett. He helped usher in the invasion of such British rockers as the Rolling Stones, Cream and Led Zeppelin, and oversaw an American pop explosion, with acts such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Sonny and Cher, and Bette Midler. And the label is now home to such diverse acts as Missy Elliott, James Blunt, Stone Temple Pilots, Jewel, Death Cab for Cutie and Kid Rock.

Ertegun, who was born in Istanbul in 1923 and was the son of a Turkish diplomat, was a moving force in the founding of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1985 in Cleveland. He was himself inducted two years later, and its main exhibition hall is named for him. He never lost his passion for music. He was still chairman of Atlantic Records when he died.

From an interview he gave to Slate

Slate: What do you want for your legacy?

AE: I'd be happy if people said that I did a little bit to raise the dignity and recognition of the greatness of African-American music.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink | TrackBack