Top Twenty Inventors Killed by Their Inventions

There’s something ingrained in humans that cause us to take dangerous risks and try things that might change the world. Over the course of civilization, thousands upon thousands of inventions succeeded beyond their creator’s wildest dream. But some were epic fails. Here’s a look at the top twenty inventors who were killed by their own inventions.

20. Thomas Andrews was the chief naval architect for the R.M.S. Titanic and it was his honor to accompany the ship on its maiden voyage. Andrews was aware of the Titanic’s vulnerability in ice-laden waters and originally called for the Titanic to be double-hulled and equipped with forty-six lifeboats, instead of the twenty it actually carried. He was overruled due to cost constraints. When the Titanic struck the iceberg on April 15, 1912, Andrews heroically helped many people into the lifeboats. He was last seen in the first-class smoking lounge, weeping. His body was never recovered.

19. William Bullock invented the first modern printing press. While installing a machine for the Philadelphia Public Ledger, Bullock tried to kick a belt onto a pulley and got his leg crushed in the moving mechanism. He quickly developed gangrene and his leg needed amputating. During his surgery on April 12, 1867, Bullock died of complications.

18. Francis Edgar Stanley invented the photographic dry plate which he sold to George Eastman of Eastman-Kodak fame. With the profits, he founded the Stanley Motor Carriage Company and developed a line of steam-powered automobiles called Stanley Steemers. On July 13, 1918, Francis Stanley was testing one of his Steemers and swerved to miss some farm animals. He plowed into a wood pile and died.

17. Jean-Francoise Pilatre de Rozier was a French chemistry and physics teacher as well as being the true father of aviation. He made the first hot air balloon flight in 1783. He was also the first to experiment with hydrogen as a propellant, testing it by taking a mouthful and blowing it across an open flame. After losing his hair and eyebrows, he dismissed hydrogen as being too volatile — something the makers of the Hindenburg would later confirm. On July 15, 1785, de Rozier attempted to cross the English Channel in his balloon. It crashed, killing de Rozier and his passenger.

16. Louis Slotin was an American nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhatten Project. After the war, Slotin continued to experiment with plutonium and accidently set off a fission reaction which released a hard burst of radiation. Realizing what he’d done, Slotin heroically covered the material with his body while the others made a run for the hills. He died on May 30, 1946, two weeks after the exposure.

15. Karel Soucek was a Czechoslovakian daredevil and inventor. He built a specially-designed, shock-proof barrel and repeatedly flowed over Niagara Falls. To top this feat, Soucek invented a new capsule which was dropped from the roof of the Houston Astrodome on January 20, 1985. It missed its target, which was a small water container, and Soucek was killed on impact. World-renown stuntman, Evel Knievel, tried to talk Soucek out of it, saying “It was the most dangerous thing I’ve ever seen.”

14. Sylvester H. Roper invented the world’s first motorcycle. He called it a velocipede and it was actually a converted bicycle powered by a steam engine. On June 01, 1896, Roper was testing the machine on a bicycle racing track and was lapping the pedal-powered two-wheelers at over forty mph. Suddenly, he wiped out and died. The autopsy showed the cause of death to be a heart attack, but it’s not known if the attack caused the crash or if the crash caused the attack. He was seventy-two.

13. Horace Lawson Hunley invented the submarine. His first prototype trapped seven sailors underwater and killed them all. Hunley went back to the drawing board and came up with a new and improved sub, aptly named the H.L. Hunley, which he skippered himself. On October 15, 1863, Hunley was testing the Hunley off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, when it failed to surface and again killed the crew — including Hunley himself.

12. Aurel Vlaicu was a Romanian inventor and test pilot of his own line of aircraft, called the Vlaicu WR I, II, and III. He achieved many notable firsts such as the highest, longest, and fastest flights. On Friday, September 13, 1913, Vlaicu’s luck ran out when he attempted the highest altitude flight ever — crossing the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains. The cause of the crash was never determined.

11. Valerian Abakovsky invented the Aerocar, also known as the Aerowagon, which was a steam-powered, propeller-driven rail car intended to whisk railway executives quickly across the vast lands of Siberia. On July 24, 1921, the twenty-five-year-old Abakovsky was whirling a group of twenty-two big-shots from Tula to Moscow when he approached a curve at over eighty mph. His Aerocar went airborne and killed six, including the inventor.

10. Marie Curie was a Polish chemist/physicist who pioneered research into radioactivity and won the Nobel Prize — twice. Besides proposing the theory of radiation and discovering two elements, she is credited with inventing radiography or X-rays. Curie died on July 14, 1934, in a French sanatorium from aplastic anemia due to long-term exposure to radiation, probably from her habit of carrying test-tubes of plutonium in her pockets.

9. James Fuller “Jim” Fixx didn’t exactly invent running but he popularized it through his mega-bestselling book Complete Book Of Running. Fixx took up the sport after a lifetime of stress and bad habits. He became a world celebrity on fitness and healthy living. On the morning of July 20, 1984, he was out for his daily running fix and fell dead in his tracks on Route 15 in Hardwick, Vermont. His official cause of death was a fulminant heart attack. The autopsy showed his heart arteries were 70% blocked in the right anterior descending, 80% blocked in the left anterior descending, and 95% blocked in the circumflex. Runner Jim Fixx was fifty-two.

8. Max Valier was an Austrian rocket scientist who invented solid and liquid fueled missiles. Given his success with flight, Valier thought it’d be cool to make a rocket-propelled car. It worked, too, and he got it up to 250 mph. Trying to get even better, Valier experimented with alcohol as a combustible. That got away on him and blew up on his workbench, killing Valier and burning his workshop down.

7. Alexander Bogdanov was a Russian physician, writer, politician, and inventor of sorts. He was a major player in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and ended up in jail. He talked his way out of death row and back into medicine where he became obsessed with blood. Bogdanov founded the Institute For Haematology and was convinced that blood transfusion was the ticket to the fountain of youth. To back up his beliefs, he used himself as a crash-test dummy and transfused blood from a patient suffering malaria and tuberculosis into his own system. He died two days later on April 07, 1928, but the patient slowly got better. It seems that the blood types were incompatible — something little known in the day.

6. Otto Lilienthal was known as The Glider King. A German pioneer in aviation, Lilienthal made over 2,000 glider flights and is credited with perfecting the gull-wing design and set the long-held record of soaring to 1820 feet. On August 10, 1896, Lilienthal experimented with “shifting weight” in a glider at fifty feet. It lost lift, stalled, and he augered into the ground, breaking his neck.

5. Li Si died in 208 BC at age seventy-two of The Five Pains. That was a form of torture or “punishments” involving tattooing the face, cutting off the nose, cutting off the feet, castration, and finally death by exposure. Li Si was Prime Minister during China’s Qin Dynasty and fell out of favor with the Emperor. It should be noted Li Si invented The Five Pains.

4. Henry Smolinski held a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Northrup Institute Of Technology. Old Hank got the idea that a flying car was necessary so he bastardized the boxed-wing rear section of a Cessna 337 Skymaster and welded it onto the top of a ’71 Ford Pinto. He actually got the thing to fly. On September 11, 1973, Hank took his buddy, Harold Blake, up for a spin in the Pinto. At around three hundred feet, one of the wings snapped and the pony-car bucked them off to a fiery death.

3. Abu Nasr Ismail ibn Hammad a-Jawhari died around 1008 AD at Nishapur which is in today’s Iraq. He was a Muslim cleric, scholar, and a bit of an inventor. He was fascinated with flight so he built a pair of feather-covered, wooden wings and strapped them to his back and arms. To impress the Iman, Mr. a-Jawhari jumped off the roof of the mosque hoping they’d work. They didn’t, but to commemorate the first known attempt at human flight, they built a mosaic mural on the wall of the mosque. It’s actually quite pretty.

2. Wan-Hu may or may not have been real. Some say he was apocryphal, or doubtful, but one thing’s for sure — he’s a legend. Wan-Hu was reported to be a 16th-century Chinese official who tried to shoot himself to the moon by attaching forty-seven rockets to a chair and lighting them all at once. They say there was this huge bang and, when the smoke cleared, Wan-Hu and his chair were nowhere to be found. Today, there’s a crater on the moon named after Wan-Hu… and I’m not making this up.

1. Franz Reichelt was real — a real stupid sonofabitch if there ever was one. He was known as The Flying Tailor and is credited with inventing the coat parachute. To prove it worked, he conned the keepers of the Eifel Tower to let him demonstrate. On February 04, 1912, Franz held a major press venue so they could witness his inaugural jump. He leaped from the first deck and gravity took over. It was captured on film and today you can watch this moron splat himself on YouTube.

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Delivery Driver Leaves Package Exactly Where Customer Requested

A delivery driver did exactly as requested by leaving a parcel under a doormat.

But whether the customer’s instructions needed to be carried out exactly to the letter is now up for debate.

The package ended up being way too big for its hiding spot — meaning it wasn’t hidden from view from potential thieves at all.

Reddit user ajl5991 posted images of the customer’s request and where the box was left to picture sharing community Imgur on Friday:

Click on the “next” button above to see where the parcel was left.

The images were captioned, “I’m just here to serve the customer.”

It’s unclear exactly where the photographs were taken, or even if the screenshot of the cell phone corresponds to the picture of the doormat.

But the post has since gone viral with more than 900,000 views.

Presuming the package isn’t stolen, at least the homeowner won’t have trouble retrieving it — unlike this person in England — whose parcel ended up being delivered on top of their roof.

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Court Finds Coverage when Insurance Company Denied Claim for Pre-Existing Damage

Last month, when presenting at the Windstorm Insurance Network’s 17th Annual Conference in Orlando, my panel discussed the Anatomy of an Insurance Policy. This basic course examined residential and commercial properties, and in both sessions we had lively discussions about some fundamentals. The members of WIND made the discussion much more captivating for a discussion getting down to brass tacks of policies.1

Part of our seminar discussed all-risk insurance policies versus named peril polices. Under the all-risk policy for a dwelling, the provision we discussed required direct physical damage to the property to be covered.. Of course, all-risk doesn’t mean that every single type of direct physical loss is going to be paid, because the insurance policy has devoted an entire portion of the policy to limiting and excluding coverage. The burden of proof of “the job” of the policyholder under this type of policy is to show its insurance company that a fortuitous…


Deadly Storms Hit From the South East and Midwest to the East Coast

For the last few days major storm systems have wreaked havoc from Indiana and Michigan to Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and as far south as Florida and Louisiana. The storms brought almost every kind of weather imaginable, from tornados, high winds and heavy rains to significant snow fall, blistering cold and significant flooding. Reports indicate that seven people were killed across the Country and many more were injured by these storms.1

The Midwest:

States in the Midwest were hit by brutal cold, strong winds and heavy snow. In Illinois, Michigan and Indiana the storms closed schools and airports and dropped from twelve (12) to eighteen (18) inches of snow.2

The Gulf Coast & South-East:

Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida were hit by approximately twenty (20) to twenty-four (24) tornados. “On Tuesday, one of the hardest-hit areas along the Gulf Coast was a recreational vehicle park in the town of Convent, in southern Louisiana. RVs were tossed about and lay on…


Why Hotels Put a Chocolate On Your Pillow

Have you ever wondered why hotels put a chocolate on your pillow?

Cool History Facts: Chocolate On PillowHave you ever been lucky enough to stay in a really nice hotel? If so, you were likely nicely surprised by a wrapped mint, chocolate, or chocolate mint, cleanly set on the pillow upon your arrival. It’s a nice, small gesture, and it had to start somewhere. In fact, it didn’t start all that long ago.

Sometime in the early 1950s, actor Cary Grant was staying at the luxurious Mayfair Hotel in downtown St. Louis. He was a frequent guest and booked the penthouse suite, and he had a woman who was meeting him there. (At the time, Grant was married to this third wife, actress Betsy Drake.) As the story goes, the woman arrived at the suite before Grant did, and found that he had laid a trail of chocolates. It started in the sitting room, ran into the bedroom, across the bed, and onto the pillow, sort of a seductive “Hansel and Gretel” breadcrumb trail.” (A letter was also left on the bed, although its contents, along with the identity of the woman, and if the chocolates, uh, worked, remain undisclosed.)

The Mayfair’s manager heard about the chocolate gambit, likely because a hotel staffer had to procure the chocolates and lay them out. The manager liked the idea so much that he made a chocolate on the pillow upon arrival one of the hotel’s many standard amenities.

Hundreds of hotels adopted the gesture, although the Mayfair discontinued the act a few years back. But when the hotel was sold and became the Magnolia Hotel St. Louis last August, management restored the tradition, with chocolates from St. Louis chocolatier Bissinger’s.

Every room gets a chocolate on the pillow, particularly the 18th floor’s “Cary Grant Suite.”

For more cool history facts, check out Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader History’s Lists and Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into History Again.

The article above is reprinted from Portable Press, the publisher of Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers. Looking for more amazing facts and good laughs? Check out the latest Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader® titles at


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Attorney Work Product and Hiding the Coverage Opinion – A Refresher on Attorney-Client Privilege

Recently, while going through the insurance company claim file on two cases, I saw references to a coverage opinion letter from a lawyer (or referencing emails shared between the adjuster and an attorney about coverage). These communications occurred in the claims handling process before the claim was denied and before the policyholder hired me as their lawyer. At about that point in the claim file there was much redacting where the lawyer defending the case had blacked out (or blanked out) anything having to do with communications between the coverage lawyer and the insurance company. I sent (pre motion to compel) letters to opposing counsel kindly asking them to reconsider their redaction of the documents, and withdraw their objection to my discovery request. The response I got was one of complete disdain that I had the audacity to make such a request. This is because many insurance defense lawyers think that anything done by a lawyer at any point during the claims handling process…


Florida House bill 79 – Umpires and Appraisers

Less than an hour ago, the Florida House just passed House Bill 79 by a vote of 92-22. The Senate Bill has not been voted on yet and there are still some possible changes that may occur. The full House bill as passed today can be found here.

I have copied below some important sections of the bill. However, please go to the full link for the entire bill.



785 626.9961 Short title.—This part may be referred to as the

786 “Property Insurance Appraisal Umpire Law.”

787 626.9962 Legislative findings.—The Legislature finds it

788 necessary to regulate persons that hold themselves out to the

789 public as qualified to provide services as property insurance

790 appraisal umpires in order to protect the public safety and

791 welfare and to avoid economic injury to the residents of this

792 state. This part applies only to property insurance appraisal

793 umpires as defined in this part.

794 626.9963 Part…


An Insurance Agent’s Duties in Iowa

Since I’ve got some cases in Iowa and the Hawks are doing so well in basketball, I thought I would blog about a recent case involving the standards for an insurance agent’s duties in Iowa.1

Owners of a company used a broker to obtain insurance coverage. One company they looked at was State Central Insurance who obtained a quote from Mount Vernon Insurance Company. Coverage was bound on the building (a vacant nursing home) with a policy that had an exclusion for damage due to sprinkler leakage. An owner of the company received a copy of the policy, read it and had no objection to the terms of coverage.

A loss control survey was done and it was recommended that the sprinkler system main drain should be tested regularly. There were additional letters between the insurance company and the broker discussing the sprinkler system, with State Central stating that the sprinklers could be ignored since the structure was vacant and a reply letter denying the same. State Central said…


You’ve Never Seen Yo-Yo Like This, Yo

This yo-yo is hardcore.

Watch Evan Nagao perform at the Pacific Northwest Regional Yo-Yo Championship in Seattle Saturday. This guy turns a kid’s toy into an art form.

Nagao took first place in the 1A division, and he gets points for fashion, too.

Check out his full routine above.

H/T What’s Trending

Also on HuffPost:

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Mending the Hold – an Oldie But a Goodie, Part 1: The Concept

As attorneys representing policyholders, we often hear some pretty interesting stories about claim denials—many of which make little to no sense. Sometimes, after a lawsuit has been filed, the insurance company puts forth new arguments why the claim should be denied as a post hoc justification. To the experienced claims handling professional, often the later denial (the one often put forth after an attorney got involved for the insurance company) is a more legitimate basis than the one communicated during the claims handling process.

The gut reaction to this is that it’s not right or fair. That notion finds support in a Supreme Court case from 1877, Ohio & Mississippi Company v. McCarthy.1 This case involved the shipment of sixteen train cars of cattle from St. Louis to Philadelphia. While delivering cattle, several of the cattle incurred injuries as a result of certain conduct of the railroad which also caused delays. During the trial, the Defendant offered evidence…