The 13th Floor

When Selfies Kill: Careless Photo Stunts That Ended in Death

Sorry if this is kind of a harsh way to begin your week… but try to see it as a valuable lesson. I’m not trying to say that selfies are a bad thing — hell, I’ve posed for several of them myself, and I consider them fun way to personalize your experiences when sharing photos with your friends. But, as with any tech advancement that can improve our quality of life, it can also be abused… often with lethal results.

Texting while driving, for example, is not just illegal and extremely annoying, but it’s responsible for a mounting death toll. In fact, just over the past weekend, a driver swerved several feet into my lane doing over 75 miles per hour, nearly colliding with my girlfriend’s car… and while we thankfully avoided the impact, I briefly glimpsed the driver checking their goddamn phone.

Selfies present a slightly different kind of danger: while the phone user is at least looking upward, they can still overlook potential dangers around them, and when focused on taking the perfect self-portrait, people override the natural instinct for self-preservation… turning a mere split-second distraction into a potentially deadly accident.

Here are ten examples of amateur photographers hoping to make a brief mark on social media… but were instead remembered for one final, fatal mistake.

Image Credit: Facebook/iStock
Image Credit: Facebook/iStock

Teenager Burned Alive Attempting to Take the “Ultimate Selfie”

Photogenic 18-year-old Anna Ursu was completely obsessed with taking glamorous pictures of herself… but that obsession eventually grew beyond vanity and into the realm of mania, ultimately ending with a bizarre and grisly incident at a train station in the Romanian town of Iasi.

Determined to find an ideal setting for what she called the “ultimate selfie,” Ursu and a friend climbed to the top of a commuter train to pose for the picture when she accidentally strayed too close to the train’s power line. The resulting shock was powerful enough to set Anna on fire and propel her friend off the top of the rail car. She later died in the hospital from severe burns.

Image Credit: iStock/robas
Image Credit: iStock/robas

Climber Poses for a Selfie-Stick Photo, Falls Into a 100-Foot Waterfall

Police in Zhejiang, China have concluded that a man who died beneath the Long Men waterfall near the mountains of Dong Bai was yet another case of a scenic photo opportunity gone horribly wrong.

A man in his twenties or thirties, identified only as “Chen,” was found at the bottom of a ravine, along with his phone and a selfie stick. Authorities were unsure how long the body had been down there; there were no witnesses, and apparently the man had been hiking alone. They suspect Chen lost his balance while posing for a selfie and plunged over the edge of the 100-foot cliff into the ravine below.

Image Credit: iStock/nycshooter
Image Credit: iStock/nycshooter

Driver Posts Selfie to Facebook Minutes Before a Fatal Head-On Collision

Most of us have at least one favorite song that makes our work commute more tolerable, and 32-year-old Courtney Sanford was no exception… but the reason I wrote “was” instead of “is” just now is because last year, Ms. Sanford was so uplifted by Pharrell Wilson’s hit single “Happy” that she decided to share the love with her friends via Facebook, with a selfie of her smiling behind the wheel of her car — while she was still driving.

According to a 911 call from a witness, Sanford’s car crossed a median into the path of oncoming traffic and was struck head-on by a truck, hurtling her vehicle into a tree, where it burst into flames. She was reportedly killed instantly.

Image Credit: Komuna
Image Credit: Komuna

Man Killed by a High-Speed Train Trying to Recreate His Favorite Movie Scene

22-year-old Igor Kemeter was apparently a huge fan of the 1998 Serbian drama BARKING AT THE STARS (shown above). So much, it turns out, that he spent the final moments of his life recreating a scene from the film in which a young man proves his bravery by outrunning a train. The difference, of course, is that in the movie the character succeeds… whereas Kemeter did not.

When he saw an express train passing through the Serbian town of Sremska Mitrovica, Igor raced out after it, trying to take a quick selfie on the tracks to prove his courage to his friends. Unable to dodge in time, he was struck by the speeding train and died instantly.

Image Credit: iStock/hades-1
Image Credit: iStock/hades-1

Selfie Stick Becomes a Lightning Rod, Fatally Electrocuting a Hiker

Last July, an unidentified man was one of two people killed by lightning strikes during a sudden thunderstorm in the UK’s Brecon Beacons mountain range. According to the Telegraph, a rescue team was on practice maneuvers in the region when they discovered several hikers injured in different locations; two of them were likely killed instantly.

Sources close to the team reported that one of the victims was likely hit because he was carrying a metal selfie stick, which they believed must have acted as a lightning rod, drawing the electricity down toward the ill-fated hiker.

Image Credit: iStock/Riishede
Image Credit: iStock/Riishede

Tourist Falls Into Boiling Pool After Posing Next to an Active Geyser

We’ve previously pointed out the dangers of approaching geothermal springs and pools in our story about a man who was boiled alive earlier this year while searching for a “hot-pot” bath in Yellowstone Park. But last October, a similar incident occurred in Chile, at the site of a geyser field within the Andes mountains known as El Tatio.

According to the Mirror, 68-year-old Belgian tourist Françoise Guillaume was posing for a selfie when she strayed too close to a geyser’s plume; the force of the blast knocked her off her feet, and she fell into the boiling, acidic spring. Much like the Yellowstone fatality, Guillaume failed to heed printed warnings about the area’s instability.

Image Credit: Ken Canning
Image Credit: Ken Canning

Man Poses for a Selfie With a Walrus… Before it Drags Him to His Death

This spring, businessman Jia Lijun caused a double tragedy after visiting a marine mammal enclosure at China’s Xixiakou Wildlife Park, when he tried to take photos and videos with a 1.5-ton walrus. Jia crossed the safety barrier to get closer to the walrus, and when he was posing for a selfie, the animal grabbed him from behind and pulled him underwater, where he eventually drowned. One of the animal’s handlers was also killed when he dove into the pool in an attempt to rescue Jia.

According to the Daily Mail, the man had been posting on Facebook about looking forward to visiting the walrus, and his friends had been reading these posts just moments before the incident.

Image Credit: OShea Photography
Image Credit: OShea Photography

Fatal Plane Crash Possibly Caused by Pilot and Passengers Taking Selfies

Last summer, following the fatal crash of a small single-engine plane in Colorado, agents from the National Transportation Safety Board were going through the debris when they found an intact GoPro camera in the cockpit. The video files contained on the camera’s SD card showed footage from previous flights (although apparently not the final one), in which the pilot, 29-year-old Amritpal Singh, could be seen taking selfies with his passengers.

According to the Denver Post, investigators found that Singh’s flight training apparently did not include nighttime instrument flying, and theorized that he may have become disoriented by multiple camera flashes. Since the final flight was not recorded, there is no evidence to support this theory, but the video of prior flights suggests it may have been possible.

Image Credit: Ninja Monkey Studio
Image Credit: Ninja Monkey Studio

Men Pose for a Selfie Holding a Live Hand Grenade… With Explosive Results

So many selfie-related injuries and fatalities have been reported in Russia over the past few years that the Interior Ministry launched a nationwide “Safe Selfies” campaign to discourage people from seeking out potentially lethal photo opportunities. The kicker came after this horrific incident in the Ural Mountains region, in which two friends decided to pose for a selfie while holding a live hand grenade with the pin removed.

Needless to say, the pair paid for this foolhardiness with their lives… but the phone which took the picture somehow escaped destruction, and the photo itself now serves as a reminder of the dangers that can result from careless self-photography.

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