Coroners Share The Strangest Cause Of Death They've Ever Encountered.
DISCLAIMER: This article describes dead bodies.
I don't know about you but dead bodies give me the heeby jeebies. Besides the fact I'm terrified that they'll suddenly come to life, there's something very strange about seeing something that's supposed to move just lie there cold on a table. People in the medical profession feel differently thought; to them, a dead body is just another part of their work day. Until it's not...
Coroners of Reddit were asked: "What is the strangest cause of death you've ever encountered?" These are some of the best answers.
Motorcycle accident with rider having no helmet. Had no head. Wandering the ditches to find the head at the butt-crack of dawn. Not finding it, still walking and looking, and you start seeing things in that odd dusk. Thinking you might trip over a detached head in the ditch.
Other responders eventually figure it out: head was pushed down into the body.
Noped right out of that career.
Had a man tie cement blocks smaller ones to his feet and push himself off the side of his pool in the deep end causing him to drown. His family had went on vacation on Friday which is the day he did it and they came back Saturday of the next week to find him still in there. That was by far one of my worst pick ups from the ME!
I had an elderly man had a 40-year-old son with the mental capacity of a small child. The old man died of natural causes and the 40-year-old son ended up dying of starvation or dehydration. He couldn't figure out how to make food. He had tried to eat a bag of flour. He was found on the ground by (next to) his father playing with his toy cars.
Saddest death I've experienced.
Man fell into a septic tank and died because of suffocation, rather than drowning. Found after 3 days. That was one autopsy my staff let me skip, as I started to retch the moment I opened the door to the autopsy suite, despite wearing an airtight mask.
We did have one interesting homicide that involved a very old woman being pushed by her much younger mentally ill boyfriend. I'm talking like 40 years younger. The reason it was interesting is because he left her body where she fell for WEEKS and some animals carried off some of the bones. We had to wear "spacesuits" and walk around picking them up from various nooks and crannies at the crime scene.
That was the most disgusting state of decomposition I ever saw a body in: it wasn't totally skeletonized or mummified or dessicated or anything, but the decay was so advanced that we couldn't make out any superficial details at all. I'll never forget that disgusting dark green-grey color as long as I live, and I'm NOT easily disgusted after the experiences I had there.
An electrician who committed suicide by some home-made device rigged to a CRT TV, basically terminals rigged to a belt-type apparatus round his chest. Electrocuted instantly, but the current still flowed so there was a pronounced "cooking" effect with some disintegration, both on-site and once the remains reached us. No info on how the body was recovered safely. The worst thing was that his grand-daughter found him when she let herself in to see him for lunch unexpectedly.
I worked a scene where a dude was flayed to death. No weapon on scene, but defensive wounds on arms, hands, etc. Blood everywhere, the ceiling, walls, and all over this little one-room migrant workers tarpaper shack.
We cleared the scene and left wondering what happened...
The ME later told us the weapon used was a gym sock full of 1.5" drywall screws. About a half-pound of spiky, angry metal in a white athletic sock...
I went to pick up an elderly person in their home, the officer doing the house check found them standing at their kitchen sink dead from a heart attack. They died standing up and their skin was hanging from their arms holding on to the sink. It scared the officer and he refused to re-enter the house.
The short of it: Man died from endometrial cancer. Man had a transplant prior, woman who gave transplant had metastatic cancer that had spread to said organ unknowingly. Man survived transplant but cancer cells from the transplanted organ populated and he ending up dying from HER cancer.
So there was this man, who had this illness where his muscles, bones or joints fused or something, can't remember properly. So his body became quite rigid and eventually he was taken to a hospice where they took excellent care of him.
Except, his bed malfunctioned. Like in a cartoon both the top en lower half the bed could not stop moving towards each other. He couldn't get out, call for help, so the bed literally broke him.
This was several years ago and I really do not remember the details. Just that it was the weirdest way of dying I ever saw.
I am a security officer at a local hospital with a major psych ward. I had to put a body of a psych patient in the morgue because he ripped off his genitals, gouged out his eyeballs and swallowed them thus suffocating himself. He did this all with in five feet of the RN station and not making a sound.
I had a guy decapitate himself using a table saw.
I once responded to a shooting death in a car. Gang hit as he was stopped at a set of lights. As a firefighter I don't go to a whole lot of murders but I'd seen a few. There's normally a fair bit of blood. Not this time. This guy got shot about 5 or 6 time right in the middle of the chest. Every shot spot on, hitting the heart. His heart never beat after the first bullet (in all likelihood). There wasn't a single drop of blood I'm that car. Thought that was pretty weird.
Worked at a funeral home. They had a.....customer, I guess, who committed suicide with a reciprocal saw. Like a jig saw. Through her forehead. It was very clear that it wasn't easy, as she tried more than once before it was done. They had to turn the saw on to remove it.
I volunteered at a hospital where a psych patient killed himself by drowning himself in a bed pan he used to collect drips from the air conditioner and piss.
I autopsied a perfectly fit looking young man in his 20s once who died of a heart attack after someone played a prank on him. Turns out he had almost complete occlusion of the left anterior descending coronary artery ("the widowmaker"), and was a smoker. This is sometimes a result of genetics that are not possible to predict.
This guy got depressed over whatever and decided to fill a backpack with bricks and jump off a bridge. He did this in the late fall and, obviously, sank to the bottom. What he did not account for was that, over time, his body would continue to fill with gas due to the bacteria slowly eating away at his insides to the point that, even with a backpack full of bricks, he would still float to the top. He finally resurfaced in early June. The guy was unrecognizable, essentially looked like a bloated blue frog. Smelled awful.
I did a summer internship at my state coroners office as a way to pad my resume for medical school. There is one death that I will always remember, but not because it was especially disgusting.
There was a male body brought in with four bullet holes in the anterior side, all of which were in the upper chest. Additionally, there were no exit holes on the posterior side and no evidence of bullet removal. However, after performing an autopsy for over an hour, the coroner could only find two bullets.
After a lot more work, he ended up finding one bullet in the stomach and one in the small intestine. It turns out that these two bullets had actually punctured and entered the esophagus, and as he was dying his body swallowed and began to digest the two bullets. The coroner said he had actually seen this before, but that it was incredibly uncommon.
That day I got a cool story and learned to never assume things at face value.
Few years ago we excavated a mass grave of villagers killed summarily by the Nazis. Gruesome and sad, but pretty standard stuff, piles of bones, clothes and personal items in a swamp of "body pudding" (sometimes known as Cadaver Goo). At the very edge of the pile we found another body, that of a 13-year-old girl, killed with a single shot to the forehead. A bit weird, since most of those executions were done through a shot to the back of the head, but the real question appeared after the body came back from the anthro lab:
The girl died sometime between 1970 and 1980. Someone executed a teenager and buried her into a secret mass grave...
The weirdest case I had, without names, town, or anything being revealed, this person shot themselves with a 20 gauge shotgun to the head in their bedroom, lived through it, and managed to walk to the garage to reload a shell and finish the job. The way it went down, they shouldn't have made it past the first shell. We would have investigated it as a murder had the blood not shown a clear trail of what happened. It was a mess from the bedroom to the garage where the person had clearly shot themselves and walked in the garage to finish the job.
Cause of death was gunshot to the chest, and ruled a homicide... except he had been shot 3 decades earlier. A small piece of shrapnel from the bullet wasn't removed when he was shot, but he was completely fine for 30 years. Then it found its way into his circulatory system close to his heart, made its way into the man's right ventricle and caused a heart attack. IIRC the man who had shot him was sent to prison for a few years and released, but was subsequently arrested and charged with murder.
Patient was being transported via stretcher on elevator. The transporter pushed the stretcher onto the dark elevator just as the elevator was being called up to another floor. The elevator pulled the patient into the shaft leaving her hanging upside down. Lower half of her body crushed to her chest. Patient was screaming, her family witnessed the whole episode. Fire dept came and cut her out. Went to surgery and died. Surgeon said her organs were "mush".
There was an Otis repair crew working on the elevator because it was stuck. They didn't put up signs that said it was out of order. Transporter was new employee and didn't question why the lights inside elevator off. OSHA now has mandated that metal bar is across the doors and big yellow signs to indicate out of order. Employees who witnessed it resigned from PTSD. I still work at the hospital and some people will ask am I on the elevator that killed that lady. It's been almost 20 years since it happened.
Work in a nursing home/rehab. Guy essentially died from pooping. He pushed too hard, blood pressure dropped and that was it for him.
So this lady is walking her dog down the sidewalk once upon a time. The dog manages to get loose from its leash and bolts into the street. Right underneath a stopped garbage truck. The lady, trying to save her pupper, ducks under the truck. At that moment, the garbage truck driver, oblivious to the what's happening backs up and over the poor women's head.
There was nothing left above the shoulders. The dog was fine, though.
Some of this material has been edited for clarity.
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