Daredevils who lost their lives during insane stunts

Human beings have been craving adrenaline since the first caveman dared the first lion to "catch me if you can." That's not to say that we all crave danger, but it's so much a part of our DNA that if we don't chase those thrills ourselves, we enjoy watching other people do it. If we didn't, YouTube probably wouldn't exist. But the awful truth about daredevils and their envelope-pushing stunts is that one day, their luck will run out, tragedy will strike, and loved ones will have to pay the price. Here are a few notorious examples of stunts that went horribly wrong.

Valery Rozov died jumping from a 22,000-foot peak

Russian base jumper Valery Rozov was trying to conquer the "Seven Summits," which is basically the base jumping version of visiting every continent, only in the most dangerous way possible. Rozov hoped to jump from the highest peaks in each of the seven continents while wearing a wing-suit. In case you're not familiar, a wing-suit basically turns a person into a giant, human bat that can top speeds of 200 miles per hour. According to IBT, Rozov had already jumped from the Ulvetanna in the Antarctic and in 2009 had even leaped into an active volcano.

Rozov held the world record for highest base jump in a wing-suit — that was for jumping from the Changtse peak in Tibet, which is north of Mount Everest. So the 22,000-foot peak he was jumping from at the time of his death was actually a little bit lower than his 23,688-foot record, but that didn't make it any safer. The 52-year-old daredevil died when he crashed into a cliff after leaping from the top of Mount Ama-Dablam in eastern Nepal. He left behind a wife and two sons.

Wing-suits are dangerous even if you're experienced

In another tragic base jumping accident, well-known climber Dean Potter and his friend Graham Hunt died in Yosemite National Park when they jumped from Taft Point wearing wing-suits and crashed into a rocky ridgeline that Yosemite's chief of staff described as "spiny like a stegosaurus." This accident highlights the sad fact that experience doesn't necessarily protect you — Potter had made the exact same jump at least 20 times, and Hunt was probably similarly experienced.

Dean Potter was well-known in the extreme sports community and particularly well-known in Yosemite, where climbing is a popular sport. He was the first person to "free climb" (using only hands and feet, although safety ropes can also be used) three-quarters of the way up Half Dome, the granite peak that is roughly 4,800 feet above Yosemite Valley. 

Potter was also controversial — he'd been kicked out of Yosemite a couple of times for such crimes as sleeping in the meadow and breaking the stems off a head of broccoli in the park store. More telling, he'd lost a couple of sponsorships because of his increasingly risky stunts, such as climbing the Delicate Arch in the Arches National Park, and base jumping, which was just a little too dangerous for the popular brand Clif Bar to stomach.

Other climbers expressed regret at Potter's death, but the words of fellow climber Doug Robinson may have summed it up best: "We're very sad … but not very surprised. He was pushing the envelope all his life."

Kyle Lee Stocking went swinging

You know how television shows about daredevils always have that standard "don't try this at home" disclaimer? If only YouTube had the same requirement for their daredevil videos. Although seriously, just because some caption says "don't try this at home" doesn't mean people aren't going to try dangerous things at home.

According to ABC News, in March 2013, Kyle Lee Stocking attempted to duplicate a feat he saw on YouTube. If the stunt had gone as planned, the 22-year-old would have swung beneath the 110-foot Corona arch near Moab, Utah, after jumping off the top. But he misjudged the length of the rope he was using, and instead of swinging he struck the ground. The impact killed him.

The tragedy highlighted a growing problem of people trying to imitate stunts they see on YouTube, from swallowing cinnamon (which can give you a collapsed lung) to jumping off moving vehicles.

While YouTube claims to prohibit content that encourages dangerous behavior, the video that inspired the fatal stunt is alive and well as of this writing. And still no "don't try this at home" warning, either.

Lim Ba had a heart attack while cooking himself in a steamer

The human capacity for dreaming up bizarre stunts is perhaps only surpassed by the public's desire to watch people do bizarre stunts, which is a pretty lethal combo when you think about it. In October 2017, Malaysian magician Lim Ba attempted a "human steam" stunt, which basically involved him sitting inside a giant wok with some rice and sweet corn. If the stunt went well, Lim would come out unscathed with some ready-to-eat grains, presumably to pass out to onlookers or something.

Lim was a veteran of this particular stunt — he'd been performing it for more than a decade, and his record was 75 minutes (MSN notes that's actually longer than it takes to cook chicken and rice in a steamer). But he was also approaching 70, was being treated for high blood pressure, and had recently had a heart bypass. So really, he wasn't in peak physical condition at the time of his death.

Lim started knocking on the inside of the wok about 30 minutes into the performance. When onlookers removed the cover they found him unconscious, and by the time medical personnel arrived he was dead. The cause of death was a heart attack, though police also noted Lim had second-degree burns.

Anastasiya Maximova died under her own horse

Cossack horsemanship is performance art with roots in mounted warfare. Watching Cossack riders, it's hard not to be impressed. Cossacks do stunts at high speeds, which might include feats like standing in pyramid formation on the backs of their mounts, sword and spear tricks, jumping out of the saddle and then springing back into it again — the sort of craziness that seems not only impossible but also sort of ill-advised.

Cossacks are incredibly skilled riders, but if this article has taught you anything it should be this: even great skill can't protect you from freak accidents. According to the New York Daily News, in 2015 24-year-old Cossack rider Anastasiya Maximova was performing at an acrobatic show in the Russian region of Krasnodar when her foot got caught in the stirrup. She fell and was dragged around the arena by her panicked horse, which bolted into a seating area as the other performers tried desperately to corral it. Maximova was freed from the stirrup but she died of her injuries before she could make it to the hospital.

Tragedies that happen during stunts are no less tragic than any other fatal accident, but there is something to be said for dying while doing the thing you love. "It is a naughty, beautiful and bright sport," Maximova once said about Cossack riding. "It gives me shivers."

It worked from a plane, but not from this bridge

In yet another base jumping tragedy, 73-year-old James E. Hickey of Claremont, California, jumped off the Perrine Memorial Bridge (pictured) in Twin Falls, Idaho, and died. First, he set his parachute on fire. According to USA Today, Hickey was attempting to recreate a stunt he'd already successfully performed, only the last time he'd jumped from an airplane instead of from a 500-foot bridge.

If the stunt had gone as planned, Hickey would have set his first parachute on fire, then disconnected it, then deployed a second chute in order to float to safety. But something went wrong, and the second chute opened too late. A video showed a fireball engulfing both chute and jumper. According to the coroner's report, Hickey died of blunt-force trauma.

Hickey was an experienced base jumper who had completed more than 1,000 jumps over a 10-year period, thus proving once again that experience can't save you when the base jumping grim reaper finally decides your time is up.

Sailendra Nath Roy used his hair for everything

Some people are known for their super-strong arms. Some people are known for their super-strong legs. Sailendra Nath Roy was known for his super-strong hair. According to the BBC, throughout his pseudo-career as a daredevil (he also worked as a driver for the police department) he did a lot of crazy stunts with his hair, including pulling a narrow gauge train with his ponytail, which he claimed to keep strong with mustard oil and incredible feats of hair strength.

Roy held the Guinness record for farthest distance on a zipline using hair, so he wasn't new to the hairy circuit. But the 48-year-old might not have been in the best physical shape, and when something went wrong during his final performance, his heart was unable to withstand the stress.

Spectators said he stopped moving down the zipline after about 300 feet. He struggled for close to 30 minutes, shouting for help, but there were no emergency personnel on hand and no one could understand what he was saying. At the end of the half hour, he became still. When paramedics finally cut him down he'd already died … of a "massive heart attack."

Officials said Roy didn't have permission to do the stunt, and if he'd had a professional support team on hand the outcome might have been different. Instead, the stunt he promised his wife would be his last really did end up being his last, but for all the wrong reasons.

Hiking alone can be rewarding, and also really dangerous

It's the social media era, and that doesn't just mean we all spend way too much time obsessing over the lives of people we haven't seen in 25 years — it also means it's really hard to stand out from the crowd because almost nothing hasn't been done before, and almost everything that has been done before has been posted somewhere on social media for the whole world to see.

Kudos to social media star GiGi Wu, who actually found a gimmick no one else was using: a bikini. She said she dressed appropriately for her hikes but would change her clothes at the top, so that's less crazy than the alternative, but still pretty wacky. She loved hiking alone and felt anyone should be able to do it, according to the Washington Post. Of course, that comes with safety concerns, and she even turned back from some hikes that she felt were unsafe for soloing. 

The self-proclaimed "bikini climber" posted a lot of really impressive images of herself standing in treacherous places wearing clothing that's really only fit for a very warm (and flat) beach, but then something terrible happened. According to the New York Post, Wu fell 65 feet into a ravine while on a solo hike on Yushan Mountain in Central Taiwan. She was evidently lucid enough to make a phone call after falling, though she said she couldn't move because of a leg injury. But rescuers weren't able to reach her until at least a day later, and by then she'd frozen to death.

Audrey Mestre smashed a record but couldn't get back to the surface

Free diving is the diving version of free climbing — it's done without equipment (more or less) and it's about a million times more dangerous than the version that's done with equipment. According to ABC News, roughly 2 percent of the free diving population dies every year — that's 100 deaths per 5,000 divers.

In 2002, free diving champion Audrey Mestre was trying to break the "no limits" dive world record of 531.5 feet. Everything went well until she was on her way back up. According to the Miami Herald, her cause of death was equipment failure — in no-limits free diving, an air tank fills a balloon, which helps the diver get quickly back to the surface. Mestre's air tank didn't have enough air in it to inflate the balloon.

The International Association of Free Divers gave Mestre a posthumous honor for the practice dive she'd completed a few days earlier — 558 feet, which was just 3 feet short of the dive that killed her. After her death her husband, Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras, swore off free diving, except for a single dive he said would be in her honor. In 2013 he changed his mind and said he'd come back for one more record-breaking attempt and then retire … and then in 2017 he said the same thing. And that's enough to give you some insight into the minds of extreme sportsmen — even knowing the risks, it's hard to give up the thing you love.

Wing walking is so, so dangerous

Extreme sports are always pretty terrifying and sort of insane — otherwise they wouldn't be called "extreme" — but wing walking has got to be right up there, surpassing "sort of insane" into the territory of "completely and utterly insane."

In 2011, wing walker Todd Green was performing at Selfridge Air Show in Michigan when he fell 150 feet to his death. According to CBS Detroit, Green was trying to transfer in midair from a plane to the skid of a helicopter when he slipped.

Green's stunt was one of the biggest attractions of the show, and a lot of spectators initially believed the fall was part of the act — which seems to be a common misconception when daredevils die during performances. It wasn't until the show's announcers told the crowd something had gone wrong that they finally learned the truth.

Green was the son of Hall of Fame aerial stunt performer Eddie "The Grip" Green and was following in his dad's footsteps. He had more than 25 years of experience performing aerial stunts.

Safety nets are super important

The human cannonball is one of the world's most time-honored acts of putting oneself in great mortal peril for the amusement of others. According to Gizmodo, the first human cannonball took to the air in 1872, launching both himself and the careers of a long, distinguished line of people who ultimately died in the line of duty. Broken limbs, broken backs, and broken heads are fairly common injuries for human cannonballs, a fact that didn't stop Matt Cranch from signing up for a job with Scott May's Daredevil Stunt Show.

In 2011, Cranch was about to perform as a human cannonball for the first time, in front of a crowd of hundreds of people in Kent, England. He was shot 40 feet into the air, but his safety net collapsed on landing. He hit head first and died from his injuries. An inquest later found that the quick release mechanism on the safety net hadn't been set properly.

Cranch was a former mechanic who had been on the stunt team for about a month at the time of his death and had practiced the stunt a total of five times. During the court case against the show's organizer, prosecutors argued that the quick release mechanism wasn't even necessary for the stunt — a standard net set up prior to the incident would have done the job without risk of failure. The organizer received a £100,000 fine and a one-year "community order" for his part in Cranch's death.

Owen Hart and the bad safety harness

Everyone knows professional wrestling is staged, but that doesn't mean it isn't ever dangerous. In May 1999, 33-year-old pro-wrestler Owen Hart fell 85 feet from the rafters of Kemper Arena in Kansas City while performing a stunt. Hart was supposed to swoop into the arena prior to his match, but his safety harness wasn't attached correctly.

Because pro-wrestling is staged and because everyone knows it, many people in the crowd believed they were witnessing a part of the show. "When they took him off in a stretcher, everybody cheered for him like he was a football player being taken off the field," spectator Leo Washington told the New York Daily News. And when the show continued, that sort of just fed the fantasy. It wasn't until an hour later that commentators confirmed that Hart had died in the fall.

Hart was the youngest of 12 children born into a legendary Canadian wrestling family, which included his older brother and five-time champion Bret Hart. He'd been a Canadian college champion and a member of the WWE (then called the WWF) for more than a decade. And because every tragic story has to have an extra-tragic spin, at the time of his death he was planning to retire so he could spend more time with his wife and two kids. He was also thinking about becoming a teacher.

Green screens were made for a reason

If there's anything that can be learned from the wing walking accidents of a bygone time (which is evidently like 2011) it's this: Don't walk around on the wing of an airplane, unless it's firmly parked on the asphalt. Even then, it's probably not an awesome idea because pilots tend to get mad when you walk around on their planes' wings without permission. But that's not a lesson that everyone has learned, and so recently there was yet another wing walking accident — this one in Canada, and the daredevil who did not survive the stunt wasn't even a professional daredevil.

According to CNN, a rapper by the name of Jon James thought a wing walking stunt would make for an awesome music video, but he wasn't exactly a trained stuntman and while he did train, he may not have had the kind of practice needed to safely perform death-defying stunts. Unfortunately, making a mistake while wing walking isn't quite like making a mistake while tap dancing — James walked a little too far out on the wing, which caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft. The rapper tried to hold on as the Cessna went into a spin, but the effort was futile and by the time he let go he was too close to the ground to use his parachute.

The pilot regained control of the plane and landed safely. James was the only one who died.

Waterfalls are for looking at

America has a long and noble history of innovation, creativity, and throwing ourselves over waterfalls for the amusement of others. The very first daredevil who did this was Sam Patch, who incidentally was also America's first daredevil in general. According to Atlas Obscura, Sam Patch survived the leap into Niagara Falls twice, which is pretty impressive but not daring enough, evidently. Beating his own accomplishments was really the only way he could keep the public's attention (it's not like people were exactly lining up to challenge his title as "world's most insane waterfall man" or anything), so he had to keep upping the ante.

After Niagara become boring and passe, Patch decided to leap from the High Falls on the Genesee River, which was not quite as high up as the 125-foot platform he'd jumped from at Niagara but would at least bring in a new audience. And just to make the spectacle even more tempting, he promised to push a bear into the water first. 

Somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 cash-bearing people showed up to watch and everything went great, but Patch wanted more — specifically, more cash. So he scheduled a second jump, but this time, something happened mid-descent. Spectators said he "drooped," and then hit the water looking more like a marionette than a living person. And that was Sam Patch's last jump — his body was found 7 miles downstream four months later. The bear survived.

Waterfalls are still for looking at

There's something about Niagara Falls that inspires daredevils, despite the fact that the ratio of survived to didn't-survive is roughly three to one. According to NY Falls, of all the daredevils who have attempted to go over the falls in some kind of vehicle (whether a barrel or a kayak), 16 survived and six died. That number doesn't include the dozen suicides that happen at Horseshoe Falls every year, or the 5,000+ bodies that have been retrieved from the bottom of the falls since 1850.

On June 2, 2017, authorities found the body of Kirk Jones below the falls, but no one really seems to know much about his jump — Newsweek says tourists spotted "an inflatable ball" going over the edge in April, and police later found Jones' website, entitled "Kirk Jones Niagara Falls Daredevil."

"Believe in the Impossible Kirk Jones + Misty Conquer Niagara falls NY 2017," the site announced. And who is this "Misty," exactly? That was Jones' pet boa constrictor, who was believed to have been inside the inflatable ball with Jones. The snake isn't thought to have survived, either.

And just in case all this talk about jumping off Niagara Falls has tempted you, surviving the jump is not only rare but also expensive — after brushing you off and sending you home, you can expect to get a bill for $10,000 in fines plus the cost of your rescue.

Never enable an inexperienced daredevil

Young adults are hardwired to do stupid and risky things, so when they get killed doing crazy stunts they saw on YouTube it's horribly, horribly tragic but sometimes not very surprising. When a 34-year-old dies doing something crazy, though, it's a little harder to understand.

In 1966, a New Jersey truck driver named Nick Piantanida decided for some reason that he was going to break the world record for falling from impossible heights, despite not really having any training or experience doing such things. Now, since this stunt can only happen at the literal edge of space, it seems like for most people it would remain a stupid pipe dream, but not for Piantanida. He was somehow able to find lots of enablers, including the senator who gave him a space suit, some other people who gave him money, and enough volunteers to help make the whole thing happen. According to Smithsonian, Piantanida made two attempts to ride a balloon into the sky, neither of which were successful. No one is really quite sure what happened on the third attempt, but before he reached the target altitude of 123,500 feet, ground control heard "a sudden hissing sound" followed by the first half of the word "emergency." The crew cut the gondola loose from the balloon and it floated to safety, but Piantanida was unconscious when it hit the ground. He died four months later without ever regaining consciousness.

He died doing a stunt that doesn't even look cool

Jumping over stuff on a motorcycle or getting shot out of a cannon or leaping over Niagara Falls at least looks cool. You should never, ever try doing any of those things, but at least most people understand the motivations behind those particular acts of daring — it's the jaw-dropping, death-defying wow factor, and if it's accompanied by flames, loud noises, or bears, so much the better.

But sometimes people attempt stunts that aren't even visually impressive. Instead, they're just plain horrible to comprehend. In 2012 a 24-year-old Sri Lankan man named Janaka Basnayake dug a 10-foot deep trench and buried himself in it. And what's more, his friends and family were all evidently on board with his plan, since they pitched in to help him out.

According to the Telegraph, Basnayake was attempting to break the world record for "longest time buried alive," and he wasn't actually a stranger to being covered with dirt for hours at a time — his previous stunts had lasted between two and a half and six hours. This time he was going for six and a half hours, but evidently that was around a half hour too long. When he was dug up at the end of the stunt he was unconscious, and he was dead by the time he arrived at the hospital.

Maybe he should have gone with "high speed knitting" instead

Of all the stupid stunts people do, speed stunts are probably the most impressive and the most dangerous. Before the advent of cars, people tried to beat each other on foot, and then on horseback, and then while doing weird things like underwater archery or typing with your nose. So really it's more accurate to say that some speed stunts are dangerous and impressive, but definitely not all of them, unless the person who is typing on your keyboard with his nose has bird flu or something.

Anyway, according to Michigan Aviation Archaeology, 31-year-old Lowell Bayles set the official air speed record of 281.75 mph in December 1931, but for some reason because his speed wasn't more than 4.97 mph over the previous record, it didn't count. So Bayles tried again, but this time the attempt ended tragically. The plane took off and picked up speed, but before the official run began it "pitched violently," rolled three times and crashed in a spectacular fireball.

No one is completely sure what happened, but the most popular theory is that Bayles got hit on the head with his own gas cap, which came loose during flight and incapacitated him. The theory seems to be supported by video footage of the craft, and by the fact that the gas cap was found loose some distance from the crash site, along with Bayles' bloody goggles.

Niagara, the long-distance killer

It's kind of starting to seem like maybe Niagara Falls needs to answer for its crimes. Because it's killed like 5,000 people, while Mt. Everest, in contrast, has only claimed around 300. Granted, Everest does keep all its victims lying around like gruesome trophies, which is way more sociopathic than what Niagara does, but still, Niagara has some special powers — it can kill from a distance, sort of like Darth Vader only without all the one-sided banter during strangulation.

So how does Niagara do this? Well, surviving the descent over Horseshoe Falls is kind of miraculous, and people who experience miracles sometimes think they're untouchable. According to the LA Times, in 1984 37-year-old Canadian daredevil Karel Soucek went over Horseshoe Falls in a barrel, which must have given him some confidence because less than a year later he did the same basic stunt again, only this time from the top of the Astrodome into a 12-foot wide water tank. 

Overconfidence got him there, but the accident itself can be blamed on both the barrel's instability and the awesome power an audience who kind of wants you to just hurry up already because it only has the babysitter until 9 p.m. "[The barrel] started spinning real bad," one worker told reporters. "After a while the people started getting so impatient that we went ahead and dropped him." But instead of plunging directly into the tank, the barrel hit the edge of the tank and crushed Soucek's chest, killing him.

The world's first (recorded) death-by-thinking-you-can-fly

Human beings dreamed of flight for centuries before the Wright brothers figured out how to do it. In fact it's probably safe to say that it's one of the core human ambitions, right behind becoming wealthy and eating as much chocolate cake as you want without having to worry about calories. So there really is a very long and distinguished list of people who have tried to conquer the skies in the stupidest ways possible.

A thousand years ago, though, you couldn't really blame people for thinking that all you need to achieve flight is a pair of wings somewhat similar to bird wings. So for most of human history you have accounts here and there of people who built wings, jumped off high places, and plummeted to their deaths. According to How Stuff Works, one of the earliest records of this comes from 1000 A.D. when Turkish scholar turned daredevil al-Djawhari built a pair of wings out of wood, climbed a mosque, and then died shortly after making an impassioned speech about how he was about to achieve the unachievable. So there you have it, it isn't just modern people who die in stupid, hopeful, arrogant ways. It appears to be built into our DNA.

Um maybe you should try that with a dummy first?

A lot of people tried to improve on human flight, but most of the time the only real flying that occurred was when the bits and pieces of those carefully crafted wooden or feathered wings flew into the air upon impact. For some reason, it never occurred to most of these earlier aviators that they should maybe test their inventions on like a mannequin or a bear or something before actually strapping it to their bodies and jumping from the edge of a cliff.

According to the Vintage News, Franz Reichelt was an Austrian tailor who evidently felt that his profession specially qualified him to design aerodynamic clothing, since everyone knows pant legs and coattails must perform within certain specifications on a gusty day. Anyway it was 1912, and Reichelt had just invented the parachute suit, which was basically a flight suit with a parachute built into it.

Instead of testing the weird-looking thing on a dummy, though, he decided to test it on himself — this despite the fact he'd already broken a leg during an earlier, much lower altitude test. That earlier failure, he felt, was entirely due to not being tested from even greater heights, and he was so sure of this fact that he went up to the first stage of the Eiffel Tower and then jumped 187 feet to his death.

Hydrogen, meet fire

As it turns out, a lot of people gave their lives during the early pursuit of flight, and it wasn't just in planes, gliders, and parachute suits. Early hot air balloons were also pretty temperamental, like "I'm going to catch fire and fall out of the sky now" temperamental, which you might not know is like one of the worst kinds of temperamental there is, right behind "I'm going to explode now" and "I'm going to eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."

According to National Geographic, the world's first deadly balloon crash happened in 1785, when a balloon operated by French balloonists Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Pierre Romain caught fire and sent its occupants plummeting to Earth. The cause of the accident was most likely a stray spark, although it might not have happened at all if de Rozier hadn't put hydrogen in his balloon, which does tend to get rather explode-y when you combine it with fire.

The accident was the first balloon-related fatality in the history of manned flight, so at least the two men are remembered, though probably not for the reasons they'd hoped.

When you die trying to break your own record

Speed records on land or in the air are cool and all, but it takes a special kind of crazy to tackle a speed record on the water. Because water may look all pleasant and summery and like it's inviting you in for a swim but what it really wants is to kill you.

According to the Guardian, in 1967 Donald Campbell was trying to beat the water speed record of 276.38 mph in a jet engine-powered boat called "Bluebird" when he "met some slight ripples." The boat's nose came up, and then it went over backward, somersaulted, and violently hit the water, sinking almost immediately.

The weird thing about this story is that Campbell seemed to have known what would happen if he pushed his boat too far — he'd once said that Bluebird could withstand less than 3 degrees of nose lift before it would flip, and he was certainly smart enough to know that excessive speed could make that happen. And here's the other half of the tragedy: Campbell died as the water speed world record holder, not because his fatal run had broken the existing record but because the existing record already belonged to him. That's right, he died trying to best himself.

A man misjudged his abilities by several buses

Evel Knievel was the Elvis of daredevils, with his bright white, star-studded jumpsuit complete with cape and curly chest hairs. But even Evel Knievel knew his own limitations — after he nearly killed himself while attempting to jump 13 buses with a motorcycle, he went on to complete a single record-breaking jump of 14 buses and then called it quits. Well, there was that one stupid jump over a tank full of sharks that he did after that, but that was too lame to really talk about.

Anyway, lots of people since then have tried to duplicate Evel Knievel's stunts, but 13 or 14 buses is just so 1975. According to the LA Times, in 2005 a 44-year-old Iranian daredevil named Javad Palizbanian decided to jump not 15 or 16 buses but 22, which would have really shown Evel Knievel (who was still alive at the time) who the true king of bus-jumping was, except that the stunt killed him. Ironically, he came down on the 13th bus, so not only had he misjudged his abilities by a full nine buses, but he also unwittingly duplicated Knievel's 13 bus accident at Wembley Stadium in 1975.

Wu Yongning's stunts will make your toes tingle

Wu Yongning was a 26-year-old daredevil who performed stunts on rooftops — really, really high rooftops. He videoed his stunts and posted them online, and at the time of his death had shared nearly 300 such videos, so it's not like he was inexperienced at what he was doing. He used no safety equipment and claimed that all he needed was his "martial arts training and careful planning."

The stunt that ended Yongning's life was performed at the top of a 62-story skyscraper in Changsha, China. In the video that recorded the tragedy, Yongning can be seen performing a pull-up stunt and then struggling to climb back up to safety. In what is one of the most heartbreaking moments ever caught on video, he then loses his grip and falls to his death.

What's particularly awful about this story is that Yongning was mostly doing it for the money — according to the New York Post, an unknown entity was supposedly offering $15,000 for the stunt, and Yongning planned to use the funds in part to pay for his wedding. Note to other daredevils: Your fiance would probably prefer to skip the fancy wedding.