The Strangest Ways People Died In 2022

At a certain point in your life, it hits you: Dying is easy. The human body is a pretty fragile thing, and the list of ways it can be damaged to the point where it stops working altogether is disturbingly long.

Most of the ways people die are pretty expected, however — the leading causes of death around the world are all diseases and other medical events like cancer, stroke, and heart disease, with nary a shark attack or avalanche in sight. Even events we might think of as common, like car accidents, only account for a small percentage of deaths every year (about 1.3 million, out of approximately 55 million deaths worldwide). Even murder, something politicians want you to think is happening at some crazy rate, was only the cause of death for 464,000 people in 2017.

That's why we barely notice the cause of death for most people — they're usually pretty typical. But every year, there is a list of people who die under some very strange circumstances. These unexpected modes of death grab your attention in a grim, morbid way; you can imagine having a heart attack, after all, but it's difficult to imagine simply bursting into flame or tripping over your own beard and breaking your neck. Think these kinds of bizarre deaths only happened in the past? Think again: Here are the strangest ways people died in 2022.

Death by hockey skate

It was a tragic, nightmarish moment: 16-year-old Teddy Balkind, a student at St. Luke's School in Connecticut, was killed in January 2022 while playing in a school hockey game. According to CT Insider, Balkind was skating, crouched over, when an opponent's leg was raised up — and the razor-sharp blade of the other boy's skate sliced through Teddy's neck.

News outlets like The New York Post initially reported that Teddy had been lying on the ice when he suffered the injury and that the other player was unable to stop in time. That version was bad enough, but school officials clarified that his death was even more bizarre than originally thought. The game was immediately stopped and Teddy was rushed to Greenwich hospital, but he died from his injuries a short time after arriving.

As noted by The Star, the injury was only possible because Teddy was playing without a key piece of equipment — a throat guard. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference rules have required all players to wear these since 2001, but St. Luke's played under the rules of the Fairchester Athletic Association, which models those rules after the National Hockey League — which recommends but does require the throat guards. A friend of Balkind launched a petition to change the rules and make throat guards mandatory for all hockey players in the Association.

A car, a knife, and protein powder

Car accidents aren't in the Top Ten causes of death, but they're common enough that no one blinks when they hear someone died in their car. But the circumstances of an unidentified man in Rancho Bernado, California certainly raised a few eyebrows.

As reported by the San Diego Tribune, the man was driving a Lexus in the very early morning on February 20, 2022, when the car suddenly veered to the right. The Lexus smashed into a car parked alongside the road. According to the Times of San Diego, the impact caused that parked car to crash into another, sparking a chain reaction that caused damage to five more cars. The Lexus was speeding, and there were no skid marks to indicate any attempt to stop.

The driver was taken to the hospital, where a stab wound was discovered in his neck. The interior of the car was soaked in blood and, bizarrely, protein powder. The police also discovered a knife. Police determined that the man had not been wearing his seatbelt, and had probably been attempting to use the knife to transfer protein powder into a container of water as he drove. Distracted, he lost control of the car — and when the airbags deployed, they knocked the knife into his neck, causing a lethal injury.

Blown over by helicopter downdraft

You might be able to imagine that a helicopter might someday cause your demise — after all, helicopters soar high into the air, and a crash could certainly kill you. But 87-year-old Jean Langan wasn't in a helicopter on March 4, 2022 — she was firmly on the ground. As noted by ITV, the grandmother of four was walking through the parking lot of Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, England with her niece when a helicopter landed on the hospital's helipad nearby. According to Plymouth Live, Langan was blown over by the downdraft caused by the helicopter's arrival, fell over onto the ground, and hit her head. She died shortly afterward. Her niece was also knocked down and suffered serious but non-fatal injuries.

According to Devon Live, an inquest into the event was opened, and Senior Coroner Ian Arrow described Langan's death as a "never event," meaning it was something that should never have happened if normal safety rules and procedures were followed. The focus of the investigation was on the helicopter's approach and landing and whether anything unusual or outside normal guidelines occurred. The helicopter was transporting a patient to the hospital at the time.

The hospital built the helipad in 2015, concerned about helicopters being forced to land at nearby airports, delaying care to patients, or on an unsafe patch of land nearer to the hospital. Investigators suggested that they would be looking into whether a risk assessment was performed when the helipad was approved.

Swallowed by a pool

Any time you're in deep water, you're potentially in danger. You can drown in as little as one inch of water, after all. But there are other, stranger ways to die in a pool — like being swallowed by a surprise sinkhole.

According to The Washington Post, that's exactly what happened to a man named Klil Kimhi in the town of Karmei Yosef in Israel in July 2022. At a work event organized by his company, employees were enjoying a splash in the pool at the rented villa where the event was taking place. Without warning, a sinkhole opened in the center of the pool. As the bottom of the pool collapsed, water rushed in, pulling inflatable rafts and toys along with it. As can be seen in the horrific video shared around the world, two men were sucked into the sinkhole by the force of the water. One man managed to escape, but Kimhi was pulled into a hole that was more than 30 feet deep.

The Times of Israel reports that the villa was frequently rented for parties — but it was quickly discovered that the owner never applied for a permit to build the pool. This was likely because the permit would never have been granted due to infrastructure problems at the property. In the end, the loss of life could have been much worse — six people were swimming at the time of the tragedy.

Killed by competitive hammer throw

Attending any kind of sporting event carries at least some risk. You can be hit by balls or other equipment — or even the players themselves. But these injuries are relatively rare and usually aren't fatal. In August 2022, however, a man visiting the town of Geldrop in The Netherlands suffered a bizarre death involving a strange sporting event and a heavy metal ball.

According to The New York Post, the man was touring Geldrop Castle at the same time that the Open Highland Games were being held there. He wasn't a spectator, and was, in fact, behind a hedge when the "hammer throw" event took place. This competition involves swinging a very heavy hammer with a round, ball-shaped head around as fast as possible and then releasing it, with the longest distance covered winning the event. An errant hammer went over the hedge, and according to WKBN News, a moment later, the spectators could hear a woman screaming. The hammer had hit the man as he was walking through the Geldrop Castle gardens — he literally did not see it coming.

CBS News reports that the games were stopped, and emergency medical services were dispatched but could not save the man, who died on the spot from his injuries. The athlete who threw the hammer was reportedly "distraught" over the incident.

Debbie Collier's bizarre death

One Saturday in September 2022, a series of bizarre events lead to the discovery of the body of Debbie Collier, a 59-year-old office manager in Athens, Georgia. According to The Washington Post, Debbie's daughter, Amanda, received a mysterious deposit via Venmo for the amount of $2,385. The sender wasn't identified, but the memo read, "They are not going to let me go love you there is a key to the house in the blue flower pot near the door." This convinced Amanda it had come from her mother. That afternoon, Debbie purchased a red tote bag, a blue tarp, a rain poncho, and a lighter at a local Family Dollar store.

When her family reported her missing the next day, police quickly found Debbie's rented van. The red tote was propped up against a nearby tree, the blue tarp was found nearby — apparently burned — and Debbie herself was found naked and apparently burned around her stomach, holding what police described as a "small tree" in one hand.

According to Fox5 News, authorities initially suspected homicide, but Debbie's daughter publicly speculated it was likely suicide, noting that Collier had given away other possessions in the weeks leading up to her death and had been depressed. People reports that Debbie's son, Jeffrey, expressed frustration with the police involved in the case — and The Independent reports he believes the video showing Debbie Collier purchasing items at Family Dollar may not show his mother at all, but a different person.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Carbon monoxide poisoning on vacation

When Vincent Chiarella and his wife, Donnis, traveled to a resort in the Bahamas to celebrate their wedding anniversary in May 2022, it should have been a happy occasion. Instead, People reports that the couple — along with several other guests of the resort — suffered a series of bizarre health issues, and three eventually passed away mysteriously in their sleep.

Vincent's son, Austin, says that his mother went to a clinic at the resort after feeling ill during the day. When she was released, however, she felt better. She and Vincent went to bed, and when Donnis woke up the next day, she couldn't move — and Vincent was lying on the floor, dead. According to NBC News, the Chiarellas weren't the only guests of the resort affected: Michael and Robbie Phillips were also found dead in their rooms on May 6, 2022. Michael and Robbie had also complained of illness the night before, had also gone to the clinic, and had also gone back to their rooms. None of the victims showed any signs of trauma.

WJHG News reports that the cause of death was eventually found to be carbon monoxide poisoning. The gas is odorless and colorless and symptoms include headache, weakness, and dizziness. There were reportedly no carbon monoxide detectors in the rooms at the time.

Death by kangaroo

If your knowledge of kangaroos begins and ends with Kanga and Roo of "Winnie the Pooh" fame, you might be shocked to learn that they can be quite dangerous. According to The Guardian, kangaroos are very strong, have very sharp nails, and (unsurprisingly) have the ability to kick very powerfully. They're also known to play fight with each other and to battle more seriously for dominance. BBC News notes this can lead to problems because humans stand on their hind legs like the kangaroo, which can lead to confusion on the animal's part.

So it was probably not a great idea to keep this wild animal as a pet. But that's exactly what an Australian man named Peter Eades did, according to The New York Times. Eades was brutally mauled by his pet in September 2022, and when a relative discovered him and called authorities, NPR reports that the kangaroo prevented paramedics from getting to Eades. The police eventually had to shoot and kill the animal in order to get Eades medical attention. Unfortunately, it was too late — Eades was pronounced dead at the scene.

Although kangaroo attacks are rare — the last one recorded before Eades' unfortunate death occurred in 1936 — wildlife experts note that kangaroos do not do well in captivity and do not make good pets under any circumstances.

A deadly hangover treatment

As noted by Vox, the mysterious deaths of Russian oligarchs in 2022 are a whole separate phenomenon — at least 15 wealthy and powerful Russian business leaders have died under what could only be termed "mysterious circumstances" in this year alone. But in isolation, most of these deaths are fairly straightforward in terms of their method — with the striking exception of Alexander Subbotin.

Subbotin was a former top executive at one of Russia's largest oil companies, Lukoil. CBS News reports that he frequently went to the house of a man calling himself Magua, a self-described "shaman," for hangover cures involving poisonous toads. Yes, poisonous toads. The treatment involved making an incision and applying the poison, which made the patient vomit. Apparently, after this, the patient would feel better.

Business Insider reports that Subbotin was "highly intoxicated" when he arrived at the Magua's house in May 2022. After this particular treatment, however, Subbotin felt unwell and complained about heart issues. Magua, whose real name is Alexey Pindurin, chose not to get medical assistance, instead opting to have Subbotin lie down in his basement, where he often performed "Jamaican voodoo rituals." Subbotin was later found there dead after an apparent heart attack. Whether it's a coincidence that a former Lukoil executive is dead shortly after the company called for an end to the war in Ukraine remains to be seen.

South Korea Halloween crush

Every October in Seoul's Itaewon district, young people gather to go bar-hopping while wearing outrageous Halloween costumes. In 2022, this loosely organized event turned horrifyingly tragic when a "crowd surge" left 156 people dead, according to BBC News.

What makes this tragedy even more bizarre is the fact that it did not happen in a rush — it unfolded over the course of hours, and many of the people trapped in the crowd made numerous calls to police asking for assistance — assistance that came too late, and in insufficient numbers. CNN explains that when partiers emerged from the local subway station, the only way to access the main strip of bars and clubs was through a narrow alleyway. By early evening the crowd had become so large the alleyway was packed solid with people — people who couldn't move, and who were increasingly crushed together.

At least 11 emergency calls were placed warning police of impending horror. By 9:30 at night, the crowd was so large and tightly packed that people couldn't even leave the subway station. Many people suffered cardiac arrest as a result of the pressure, while others fell and were trampled. As noted by NBC News, South Korea reacted with shock and anger, with many people demanding accountability from the authorities for their apparent lack of concern and organization, which contributed to this grim, strange mass death.

Fan stampede in Indonesia

Worldwide, football (what Americans would call soccer) is plagued by a culture of violence. As the BBC explains, "football hooliganism" describes "describes the violent or aggressive actions of fans at matches." But this isn't a Western or European phenomenon — Reuters notes that violence has long been associated with Indonesian soccer, with violent crowd events common.

This culture of violence led to one of the strangest mass tragedies of 2022. As reported by The Guardian, after an October 1 match between Arema and rivals Persebaya Surabaya at Kanjuruhan stadium ended in defeat, angry fans ran onto the field for a typically violent demonstration. Police responded forcefully, which should have calmed the situation and restored order — but instead, it caused the exact opposite, and resulted in 125 deaths.

According to BBC News, the local police force responded to the fan invasion by using multiple canisters of teargas in a rapid deployment. This sparked panic and caused a stampede for the exits as a tense situation descended into absolute chaos, with people trampled and crushed in the insanity. The tactics used by police were immediately condemned, the chief of police was summarily fired, and nine officers were suspended as a result of the debacle.

Mystery tavern deaths in South Africa

According to Vice, in June 2022, 21 teenagers were found dead in Enyobeni tavern located in East London, South Africa. The cause of their deaths remained controversial and mysterious after months of investigation.

Initially, patrons reported that there was a surge of people attempting to exit the bar, suggesting that the victims had been trampled or crushed. But police quickly ruled this out, finding the teens — aged 13 to 17 — sprawled on tables, couches, and the floor, according to The New York Times. In July, NBC News reports that a medical examination of the bodies had found the presence of methanol — a deadly form of alcohol not made for human consumption. Methanol is sometimes used to create counterfeit alcohol used in shady establishments.

But in September, the official explanation for the deaths was asphyxiation. Some patrons had reported that the race for the exits had been prompted by a "mysterious gas" that had filled the room, but according to Vice, the official (and dubious) explanation blamed "friction" from dancing in the overcrowded bar as the cause. The parents of the victims were unsatisfied with this explanation, but officials refused to release a report on the incident. The owners of the tavern were charged with serving alcohol to minors, but so far, no further charges — or answers — have been forthcoming.