Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ironic Deaths, Part 1

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Dr William Hewson (1739-1774)

About:

English surgeon, pioneering anatomist and physiologist who has sometimes been referred to as the "father of haematology".

Cause of death:

Whilst dissecting a decomposing corpse, he cut his thumb and died of blood poisoning.

By the way:

In 1998, workmen restoring the London home of Benjamin Franklin dug up the remains of six children and four adults hidden below the home. Franklin supporters pointed out that Hewson lived there for 2 years and that the bones were likely those of cadavers dissected for anatomical research.
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James Bruce (1730-1794)

About:

Scottish traveler and travel writer who spent more than a dozen years in North Africa and Ethiopia, where he traced the origins of the Blue Nile.

Cause of death:

Died from falling down the stairs in his home.
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Elisha Mitchell (1793 – 1857)

About:

American educator, geologist and Presbyterian minister. His geological studies led to the identification of North Carolina's Mount Mitchell as the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. He also named the Mitchell Falls, a 25-foot (7.6 m) waterfall located on the slope of Mount Mitchell. Although Mitchell named the falls after himself in 1835, Mt Mitchell was named in his honour posthumously when it was established that his belief that it was the highest mountain in the eastern US was proved correct,

Cause of death:

When Mitchell’s measurements had been challenged by a former student, he returned to the mountain to verify his data. He lost his footing and fell to his death in Mitchell Falls (appropriate name in this instance), the falls he had himself named 22 years earlier.

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Lady Mary Heath (1896 – 1939)


About:

Irish aviator and first woman to fly solo from South Africa to England. She was also the first woman to hold a commercial flying licence in Britain, she set records for altitude in a small plane and later a Shorts seaplane, and was the first woman to parachute from an aeroplane (landing in the middle of a football match). 

Cause of death:

Aged 42, she died following a fall inside a double-decker tram., having hit her head on the driver's controller box.

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Charles Drew (1904-1950)


About:

American physician, surgeon, and medical researcher. Drew researched in the field of blood transfusions, developing improved techniques for blood storage, and applied his expert knowledge to developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II. This allowed medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces.

As the most prominent African-American in the field, Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, and resigned his position with American Red Cross, which maintained the policy until 1950.

Cause of death:

Drew died of injuries received in a car crash, having suffered a nearly severed leg, massive chest injuries, a broken neck, brain damage, and complete blockage of the blood flow to his heart. Drew's injuries were so severe and his loss of blood so great that he could not be saved.

By the way:

Despite a popular myth to the contrary, once repeated on an episode of the hit TV series M*A*S*H, Drew's death was not the result of his having been refused a blood transfusion because of his skin color. This myth spread very quickly since during his time it was very common for blacks to be refused treatment because there weren't enough "Negro beds" available or the nearest hospital only serviced whites.


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