The First Person to Die… The Most Notorious First Deaths We Could Find


…in a self-driving car


According to the truck driver, Brown was watching a Harry Potter movie on the screen

Canton, Ohio resident Joshua Brown was the ultimate Tesla fanatic—and paid the ultimate price. Brown, a former Navy SEAL, posted hours of video of himself driving his Model S on YouTube in Autopilot mode, including one that showed it avoiding an accident.

Autopilot is still very much in beta. Perhaps because of its limitations, Joshua also became its first victim. Truck driver Frank Baressi was making a left turn when Brown’s Model S plowed through the middle of the trailer and crashed into a telephone pole down the road. “He went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him,” Baressi was quoted as saying. (Source 1 | Source 2)


…on the electric chair


“The man never suffered a bit of pain,” said Dr. Fell

The electric chair was invented to be a more humane form of capital punishment, but its first use was positively shocking. William Kemmler, convicted of hacking his wife to death with an ax, was the first man to meet his fate by electricity. On Aug 6, 1890, Kimmler put on a suit and tie and calmly strode into the electrocution chamber and allowed himself to be strapped in. “Well, I wish everybody good luck,” he said.

Warden Charles F. Durston ordered the switch thrown, and 1,000 volts coursed through Kemmler’s body for 17 seconds. Although there was the stench of burned flesh, the doctors in attendance quickly realized Kemmler wasn’t dead, and the switch was thrown a second time at double the voltage. Kemmler’s eyes began to bleed, and his body caught fire. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. (Source 1 | Source 2)


…on a hoverboard


Nawaf, right, from a selfie

A “swegway” (also known as a hoverboard) is a Segway without handles. Whatever you call it, these electric skateboard-like devices are illegal on public streets in Britain and are believed to be highly dangerous. In early December 2015, Nawaf Al-Tuwayan, a 15-year-old who lived in London, used one to make a trip to the store to get some milk for his mother. Witnesses say he looked unsteady on the device and fell in the middle of the road, only to be hit by a double decker bus and dragged 200 yards. His was the first known death of its sort in England. (In October 2015, a 6-year-old was killed while riding a hoverboard in the UAE). (Source 1 | Source 2)

4 a meteorite


A bus driver named V. Kamaraj is unlucky enough to be the first, and only, person to be killed by a falling meteorite. On Feb. 6, 2016, the space rock fell in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. It killed Kamaraj and injured three other people, leaving a 4-foot hole in the ground. NASA says his demise is the only death by meteorite in recorded history. (Source | Photo)


…in a powered airplane


In spite of the death, the Army awarded them the contract

Orville and Wilbur Wright, aka the Wright Brothers, are forever associated with the first airplane flights in modern times. However, a lesser known fact is that Orville was responsible for the first passenger death. Thomas Selfridge was an officer in the US Army Signal Corps assigned to its new Aeronautical Division, which was investigating air travel for military use. On September 17, 1908, Selfridge was the passenger in an airplane piloted by Orville Wright as part of a test. The propeller split and the plane went into a nosedive and crashed. Orville was severely injured but recovered; Selfridge fractured his skull in the accident and died several hours later. (Source)


…in an automobile


Amateur scientist Mary Ward was the first automobile passenger to die on a ride on August 31, 1869.

Mary was a true pioneer in an era when women were not considered intelligent enough for the sciences. She wrote many books on astronomy and microscopes, but her promising life was cut short when she went for a ride on a steam-powered car built by a family friend. She was thrown from the vehicle when it rounded a curve and crushed by one of its wheels. In 1869, Bridget Driscoll of London became the first pedestrian fatality. As she was crossing the street, she froze at the sight of an automobile (it was giving demonstration rides) and was unable to move out of the way in time before tragedy struck.
(Source 1 | Source 2)


…in outer space


The Russians beat the U.S. with not only the first satellite but also with the first and only deaths in space. Soyuz 11 was the first successful trip to the first space station, Salyut 1, launched by the Soviets in 1971. The three-person crew, Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev were able to spend 22 days on board, a record for the time. However, upon re-entry, their cabin had accidentally depressurized, killing all three instantly. They were discovered lifeless with blood coming out of their noses when the capsule splashed down on June 30, 1971. (On April 24, 1967, Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was killed during re-entry on the Soyuz 1, one of the earliest rockets, but he died on impact with the Earth.) (Source 1 | Source 2 | Via)


…by legal euthanasia


Euthanasia, or assisted suicide, has long been controversial and is still illegal in many places. The first legally sanctioned euthanasia was in the Northern Territory of Australia, due to the passage of the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act of 1995. The first person to use it was Bob Dent, who suffered from prostate cancer and took his life on September 22, 1996, with the help of Dr. Philip Nitschke. Three other people followed, but public outrage was so strong, the central government nullified the law a year later. (Source 1 | Source 2)


…in the Revolutionary War


Crispus Attucks was the son of Prince Yonger, an African slave and Nancy Attucks, a Native American (but it’s unclear if he was a slave or a free man). On March 5, 1770, Attucks was eating in a Boston pub when a mounting quarrel between British soldiers and Americans began to get ugly. Although the events leading up to his death are unclear—some say he picked up a stick and rallied Bostonians to confront British troops on King Street—Crispus was one of five shot by the British in an incident that became known as the Boston Massacre. Attackus’ death spurred calls for the Revolution, and he became the first American martyr.


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