Pranks Gone Wrong That Accidentally Killed People

It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Sometimes pranks that people thought would be cool turn out to be cruel, and even occasionally backfire with deadly consequences. It's no laughing matter when someone gets killed in the interest of some innocent fun, but it happens more often than you might think. Here are some horrible pranks where a little mischief turned into tragic mayhem.

Halloween pranks turn fatal

Halloween tricks might be an ordinary part of the holiday's festivities, but for one teen in 2014, the joke went horribly awry when she lost her life as a result of her stunt. Adrian Broadway, a 15-year-old girl from Little Rock, Arkansas, was with her friends toilet-papering, egging, and throwing mayonnaise on a car, in retaliation for a prank someone else had pulled on her group. Unfortunately, a 48-year-old man came out of the house and opened fire on them in their car, killing her and injuring one of her friends. The shooter, Willie Noble, was later sentenced to 30 years in prison for Broadway's death.

A fatal jump-scare

What seemed like an innocent jump-scare became fatal in 2013 when an 18-year-old girl named Premila Lal hid in a closet at her house, knowing that a family friend was there watching over the property. She planned to surprise him by jumping out of the closet, but the housesitter, 21-year-old Nerrek Galley, was packing heat at the time — this despite playing video games with her 15-year-old brother. When he heard the noises of her entry, he grabbed his gun to investigate. Believing her to be an intruder, Galley shot the girl when she opened the door, and she later succumbed to her injuries at an area hospital. No charges were filed against Galley.

Bigfoot suit scares teens into committing manslaughter

There've been a number of hilarious hoaxes orchestrated in the name of Sasquatch, but one man's decision to suit up as Bigfoot to summon a few scares cost him his life. 44-year-old Randy Lee Tenley impersonated the elusive beast in 2012 by donning a military-style ghillie suit on the side of Kalispell, Montana's Highway 93, to spook travelers on the road into thinking they'd witnessed the sought-after animal. Instead, he was run over by two teen drivers and died as a result of his injuries.

Never tamper with stop signs

A traffic sign antic in Circleville, Ohio became the site of a horrific crash scene in 2011 after a pair of local teens decided to wrap an intersection's stop sign in plastic and petroleum jelly, rendering it invisible to drivers. The pair — 19-year-old Seth Stonerock and 18-year-old Derek Greenlee — apparently thought their roadside ruse was funny and bragged about it on Facebook. Sadly, two elderly women — 85-year-old Mary Spangler and 81-year-old Jeanne Shea — died after driving past the concealed sign and being struck by another vehicle. Stonerock was sentenced to four years in prison for being the central culprit, while charges were dropped against Greenlee, who claimed he tried to talk his friend out of it.

Ring, run, and die

"Ding, dong, ditch" was a common source of young amusement at one time, but when 16-year-old Mark Drewes engaged in the old door-to-door pastime in Boca Raton, Florida in 2003, it proved to be a deadly game. Drewes was shot to death while walking away from the home of Jay Levin, who claimed he thought Drewes was an armed intruder. Levin pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 52 weekends in jail, and ordered to pay $750,000 in restitution to the boy's parents.

The most fatal wedgie

Wedgies might be an ordinary part of childhood roughhousing, but in 2013, an underwear escapade became fatal. During an argument, 33-year-old Brad Lee Davis pulled his 58-year-old stepfather Denver St. Clair's bottoms so far up, the elastic band slipped around his neck and asphyxiated him. Davis claimed that the act was in self-defense and that St. Clair was supposedly insulting Davis' mother, but he was ultimately sentenced to 30 years for first-degree manslaughter for St. Clair's death.

A cop tragically overreacts to a silly prank

In another underwear-related fatality, a group of teens thought it'd be funny to throw their soaked drawers onto a nearby cop car after a late night swim. However, once the officer tracked down the kids later that night, his retaliation involved the use of deadly force. Trooper B.D. Gillespie of West Virginia suited up to exact revenge upon the jokesters and, after engaging in a skirmish with the group, assaulted 18-year-old Timothy Hill with pepper spray, his baton and, ultimately, two rounds from his gun. The boy died as a result of his wounds.

A heart attack in the line of duty

In 2005, five high school students in St. Charles, Illinois took their after-hours hijinks a bit too far. They broke into their school and stole a golf cart with the intention of driving into a campus pond, as others had done before. They were caught in the act and, during a foot pursuit of the young suspects, 53-year-old Sergeant Daniel Paul Figgins suffered a heart attack. He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

A prank call makes a nurse kill herself

In 2012, the first pregnancy of Duchess Kate Middleton was an international spectacle, especially when she was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London for complications associated with severe morning sickness. Australian radio show hosts Mel Greig and Mike Christian decided call the hospital while impersonating the Queen of England, in order to get details on Middleton's condition. The answering nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, believed them and patched them through to her nurse. A few days later, upon finding out she'd been duped, Saldanha was so humiliated that she took her own life, by hanging herself in the nurse's quarters at work.

Toilet paper prank turned deadly

In October 2010, Alabama firefighter James McRae was driving around in his Jeep pickup when he noticed four teenagers toilet-papering his house. He didn't think they were just there to TP, though — he thought they were trying to break in. So he pursued them, and they jumped in their car and drove off. Not giving up, McRae called 911 while trying to get a license plate number. Unfortunately for McRae, that's when disaster struck. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt and lost control of his truck. He crashed hard through a fence, was ejected from the vehicle, and died on the spot, according to the Alabama Press-Register. Worse, McRae had just married his girlfriend of five years, only a few months back.

None of the teens were charged with his death, though hopefully they all learned that even the silliest of dumb pranks can have severe consequences.

The unloaded BB gun that wasn't

November 25, 2010 — Thanksgiving Day — was the worst day of the Charbonneau family's lives. On that day, Jeffrey Charbonneau and his best friend, Nicholas Bell, were hanging out. Eventually, Charbonneau passed out. Because there's no humor like instant pain, Bell decided to grab what he thought was an unloaded BB gun and to shoot at or around his sleeping friend.

It wasn't at all funny because this supposedly unloaded BB gun was actually a fully loaded shotgun. Bell's planned joke became an execution; he shot his best friend point-blank in the chest, killing him instantly. He apparently didn't mean to, and in 2012 owned up to everything, pleading no-contest to manslaughter, simple assault with a weapon, and reckless endangerment. According to the Manchester Journal of Vermont, a judge sentenced Bell to just one year in prison for the latter two charges, with seven more suspended for the manslaughter. Charbonneau's family wanted more prison time, but the judge decided that this was simply a tragic accident, that Bell didn't mean to even point it at his friend (though what else he could have been planning to pretend-shoot at is a mystery), and that he was truly repentant and was in no danger to be violent in the future.

An extreme overreaction to egging

On December 2, 2006, 14-year-old Danny Crawford and two of his friends were egging cars. It's not the nicest prank in the world, but they certainly didn't deserve to die for it. But the Columbus Dispatch reported that's exactly what happened to Crawford, after an egg struck the car of Michael Gross and his 22-year-old son, Michael Jr. Enraged, Gross Sr. jumped out of the car and chased after the kids. Gross Jr., meanwhile, fired a pistol at the kids, and hit Crawford, killing him.

For a while, the Crawford family had no justice, as the Gross guys kept pointing the blame at a mysterious man named "T," who supposedly had borrowed their car and shot Crawford. There was no T, however, and eventually Gross Sr. came clean, making a deal with prosecutors for immunity in exchange for testifying against his son. Gross Jr. was sentenced to 15 years in prison in July 2010.

Off the tracks

In July 1982, 15-year-old Peter Wade and his friends were drinking and playing near some train tracks in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. They got the idea to throw a switch that would mess with the tracks, not to mention an oncoming train's planned route. It sure worked. The train didn't make the turn it was supposed to, and instead derailed, slamming into the wall of a factory. While the passengers all survived, the conductor, John Duffy, was killed immediately. The kids were arrested, tried as adults for manslaughter, and served some time.

Wade put in five years in a youth correctional facility, then went on to become a prominent Wall Street stock analyst pulling in millions. He also became a filmmaker, putting out 2005's Tracks, based on the story of what he and his friends did back in 1982. He claims he made the film to help, as ABC News put it, "reach out to troubled teenagers," though the Duffy family claims he should've found a less "self-serving" way to help than make a feature film he could profit from. Plus, as they put it, all that does is send a message to kids that if you senselessly murder somebody, you too can grow up to make millions of dollars and your own movie.

The worst Halloween prank of all

For Halloween 2013, 16-year-old Jordan Morlan of Fern Creek, Kentucky, decided to play a scary prank on his sister. He planned to pretend to hang himself and then come back to life, scaring her out of her wits. Unfortunately, he hung himself for real, and lost both oxygen and consciousness in under 30 seconds. Shortly thereafter, his sister — the one he was trying to scare — found him and called for their mother. She cut Jordan down, but it was too late. Jordan's organs had started to fail and he was comatose. Twelve hours later, he was dead.

Sadly, this was far from the only case of someone dying while pretending to hang themselves as a joke. According to Snopes, several teenagers over the years have tried it with deadly results. It's simply not a good idea — find another way to scare people that won't snuff your life out way too early.

Online cruelty

Some tragic pranks start out harmless, but this one was cruel from the get-go. According to the mother of 11-year-old Tysen Benz, he received messages over social media on March 14, 2017, saying his 13-year-old girlfriend had just killed herself. His mom thinks it was the girlfriend herself sending those messages while pretending to be someone else. Distraught, Benz replied to mutual friends that he was going to do the same. Apparently, nobody ever told Benz it was a prank and that his girlfriend was still alive. In addition, reportedly none of these friends told an adult that Benz was threatening suicide. Instead, they continued to tell Benz his girlfriend was dead, and either assumed Benz wouldn't actually kill himself or simply didn't care.

Sadly, Benz followed through with his threat. Within an hour of getting those messages, Benz had hung himself in his room. His mom found him later on and rushed him to a hospital, but it was too late. He never regained consciousness, and three weeks later he died. The girl in question has been charged with malicious use of telecom services, as well as committing a crime via a computer, but only time will tell if the realization of what she did will change her for the better.