1st Deaths

On June 19, 2014 by Tim Newman

1st Deaths - cyborg

Today I bring you a macabre list of people who were the first to die in specific ways. Depressing? Yes. But hopefully we’ll unearth some interesting nuggets amongst these blackened sheets of morbidity.

1st Person To Die In An Automobile Accident

Mary Ward 1869

Ist Deaths - Automobile Car - Mary Ward Ireland

Mary Ward was an Irish scientist, which was an incredibly rare hobby for a lady back in those days. Ward was particularly interested in astronomy and insects, loving both the telescope and the microscope dearly. She became the first person in the world to die in an automobile accident when she fell under the wheels of an experimental steam car built by her cousins. She was a passenger in the vehicle but was thrown from it on a sharp corner, she found herself under the wheels and died almost instantly from a broken neck.

1st Person To Die In An Automobile Accident In The Americas

Henry H. Bliss 1899

1st Deaths - Car - America - Henry H Bliss

Bliss, a real estate business man, was exiting a streetcar (tram) in New York City in September 1899 when an electric powered taxi hit him and crushed his head and chest. He died the next morning. The taxi car’s driver – Arthur Smith – was arrested for manslaughter but eventually let free as it was deemed to be an accident.

1st Person Killed By Tiger In The UK

Hanna Twynnoy 1703

1st Deaths - Tiger UK - Malmesbury - Hannah Twynnoy

This next tragic occurrence occurred in Malmesbury in 1703. Malmesbury is considered by the author to be the most heavy metal town in England for many reasons, this is one. Twynnoy was a barmaid at the White Lion pub, Malmesbury at the time of her demise. A circus was in town and she had taken to goading the animals. One day the menagerie’s tiger got fed up of being goaded by her and mauled her right there and then. This is what her commemorative plaque once said (now lost or stolen):

To the memory of Hannah Twynnoy. She was a servant of the White Lion Inn where there was an exhibition of wild beasts, and amongst the rest a very fierce tiger which she imprudently took pleasure in teasing, not withstanding the repeated remonstrance of its keeper. One day whilst amusing herself with this dangerous diversion the enraged animal by an extraordinary effort drew out the staple, sprang towards the unhappy girl, caught hold of her gown and tore her to pieces.

1st Aviation Death

Thomas Selfridge 1908

1st Deaths - Aviation Thomas Selfridge

Aviation has a long and glorious history of killing people in their prime. This list of deathly achievements began in 1908 when Thomas Selfridge, a passenger in a craft piloted by Orville Wright crashed.

The aircraft, which was named the Wright Flier, was doing circuits of Fort Mayer, 150ft in the air. On the fifth rotation a propeller broke and started vibrations which caused a guy rope to split. This set up a nose dive which Orville couldn’t recover from. Here’s Wright’s description of the event:

On the fourth round, everything seemingly working much better and smoother than any former flight, I started on a larger circuit with less abrupt turns. It was on the very first slow turn that the trouble began. … A hurried glance behind revealed nothing wrong, but I decided to shut off the power and descend as soon as the machine could be faced in a direction where a landing could be made. This decision was hardly reached, in fact I suppose it was not over two or three seconds from the time the first taps were heard, until two big thumps, which gave the machine a terrible shaking, showed that something had broken. … The machine suddenly turned to the right and I immediately shut off the power. Quick as a flash, the machine turned down in front and started straight for the ground. Our course for 50 feet was within a very few degrees of the perpendicular. Lt. Selfridge up to this time had not uttered a word, though he took a hasty glance behind when the propeller broke and turned once or twice to look into my face, evidently to see what I thought of the situation. But when the machine turned head first for the ground, he exclaimed ‘Oh! Oh!’ in an almost inaudible voice.

Selfridge cracked his skull and received neurosurgery for his injuries. He died in hospital that evening.

1st (And Only) Deaths In Space

Georgi Dobrovolski, Viktor Patsayev, Vladislav Volkov 1971

1st Deaths - die in space - Russia

Thankfully, and rather incredibly, the three named above are the only people to have ever died in space i.e. above 100 km up. They were the crew of Soyuz 11 and whilst undocking from the space station Salyut 1, following a three week stay, it all went 100% wrong. A cabin vent valve malfunctioned and opened inappropriately. They died of decompression.

There is now a monument in the deep, deep scrub land of Kazakhstan where the deceased crew touched down:

1st Deaths - die in space - Russia memorial kazakhstan

So there’s the first few in the list of inaugural deaths, I’ll probably keep adding to this as I think of ideas. So please visit again…

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