A Loving Family
We’re all familiar with the photos we take on an aeroplane, on our way to a family vacation. All smiles, excitement builds as we while away the time from take-off to landing. But as this doting father took a snap of his wife and his four year old daughter, he couldn’t have known it was going to be one of the last things he ever did. The whole family were killed in a 33,000 feet plummet, as the MH17 plane was shot down over the Ukraine before they ever reached their destination.
Staring at the Face of Death
Salesman Travis Alexander was murdered by his previous girlfriend Jodi Arias in 2008. He was a salesman, and lived a normal life. This chilling photo was thought to be taken just moments before his death, at 5.29pm. He was found later on, in the same bathroom on the floor after being killed by both stabbing and gunshot. The look in his eyes tells the whole story of his fear and betrayal in that very moment.
Who could forget the devastating tsunami which struck South-east Asia in December 2004. As many as two hundred and thirty thousand people were killed, and amongst them was 31 year old Deborah Garlick, who was on vacation in Thailand. When her parents retrieved her belongings, something not every family was lucky enough to be able to do, they found this undeveloped photo amongst her snaps of the trip. She is clearly happily sunbathing, with no clue of what is about to come.
At first glance this looks like your everyday happy selfie, taken by two friends without a care in the world. And you would be right. Collette Moreno was being given a lift to her own bachelorette party in Missouri by her friend Ashley Theobald, and decided to take a quick selfie of the excitement going on in the car en route. Unfortunately, taking selfies while driving, even if you aren’t behind the wheel can be dangerous, and Collette, the bride to be, was killed just moments later in a head on collision.
Gary and his mother were onboard flight MH17, with Malaysa Airlines, on their way to a well-earned vacation. Gary snapped this quick selfie with his mom, both clearly excited to be away from regular life and heading on a break. How could they have known that they would never get off that plane? All 296 passegers and crew members were killed in the crash when a missile brought down the flight before it could reach its destination.
The story of Jared Michael could be a whole different kind of tale. The teen decided to take a selfie as close as he could to the path of an oncoming train. Like so many others on our list, this could have been the last thing he ever managed to do. Luckily for him, the train driver managed to use his boot to kick the boy out of the way at the last second, saving his life. Selfies aren’t worth dying for folks! We bet Jared learned an important lesson that day.
This is one of those photos which the taker probably couldn’t believe they were taking while they pressed the button. On September 25th of 1978, first thing in the morning at 9.am, flight 182 of Pacific Southwest Airlines took a fiery descent to the ground, killing all 137 passengers on board. But that wasn’t all the carnage involved. Not only were 22 houses destroyed by the crash, but seven civilians on the ground lost their lives too. This photo shows those last moments before impact.
Imagine being in the room when a person takes their own life. Unthinkable. But that’sexactly what happened here to the journalists and media employees who showed up to the press news conference called by Budd Dwyer, who was the Treasurer of Pennsylvania throughout the 1980’s. It was January 22nd in 1987, and live on television, Budd took out his Magnum revolver and shot himself in the head. This photo shows the panic in his eyes.
There was a time when Columbine was just the name of a school, but that all changed on that fateful day in 1999, when two mentally ill senior students took guns and shot everyone in their path. This photo is taken by the CCTV footage of the cafeteria, and shows David Sanders, a teacher at the school warning the students around him to stay out of sight, possibly saving many lives in the process. As he left the cafeteria and entered the hallway, he was gunned down to his death.
You’ll forgive the quality of the photo when you realise just what you’re looking at here. This photo was taken accidently in 1970, by an amateur photographer. His snap caught the freefall of Keith Sapsford, who had somehow hidden away in the wheel well of a flight leaving Sydney towards Japan. He dropped during take off, and hit the ground after a fall of about 200 feet, dying instantly. The photographer was only meant to be testing his camera lens.
Here’s a bit of free advice for you, if you encounter a bear in the woods, don’t stop to take photos for your vacation album. Run. Darsh Patel met this grizzly when he was out hiking, and decided to take a few photos of his find. Within minutes of the photo being taken, he was mauled to death by the beast. His phone was recovered later, complete with something frightening, the teeth marks from the creature who killed him.
U.S Figure Skating Team
There’s few things more exciting than competing as a team for a common goal, and the U.S figure skating team, on their way to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague in 1961 must have felt their fair share of excitement. Here they stand, posing in front of the plane which was taking them to the competition. They could never have imagined that the flight would never get there, as their Boeing 707 was destined to crash on the way from New York to Belgium. The whole team died in the crash.
Whether he was brave or foolish, many were touched by the story of Pavel Kashin, the daredevil who astounded his fans with his stunts and tricks. In this photo, he is attempting a backflip which takes place right next to a 16-storey fall, and actually- he managed the flip. As onlookers watched, he lost his balance immediately after he successfully landed, and plummeted to his death. His parents issued a statement hoping that his death will stop others from attempting this kind of performance.
Probably the most famous tragedy in this collection, the Titanic was seen as a ship which was so totally unsinkable, that they didn’t even have enough lifeboats and life vests for the passengers on board on its own maiden voyage. This photo was the very last photo taken before the ship hit the famous iceberg and began to sink, in an event which would live through history and cost 1500 people their lives.
A celebrity entry on our list, Paul Walker was best known for the movie franchise The Fast and the Furious. This photo shows him enjoying a related hobby, fast cars. He is about to get into the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, the car which he would die in. The car was in a collision just minutes later, and Paul did not survive the fiery crash. His daughter Meadow actually filed a suit against Porsche for the death, which is still ongoing.
You would never believe looking at this photo that it was going to be the woman on the left who would be dead just a few minutes later, rather than the bleeding man she is helping. This photo is the hours during the horrors of 9/11, and Moira Smith was one of the first Policewomen to report the attacks, as well as the only female NYPD officer to be killed by them. Just moments later, she rushed to the south tower to save lives, and the building collapsed on top of her.
We’ve all had the experience of standing on a train platform during a crowded period, and worrying about being pushed and shoved towards the train tracks. But this photo shows everyone’s worst nightmares come true. Ki-Suk Han was pushed in front of a train in the New York City subway, and was unable to get himself back onto the platform in time. The 58 year old father and husband died immediately when the train made impact.
The world watched in horror when James Bulger was abducted in 1993 in the UK, taken from his parents while they were together in a shopping center, as this surveillance footage shows. While we all wished for a happy ending, it was not to be, and the truth came out that James was kidnapped, tortured and then murdered. Worst of all, it was two ten year old boys who committed these horrible crimes. This photo shows the beginning of the worst day of the family’s lives.
The looks on these astronauts faces says it all. They were delighted and excited to be part of this Space Shuttle program, and confident that if the shuttle had taken off and landed nine times before safely, the tenth would be no different. Unfortunately, just 73 seconds into its tenth mission, it broke apart, and all seven of the people pictured were killed, which included one civilian teacher. This was the second time that a shuttle had disintegrated in flight, the first being Columbia in 2003.
The Ebola Virus
Ebola is a word which strikes fear into everyone, whether you are in the medical field or not. But this photo shows Mayinga N’Seka, who was a nurse who worked with Ebola patients during the first outbreak of the virus in 1976. How sad and ironic that she worked to keep people safe from the dreadful illness, and ended up being one of the 280 people who succumbed to its claws. This photo was taken just days before she died.
Just one month away from her 18th birthday, and Xenia Ignatyeva decided she wanted to take more than your average selfie. She climbed onto a railway bridge, and posed for this photo as well as others, probably hoping to share it on social media for some likes and comments. The bridge was 30 feet high, and the fall alone may well have killed her, but she was also shocked by 1,500 volts as she grabbed live wires during the fall.
Another reminder that air travel was really a lot less safe in the good old days, this photo shows William Becker, who took part in a demonstration for a brand new aircraft. He was the mayor of St Louis for just two years from 1941 to 1943. The moment the plane left the ground, the right wing broke, and all ten passengers on board were killed. Pictured here before take off, the group look happy and even a little bored.
The McQuilken brothers
Some events seem like photo worthy moments, but actually should be taken more as a warning sign. Remember the man who got a positive pregnancy test, which turned out to be an indicator of cancer? This is similar. Brothers Michael and Sean took this photo when out camping in California’s Sequoia National Park. Not long after, they weren’t smiling quite as much when they were both struck by lightning. Luckily, they both survived to tell the tale.
The Station Fire
Reunion shows are all the rage, and 80’s bands are back on tour with their fans a little more grown up but just as exciting to go wild with them. The band Great White was no exception, and were holding a show in 2003 at a club called The Station. When the venue caught fire, 100 people were killed, and the tour manager and club owners were held accountable for the deaths. Does this photo show a band member noticing the flames?
If you want to raise money for a worthy cause, you have to get attention by pushing the limits. Robert Overacker was hoping to raise awareness and money for the homeless, and so, in 1995, he set out to do an incredible feat, Jet Ski over Niagara Falls. We will never know if he might have managed this, as his rocket propelled parachute never opened, and he fell to his death. This photo is taken right beforehand.
You might be forgiven for thinking that Christopher Wallace, better known as Biggie Smalls, was going to be involved as the shooter in a gunfight after looking at this photo of him with fellow rapper Puff Daddy in Los Angeles the night he died. But just hours later, Biggie would take his last breaths after he was shot four times during a drive by shooting. The case remains officially unsolved, despite enormous media attention and many witnesses.
Formula One is seen as a dangerous sport by many, and it’s the risk and the thrill which gets a lot of people behind the wheel, not to mention the fame and fortune involved. Ayrton Senna was seen as one of the best drivers in Formula One of all time, and this photo shows him looking cool and calm right before the race which killed him. The crash took place in Italy in 1994, and the Brazilian auto racer was famous for saying “Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose.”
A picture is worth a thousand words. That was certainly the case for the murder trial of Reynaldo Dagsa, who actually took this photo of his killer accidently while his family posed for a new year’s shot. He was assassinated seconds later on New Year’s Day 2011, and this very photo was used to help convict the man who did it. Dagsa was just 35 years old when he was murdered, and this photo shows the wife, daughter, and mother he left behind.
The Truck Stop Killer
This chilling photo was taken by Robert Ben Rhoades, better known as the Truck Stop Killer. He is believed to have murdered and raped more than 50 women, although most have never been found. This shows his last victim, 14 year old Regina Kay Walters, who was held and tortured for many months before her death. Rhoades is now serving two life sentences without parole in prison in Illinois. And thankfully will never see the light of day again.
Death by Selfie
Yet another death which could have been avoided, Oscar Otero Aguilar chose to take a selfie while holding a gun to his head. Who knows why the tragedy happened, but the gun went off, and he was killed instantly. He and his friends had been drinking, and they were all drunk at the time, but even under the influence, this seems like an obviously unwise move. Earlier than evening, 21 year old Aguilar took this photo of himself, little did he know it would be the last.
Halloween is the spookiest of nights, but for one British student, it became a real horror story. Meredith Kercher is shown here enjoying a fancy dress party with her friends, but later that same night she was found dead in a scene which had been made to look like a horror movie. 24 year old Rudy Guede was proven to have sexually assaulted and murdered her, and many people agree that her roommate Amanda Knox was also involved in the heinous crime.
Joy Division had its own cult following during the 80’s, and Ian Curtis was the singer and songwriter for the band. Some of their songs included Love Will Tear Us Apart and Atmosphere. Ian clearly was wrestling with his own demons throughout his life, and the photo of him here with his daughter Natalie was taken just days before he ended his own life by suicide. He was just 23, and at the top of his career, a chilling reminder that anyone can be afraid to ask for help.
Sometimes terrible things can happen because people aren’t careful enough. But other times, no matter how much preparation or care we take, fate intervenes on our behalf. Ramon Gonzales was better known to his fans as Jadiel, and posted this pic to Instagram on the day that he died. He is wearing a helmet and a face protector, but he still died in the motorcycle crash which happened just hours later. He was only 27 years old. A real tragedy.
The reason why people enjoy watching daredevil stunts is the fear that something might go wrong. But as we clench our fists and hold our breath, we all secretly hope there is a safety net prepared for the worst case scenario. Circus legend Karl Wallenda often worked without a net, to increase the showmanship perhaps, and at age 73 he took a walk on the wire, 121 feet above the ground. The whole accident was captured on film as he fell to his death.
A Final Embrace
What would you do if you knew you had just moments left to live? A freak accident left two engineers, aged only 19 and 21 on the top of a 67 metre high wind turbine in Holland, which had just caught fire. The pair were trapped, and knew that death was close by. They clung to one another in an embrace, giving each other that last moment of human contact, and resulting in this heart-breaking photo. What a haunting final moment.