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24 Heartbreaking Deaths While Taking Selfies
The invention, and refinement, of smartphones' rear, and front cameras, have turned millions of smartphone owners into amateur photographers. More so, it has led to an added dimension of photography - selfies.
While self-portraits aren't a new phenomenon in the photography world, this feature, the fronting camera, has amplified this type of photography. In fact, digital cameras haven't come close to the high rate of selfies taken on smartphones.
The utilisation of the fronting camera of smartphones has led to an influx of amateur-to-expert selfie-ers, that is, selfie photographers.
However, the selfie craze brought about by this feature of a smartphone has catapulted into the world's limelight a new form of death - selfie-kills.
Selfie deaths aren't officially recognised as a cause of death. The deaths are usually attributed to another cause of death that's officially recognised such as accidental death, or falling.
Careful investigation of selfie-related deaths reveals three things that might have led to the otherwise preventable deaths.
- The selfie-ers' obsession with capturing own photos making them oblivious to their surrounding, for instance, unaware of an oncoming train as their attention is fixed on the activity of taking 'perfect' selfies.
- The need to capture stunning photos foregoes the dangerous spot, or setting , the photos are taken e.g. on a high-rise building, or whilst driving.
- The thrill of taking a dazzling selfie in a life-threatening setting, or with a fatal thing e.g. on top of skyscraper buildings, or with a live grenade.
Can we blame social network sites for the high rate of selfie-related deaths witnessed in the 21st century? Not really! While social medias, on a large scale, have contributed to the increased deaths related to capturing perfect selfies, the can't be wholly blamed. An individual's desire to receive a high viewership, likes, and comments, to photos taken of themselves, can be largely attributed to this phenomenon.
Below are selfie-related deaths that were reported between 2014-2021.
1. Fall From the 27th Floor
October 2018, Panama, Portugal
A 44-year old teacher plunged from a balcony of the 27th floor of an apartment leading to her death.
Sandra Manuela Da Costa Macedo, who had rented a room at the building, spent several minutes taking selfies before sitting on the balcony's railing for a final selfie. The last selfie proved fatal as she lost her balance and fell to her death.
Before she fell from the building's floor, she had been warned by construction workers from an opposite block to be careful. However, she disregarded their concerns.
The horrible death filmed by nearby construction workers shows the mother of two children falling from the 27th floor while holding a selfie stick.
2. Drowned in a Lake
March 2015, Kahi Taluka, India
Seven youths drowned in Lake Mangul in Kahi Taluka when the boat they were in capsized.
The group of youths consisted of ten young boys in their late adolescence, and early twenties, who had gone for a picnic near the lake. Seven of them got on a boat to shoot a group selfie whilst on the lake.
The boat overturned when they crowded on one side to take some selfies. The three young men who had remained on the land shouted for help when they saw the boat capsizing.
A crowd gathered to save the drowning youths. Unfortunately, poor lighting made it difficult for the swimmers to rescue the drowning youths who were struggling to stay afloat.
Their bodies were recovered the morning of the following day.
3. Business 85 Road Crash
April 2014, Guilford County, N.C., U.S.
A 32-year-old woman slammed onto an oncoming recycling truck on a North Carolina highway, a few seconds after updating her Facebook status.
Courtney Ann Sanford, driving a Toyota Corolla, crossed the road's median and hit the oncoming truck which deviated from the road, hitting a tree. Her car caught fire after veering off the road and landing in a ditch.
She was driving the car at 45mph (72km/hr) before slamming onto the truck.
Investigators found out Sanford died a few seconds after posting on her Facebook's status wall: 'The happy song makes me HAPPY! ' in reference to the hit song, 'Happy' by Pharrell William.
They also discovered that she had taken the selfie and posted it on Facebook along with the text, 'The happy song makes me HAPPY,' while driving.
She died instantly at the scene.
4. Romanian Teen Bursts Into Flame
May 2015, Lasi, Rome
An 18-year-old girl, Ann Ursu, and her 17-year-old friend, were electrocuted on the roof of a train while taking a selfie.
Ann Ursu, together with her friend, had gone to a train station in the town of Lasi to capture some selfies which she intended to post on her Facebook.
They got on the top of a stationary train and laid on it. While attempting to capture a 'perfect' selfie at a certain angle, Ursu lifted one of her legs bringing her in contact with an electrical field surrounding the overhead cables. Her body burst into flames when her clothes caught fire resulting from 27,000 volts that were discharged to her body. Her friend was thrown off the roof of the carriage.
A passerby who witnessed the horrific incident rushed to the roof of the carriage the young girls were on to put off the fire. After diminishing the fire, he called an emergency service number.
Both girls were airlifted to a hospital, but Ursu died shortly because fifty percent of her body was covered with burns.
5. Mauled to Death by a Bear
May 2018, Odisha, India
A man was killed by a bear when he tried to take a selfie alongside it.
Prabhu Bhatara had stopped the truck he was driving to relieve himself in a forest in the eastern state of Odisha.
The man saw an injured bear and thought, why not take a selfie alongside the beast. He neared the creature for a selfie. Instead of getting a good selfie shot, the animal attacked him.
He had been warned not to approach the creature, but he ignored the locals' concern.
A film that was taken of the incident shows the man struggling to free himself from the animal's grip. A man and a stray dog could be seen trying to scare off the wild animal.
He died on the spot.
6. Death by a Live Grenade
January 2015, Russia
Two Russian soldiers posed for a selfie while holding a live grenade. Unfortunately, as they didn't expect it, the grenade exploded. Both soldiers were killed by its impact. Their selfie survived to tell the tale of their tragic deaths.
7. Death by Gun Shot
March 2016, Washington, U.S.
The problem with posing for a selfie with a gun pointed at your face is that you can accidentally shoot yourself when you press the trigger.
A 43-year-old man, whose name was withheld, shot himself in the face; not realizing one bullet had remained in the gun.
He was cautious by unloading the bullets before taking the selfies and loading the bullets after the photo session. The last selfie proved fatal when he didn't carefully inspect the gun before taking the last tragic selfie.
He was with his girlfriend who witnessed the horrific death.
8. Crushed by Train
May 2019, Hayana, India
Three teenagers were hit by a train and died immediately after having attended a wedding at Panipat City situated in the northern state of Hayana.
Including a fourth teenager, the four teenagers approached a railway track to take some selfies.
They heard the sound of a train approaching, forcing them to jump on a second track. They were unaware another train was approaching the second track they had jumped onto.
The fourth teenager was lucky to escape the impending death when he jumped on an opposite track that was devoid of an oncoming train.
9. Fall From a Dam
October 2019, Tamil Mardi, India
A newly-wed bride, V. Nivedha, 20, and her three family members, drowned at a dam while taking selfies. The first to slip was the youngest member, Santosha, 14. This caused others, Kanniga, 20, Sneha, 22 and V. Nivedha to fall into the water.
Nivedha's husband, G. Perumalsamy, 25, narrowly escaped the impeding death, and managed to save his younger sister, Yuvurani Perumalsamy, 15.
The drowned bodies were recovered on the same day.
10. Airstrip Incident
March 2017, Chihuahua, Mexico
Two female teenagers, Nitzia Mendoza Corral, 18, and Clarissa Morquecho Miranda, 17, died immediately when they were hit by one of the wings of a light aircraft that was landing on an airstrip in Chihuahua.
On the afternoon of that fateful day, the girls left a racehorse event that had come to an end to take selfies on the back of a pickup truck near an airstrip in Chihuahua.
Owing to the loud noise from the racehorse event, and glued on posing for selfies, the young girls didn't hear the noise of the plane as it landed.
They had been warned by some people to get off the truck, but they ignored the warnings.
11. Shot by Police
June 2015, Punjab Province, Pakistan
Farhan, 15, was taking selfies while pointing a gun at his friend, Fahad, 14, when they were shot by a station house officer of People's Colony in Faisalabad city, Punjab Province.
They were rushed to a district hospital in the province, but Farhan died that night due to excessive bleeding.
The senior police officer and his four colleagues were arrested, and a murder case against them opened.
During an inquiry, the officer stated they mistook the young boys for robbers, and the toy gun they were holding, for a real pistol.
Farhan intended to post the selfies he captured on Facebook.
12. Drowned in a Well
November 2019, Pattabiram, Chennai, India
A young woman taking selfies fell into a well, and drowned.
T. Mercy Steffy, 24, and her fiancé, were visiting a farm near Kandigai village when she decided to take selfies at the well located in the farm.
She climbed the well's stairs that were built on one side of the well, and sat on the edge of the stairs. While taking selfies, she lost her balance, and fell into the well.
Her fiancé also fell into the well as he tried to save her from falling.
He shouted for help, and soon, a farmer came to his aid.
Unfortunately, the farmer couldn't rescue Mercy as she wasn't visible on the surface of the water.
Her body was retrieved by the fire and rescue personnel who were alerted of the incident.
13. Fall Into a Gorge
August 2016, Mandoshi, Thane, India
A female lawyer, 27, fell into a gorge as the boulders she's was sitting on gave way to her weight owing to the loose mud beneath them.
Her husband was unsuccessful in gripping her hand to prevent her from falling.
With the assistance of the people who were nearby, he brought her wife back to the road. She was rushed to a hospital at Chakan as she'd sustained severe head injury. Afterwards, she was moved to a private hospital. Several hours later, she was declared dead.
The couple had gone to Bhimashankar to offer prayers in a temple. On their way back, they stopped at Mandoshi ghat section near Bhimarshankar.
Some picnickers were taking pictures of the scenery which enticed them to take some of their own. They sat on boulders acting as a barrier to the 100-feet gorge below before the young woman lost her balance, and fell.
14. Electrocution on a Train
March 18, 2014, Andújar, Spain
A 21-year-old man died from electric shock when he touched a high voltage wire.
The young man, and his friends, climbed on the top of a parked train at Andùjar railway station to capture a selfie. He, alongside his friends, thought the overhead wire wasn't electrified. In essence, it's active - in use. As a result, an electric charge of 3,500 volts passed through his body. He died at the scene while one of his friends, Alto Guadalquivir, who had survived the electric shock, was rushed to a local hospital in a critical condition.
15. Fall From a Railway Bridge
April 22, 2014, Krasnogvardeyaky, Russia
Xenia Ignatyeva, 17, fell from a railway bridge in Krasnogvardeyaky, and died shortly afterwards before police arrived.
Xenia had climbed the 30 feet high bridge to take a selfie. Unfortunately, she lost her balance and fell from one of the sides of the bridge. Frantically, she grabbed the high voltage wires to save herself from plunging to the concrete below. She was electrocuted before she fell on the ground when 1,500 volts of electric charge were discharged to her body.
Her friend, Pal Oksana Zhankova, 17, who had remained on the ground, was found by police crouched beside the dead body of her friend; paralysed by shock.
Note: An article by International Business Times (IB) has discredited this story as a hoax. According to the digital global news publication, Angela Nikolau, known as Xenia Ignatyeva, is currently alive going by her social media account, VK. She is known to take selfies in dangerous places such as on top of buildings.
16. Stamped to Death by an Elephant
February 2021, Gudhyari, Raigarh, Chatttisgarh, India
A 21 year-old man was crushed to death by an elephant when he tried to take a selfie with it.
The young man, Manohar Patel, alongside his three friends, drew closer to the animal while taking selfies with the elephant in the background of their captured pictures.
All of a sudden, the elephant, which forest officials were attempting to chase away into the forest, charged towards the selfie-ers.
While his three friends managed to escape from the elephant's fury, Patel wasn't lucky. The animal caught up with him and tramped him to death.
The local residents had gathered in a large number to witness the jumbo being forced to retreat to the Sarangarh forest range.
17. Shot Himself to Death
February 2021, Houston, Texas, USA
A 19 year-old man died from a severe bullet wound while taking a selfie in a bedroom of an apartment he was staying at.
Holding a gun, the young man took a selfie when he accidentally pressed the trigger. A bullet pierced through his throat resulting to his immediate death.
18. Fall from an Apartment
November 2016, Russia
A 12 year-old girl fell from the 17th floor of an apartment while attempting to capture a 'perfect' selfie.
The young girl, Oksana B, had told her mother she was going for a walk only to instead climb over the 17th floor balcony of an apartment where her family was living.
She sent the selfie she had captured to her best friend on the Russian social media site, Vkontakte.
Oksana had sent her friend a note remarking how she appreciated their friendship, and how great she was, before sending her the photo she had taken.
Police believe Oksana lost balance while sitting on the balcony railing, and fell to her death.
When her friend had received the photo, she noticed her Oksana had taken the photo in a risky spot. Immediately, she attempted to call her but to no avail. She sent Oksana's mother the photo.
Sadly, her attempt to save her friend from the possibility of falling was met with the realisation Oksana had fallen, and died on the spot. A passer-by had noticed Oksana's body, and alerted the police.
19. Stamped to Death by an Elephant
September 2021, Zimbabwe
A Zimbabwean man was stamped to death by an elephant as he took selfies with elephants in the background of his photos.
The man noticed the elephants that had escaped from a conservation area in central Zimbabwe, and attempted to capture several selfies with the elephants when one of them charged at him.
He was stabbed by the elephant and dragged several metres before he was tramped to death.
A second person injured in the incident was rushed to Kwekwe General Hospital.
The elephant was shot dead by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks).
20. Crashed to Death by an Elephant
October 2021, Mohammadi, Lakhimpur Kheri, Utah Pradesh, India
A college student was trampled to death by an elephant when he attempted to take a selfie with a herd of elephants that was passing through Mohammadi range of forests.
The young man was in the company of his two friends, Ankit and Guarav.
In a report, Guarav stated that he, and Ankit, stayed at a far distance from the heard while their friend, Pranjal Kumar, got to close to the herd to take a selfie.
However, an elephant, possibly thinking the young man posed a threat to two calves that were among the herd, advanced towards him, wrapped him in its trunk, threw him on the ground, and stamped him.
His two friends, witnessing the horrific incident, ran away from the scene in fear.
Pranjal was rushed to a hospital but died while being treated for the severe injuries he had sustained.
21. Tromped to Death by an Elephant
July 2017, Bennerghatta, Bannerughatta, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
A 28 year-old man was tramped to death by an elephant while attempting to take a selfie with an elephant at Bennerghatta Biological Park on a Tuesday.
Tuesday is a holiday for the park when Abhilash V., and his friends, on their bike, sneaked in the park in the evening.
Abhilash, and one of his friends, penetrated deeper into the park to explore while his two other friends stayed back to drink liquor.
The young man, and his friend, spotted an elephant named Sundar. His friend stood at a distance from the elephant while Abhilash took selfies with it.
Suddenly, Sundar pulled Abhilash using its trunk, and tromped him. His friend rushed to the other two, and our of fear, ran away from the scene.
They informed residents who were staying at the park quarters of the incident.
A mahout alerted forest officials after having arrived at the spot at a half past seven in the evening of the same day.
A case was opened against the youths, the charge being criminal trespassing.
22. Crashed to Death by a Train
May 2017, Alwal, Secunderabad, India
A man died while his friend lost a hand when they were hit by a train.
Sampatha Kumar who arrived at Secunderabad to attend a marriage ceremony, headed towards the Alwal Railway Station to receive his friends.
Kumar and his friend, Sravan, decided to take a selfie, or two, of a train that was a few metres behind them before it reached the railway station.
Unluckily, before they knew it, the train had neared closer. Both were hit by the train. Kumar was crashed to death while his friend who had survived lost one of his hands.
23. Electrocuted on top of a Train
April 2022, Chandrapura, Madhya Pradesh
A 16 year-old boy was electrocuted to death when he touched an overhead high tension electrical cable.
The young boy, in the company of his friend, Ashraf, climbed on the top of a stationary train engine at Chatarpur Railway Station, in the morning of a Thursday.
Attempting to take a selfie with a hand touching high voltage electrical line resulted in current flowing through his body. He died on the spot from electrical shock.
24. Killed by Electric Shock
November 2015, Nahur, Mumbai, India
A 14 year-old boy was electrocuted when he tried to take a selfie on the top of a stationary train wagon at Nahur Railway Station.
The boy, Sahil C. Eshwarkar, climbed atop the stationary train truck to take a selfie with his newly-gifted phone.
While attempting to take a selfie, his body came into contact with 25,000 volts of the overhead electrical cables.
He was rushed to Rajawadi Hospital but died on admission as eighty percent of his body was covered with burns.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Alianess Benny Njuguna