Harry K. Daghlian, Jr., a scientist working on the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, became the first person in history to die in a nuclear criticality event. While preparing a bomb for the Operation Crossroads series of nuclear tests, Daghlian accidentally dropped a tungsten-carbide brick onto a plutonium-gallium alloy bomb-core, causing it to go supercritical. Daghlian received an estimated 510 REM of neutron radiation and quickly developed severe radiation poisoning. He died in a coma 25 days after the initial incident.
In 1908, Byron Carter, founder of Cartercar, came across a stalled motorist on Belle Isle in the middle of the Detroit River. He gallantly offered to crank the car for the stranded driver. When she forgot to retard the spark, the crank kicked and broke Carter’s jaw. Complications developed, and Carter later died of pneumonia.
Franz Reichelt, a 33-year-old Austrian tailor and inventor living in Paris, died jumping from the first platform of the Eiffel Tower in a test of his experimental parachute-suit. Reichelt had designed the flight-suit that extended into a parachute as a way to save pilots that were forced to eject from their aircraft mid-flight when they couldn’t carry a traditional backpack-parachute with them. He had received permission from the Paris Police to conduct a trial-run of his suit on the Eiffel Tower using a dummy. Just before the test was to take place, Reichelt revealed that he would be making the jump instead, despite attempts by friends and spectators to dissuade him. When he made the jump his parachute failed to deploy and he fell 190 ft. to his death. The entire event, including Reichelt’s death, was captured by a cinematographer. This footage can now be found on the Internet, and is one of the earliest examples of an accidental death being caught on film.
Submission by Logan Agle. Thank you.