Continuing a look at ironic and surprising, sometimes humorous, ways that people have died.
Gladys Elton and Harry Meadows:
In the 1960’s, Gladys and Harry were residents of the Haslemere Home for the Elderly at Great Yarmouth, England.
Gladys was a bit of a live wire and in September 1960 thought that she would bring a bit of cheer to the place. Notwithstanding that she was then aged 81, she performed a striptease.
Unfortunately her performance caused one elderly male resident to die as a result of cardiac arrest. Five other residents had to be treated for shock.
Harry didn’t take part in the striptease, but the following year, in 1961, Harry who at the time was 87 years old, thought it would be funny if he dressed up as the Grim Reaper. He duly did so and then from outside the Home, peered through the windows complete with a scythe in hand.
Harry outdid Gladys. Three residents died of shock at seeing the Grim Reaper outside their window!
The Home was subsequently closed.
John Horrocks (1818 – 1846), English pastoralist and explorer, was one of the first settlers in the Clare Valley of South Australia where, in 1840, he established the village of Penwortham.
Horrocks died by an animal, but not by a crocodile, shark or poisonous snake. He died by camel, an animal he had been seeking to introduce to Australia.
Horrocks’s camel shifted its weight causing the pack it was carrying to catch Horrocks’ shotgun, which he was loading at the time. The shotgun discharged, taking off some of his fingers and injuring his face. The expedition was abandoned and the party returned to Horrocks's home at Penwortham, where he died of his wounds.
Btw: On Horrocks's order, the camel, which had previously attacked other animals and humans, was shot dead.
Arrichion, also called Arrachion, of Phigalia, was a wrestler who lived in the sixth century BC. He won Olympic victories in 572 and 568 BC. In 564 BC he reached the finals for the third time. At the end of a close-fought match, he was held by his opponent in an iron stranglehold. He could not make any move. On that moment his trainer shouted, according to the story, “What a fine funeral if you do not submit at Olympia”. The prospect of an honourable death prompted Arrichion to use a temporary weakening of his opponent’s hold to dislocate his foot with a kick of his right leg. To make this manoeuvre more effective, he casted his body to the left. Because of the unbearable pain, the opponent made the sign of submission to the umpires.
During this manoeuvre of Arrichion, however, the opponent still held Arrichion’s neck in a stranglehold. Because of Arrichion’s sudden move, his neck broke, more or less like the neck of someone who is hung. Death was immediate, caused by the broken neck and not by suffocation, as Pausanias says. Before a man dies of suffocation he is unconscious for a while.
Although he was dead, Arrichion and not his opponent was proclaimed victor, because his opponent had submitted. Thus Arrichion represents the athletic ideal of ‘victory or death’.
A victor statue of Arrhichion was set up at Phigalia; what is believed to be the same statue is now displayed in the museum at Olympia. It is one of the oldest dated Olympic victor statues.
Btw, the above reminds me of the following story:
Two wrestlers an American and a Russian were the finalists in the Olympic wrestling event.
The American coach gave instructions to his star wrestler: "Beware of the Russian and his famous hold - the pretzel. No one has ever got out of that hold!"
The match begins and the Russian finally gets an advantage on the American, putting him in the dreaded pretzel hold.
The spectators start to get up to leave. The coach can't bear to look.
Suddenly there is a blood curdling scream and the Russian goes flying across the canvas, and the American wrestler feebly crawls over and pins him for the title.
Later the American coach asked, "How did you get out of that hold?"
The wrestler responds, "Well I knew I was dead meat when he got me in that hold. I opened my eyes and through the blur I could see these big pink testicles.
So I stretched my neck with all my might and I bit down on those babies just as hard as I could.
It's amazing how much strength you can come up with when you bite your own balls!"