No one can predict when a tragedy is going to happen, well okay, Nostradamus did but that’s beside the point. There aren’t many people who see tragedy coming, why would they? Now with the invention of photography, some of those tragic, last moments are captured forever. Take a look at the 21 images we compiled, just seconds, if not minutes before tragedy struck.
California stunt school graduate, Robert Overacker, was no stranger to dangerous stunts and in 1995, he planned to jump off Niagara Falls in an attempt to raise awareness to the homeless. He spent seven years planning the stunt. Robert rode off the waters of Niagara Falls and tragically plummeted to his death after his parachute failed to open.
Japan Airlines Flight 123
On August 12, 1985, Flight 123 was en route from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Japan’s Osaka International Airport. Just 12 minutes after takeoff, Flight 123 experienced an explosive decompression and 32 minutes later crashed into Mount Takamagahara. All 15 crew members and 505 of the 509 passengers died; while initially some passengers survived the crash, they subsequently died of their injuries hours late. To this day, it is still the deadliest single-aircraft accident and the deadliest aviation accident in Japan.
The decomposed body of 24 year old Chris McCandless, a hiker, was discovered by hunters outside of Denali National Park. McCandless was found inside of a rusting bus with a note taped outside of the door, stating he needed medical attention but he was picking for berries so if anyone stumbles upon the note, to await his return.
Back in 1943, 10 politicians, including the St. Louis Mayor William Dee Becker, were in a glider crash. A single bolt had failed on the glider causing the wing to shear off and the glider plummeted some 2,000 feet to the ground. Needless to say, the thousands of onlookers were mortified.
Die-hard NASCAR fans can tell you everything there is to know about Dale Earnhardt, especially every single detail of what happened on February 18, 2001 during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. During the final lap, Dale crashed into the retaining wall after his car made contact with Ken Schrader’s car, Dale was killed instantly. At just age 49, he was gone. It was his death that forced NASCAR to make major safety improvements.
The legendary James Dean was only 24 years old when he died in a fatal car crash. Dean was actually on his way to a car racing competition when he crashed his car.
The 1961 U.S. Figure Skaters
On February 15, 1961, the Sabena Flight 548 was en route to Brussels from the Big Apple. Flight 548 never got there though, it sadly crashed and killed 73 people, including the entire U.S. figure skating team; who were on headed to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
Whenever school shootings come up, everyone’s hearts break just a little bit more. Especially when we talk about the Columbine High School school shooting, which most actually call a massacre. On April 20, 1999, two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, entered their school and murdered 12 students and one teacher. They injured 24 more and ultimately committed suicide. Pictured below is Dave Sanders, he was a teacher at Columbine. When Dave heard the shootings, he ran to the cafeteria and warned as many students as he could to get out immediately – he was a real hero, saving many lives. As Dave ran to save more students, he ran into Harris who shot him twice in the chest, killing him.
On March 9, 1997, the rapper was shot four times in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. Notorious B.I.G. died from his gunshot wounds just hours later.
TransAsia Airways Flight 235
Domestic flight TransAsia Airways Flight 235 crashed into the Keelung River (a river in northern Taiwa) on 4 February, 2015. Two minutes into takeoff, the pilots reported an engine flame-out. Of the 53 passengers and five crew, only 15 survived.
September 11, 2011
There is not one American who does not recall exactly what they doing when news of the 9/11 terrorist attacks broke. The Islamic terrorist group known as al-Qaeda coordinated four separate terrorist attacks to be carried out on an average Tuesday morning on September 11, 2011. These monstrous attacks killed 2,996 people and injured some 6,000. 9/11 is forever a day that the American people will never, ever forget.
Paul Walker was, well, he was a wonderful, kind, funny, sexy man who was also a friend, a son, a brother, and a father. His death was one no one anticipated. During a charity event, Paul was in the passenger seat of a very nice Porsche, his friend Roger Rodas was driving the car when they crashed and were both killed instantly. His loss is one still felt today.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, on board were 283 passengers and 15 crew members. Flight 17 was shot down 50 km (31 mi) from the Ukraine–Russia border during the ongoing war raging between the two countries. The plane’s crash after it was shot down is regarded as the the deadliest airliner shoot-down in history.
Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
January 28, 1986 is a day many Americans remember all too well, this was the day that the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. 73 SECONDS into the shuttle’s flight, the orbiter broke and disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean. All seven members on-board were killed.
A group of hikers were in the West Milford’s Apshawa Preserve on September 21, 2011 when they stumbled upon a black bear. Darsh Patel, a 22-year-old Rutgers University student, snapped five photos of the black bear when moments later that same bear, attacked and killed Patel.
A commercial airliner carrying 144 people over San Diego, California collided with a private light aircraft, killing everyone on board. Flight 182 is also the deadliest aircraft disaster that has ever happened in California.
The RMS Titanic
No, we’re not talking about the movie but rather the actual tragedy. In 1912, the RMS Titanic was on its way to New York City from Southampton, England, carrying 2,224 passengers and crew on board when it collide with an iceberg. This collision caused the deaths of some 1,500 people, making it one of the deadliest commercial peacetime maritime disasters in history.
In September of 2006, everyone’s favorite Australian Crocodile Hunter was pierced in the chest by a stingray and was killed instantly. This tragedy took place while filming an underwater document, ironically titled Ocean’s Deadliest.
Suicide of R. Budd Dwyer
Robert Budd Dwyer was the 30th Treasurer of Pennsylvania until his suicide on January 20, 1981. Dwyer called for a press conference right in the Pennsylvania state capitol of Harrisburg but no one knew why. As the reporters gathered, he shot himself in front of everyone with a .357 Magnum revolver. Dwyer had been convicted of receiving a bribe and was sentenced to trail but he killed himself the day before – decades later, the primary witness in Dwyer’s case admitted that he had lied and that Dwyer was innocent.
2012 Carterton hot air balloon crash
In January 2012, a scenic hot air balloon took off in Carterton, New Zealand, and while attempting to land, the balloon collided with a high voltage power line. The collision started a fire and caused the pilot to crash to the ground, just north of Carterton. The pilot and the 11 passengers all died.
Concord Air France Flight 4590
On July 25, 2000, Flight 4590 was supposed to fly from Paris to New York City. This never happened though. As the plane was taking off, it ran over debris on the runway, causing a tire to blow up and a fuel tank was punctured in the process. This then lead to a fire and engine failure. The 100 passengers and nine crew members on board the flight all died after they crashed into a hotel near the runway and four more people that were in the hotel died.