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15 Pictures Taken Moments Before Disaster Struck

15 Pictures Taken Moments Before Disaster Struck

Back in 2015, the popular press was telling us that it was more likely for someone to die while taking a selfie than to be killed by a shark attack. The so-called “killfie” has a lot to answer for. Selfie or not, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Photos are moments of time caught on film forever. And when a picture is taken just before tragedy strikes, they become poignant reminders of what was to come. The people in the picture have no idea of what is coming. But we know. We see a smiling John F. Kennedy riding through the streets of Dallas in 1963, minutes before he was shot dead. Or we study a picture of John Lennon signing an autograph for Mark Chapman, the man who would shoot him dead not long after the picture was taken. Then there is the image of a smiling Princess Diana moments before she entered the car in which she died in that fateful crash in Paris. They are oblivious to what is coming. But we are not. We have put together a collection of pictures that were taken just before disaster, even tragedy, struck. Most capture a moment in time just before very bad things happened. Here are 15 pictures that were taken just before things went very, very wrong. And trust us, our old friend the selfie has a lot to answer for in these stories.

15. Speeding To His Death

He was 40-something and handsome, with piercing blue eyes. His easy way hid a history of self-doubt and worry. And he was a movie star of some standing. In 2013 Paul Walker was in the middle of filming Fast & Furious 7 in Atlanta when he flew back to the Los Angeles area for Thanksgiving. A few days later he was dead. On the afternoon of November 30th, the Porsche in which he was riding went out of control at high speed and slammed into a tree. Walker probably lived just long enough to realize what was happening. The last picture of him was taken moments before the crash as he left a charity event. Walker left a young daughter and a long string of lawsuits behind him. And the movie? They used his look-alike brothers as stand-ins to finish the film.

14. Staring Death In The Face

14-year-old Regina Kay Walters was serial killer Robert Ben Rhoades’ last victim. A truck driver known at “The Truck Stop Killer”, he tortured, r*ped and killed as many as 50 women between 1975 and 1990. In 1990, Rhoades picked up runaway Walters and her boyfriend. He killed the boy almost straight away and held Walters prisoner for some time. At the end, he shaved her hair and forced her to put on a dress and heels before killing her moments after this picture was taken. The end of the line for Rhoades came later in 1990 when a Highway Patrol officer entered his truck and found a naked and hysterical handcuffed female. A search of Rhoades’ home revealed a creepy cache of victims’ photos, including this one. He did plea deals and avoided the death penalty. But he’s banged up for life.

13. Princess Diana’s Last Ride

Princess Diana died twenty years ago, almost to the the day. She was famously divorced from Prince Charles and “dating” Dodi Al Fayed, the son of the rich and powerful tycoon Mohamed Al Fayed. In August of 1997, they were vacationing together, first aboard the Al Fayed yacht and then in Paris. It’s hard to imagine the unrestrained harassment Diana suffered at the hands of paparazzi intent on securing pictures of her. She was chased and hounded mercilessly. And when, on the evening of August 31, 1997, she and Al Fayed climbed into a chauffeur driven Mercedes and sped away from a Paris hotel, they were chased by a voracious horde of cameramen. The car crashed into the wall of a tunnel. And the cameramen? They kept taking pictures.

12. Roof-topping Daredevil Falls To His Death

Andrey Retrovsky, like a lot of Russian teenagers, was totally addicted to posing for pictures in dangerous situations. His specialty was putting himself in harm’s way. He hung from roof-tops and stood on the edge of slippery metal scaffolding. And, at the end of the day, it killed him. Retrovsky fell from the roof of a nine-storey building in the city of Vologda. Seems there had been a rash of similar incidents in Russia. Two young men died when they took a selfie of themselves with a charged hand grenade. And in Moscow, a woman posing for a selfie with a gun, shot herself in the head. ‘Enough’, the Russian government said. They launched a totally ineffective “safety” campaign. No, nobody paid it a bit of attention. Retrovsky, before his death at the age of 17, had quite a social media following. It’s easy to see why.

11. Scary Tinder Addict And The Babe

Picture of a happy couple? Well, not quite. Warriena Wright was a tourist from New Zealand who fancied a bit of Australian fun and games. So, she jumped on Tinder and met Queensland resident Gable Tostee. Of course, they ended up back at his apartment. Somewhere along the line, things turned nasty. Some reports say that Wright was so frightened of Tostee that she considered clambering over his balcony some 14-storeys up. Predictably, she fell to her death and Tostee is on trial for her murder. The evidence against him is pretty damning. In a recording on his own phone, he is heard saying, “You’re lucky I haven’t chucked you off my balcony you God damn psycho little b*tch.” Seems the guy has boasted of over 260 Tinder conquests. Nice guy? No way. Busy guy? Not anymore.

10. Another Russian Daredevil Bites The Dust

What is it with Russian teenagers? Daredevil Xenia Ignatyeva thought it would be cool to impress her friends by taking a selfie with a difference. Xenia was a month away from her 18th birthday when she climbed atop a bridge in the city of St. Petersburg and took this triumphant picture. The smiling shot of her was taken moments before she lost her balance and fell. The desperate girl grabbed at a live wire and got zapped by 1500 volts of electricity, before finally hitting the concrete pavement. In all, she fell some 300 feet. A friend who witnessed the whole thing was paralyzed with shock and severely traumatized. While one or two sites call this a hoax, most recognize it as the real deal.

9. Dream Holiday Ends In Death

By all accounts, Gary Slok was a happy, uncomplicated 15-year-old Dutch boy. Keen on sports, he was the goalkeeper for his local football club. In July of 2014, he and his mom Petra were off on a holiday designed for single parents and their children. On July 17th, the excited and happy pair got onto Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in Amsterdam, bound for Kuala Lampur. As they settled into their seats, Gary and Petra took a smiling selfie and posted it to Facebook. It was going to be a dream trip, the holiday of a lifetime. Three hours later they and 296 others on the flight were dead after the plane was hit by a missile as it flew over the Ukraine. Seems it was fired by rebel separatists. Some reports say the Russians tried to cover the whole mess up by hiding the plane’s black boxes.

8. Karl Wallenda Takes His Last Walk

Ah, the Flying Wallendas! They were a daredevil circus act that specialized in doing stuff high up in the air, usually without a safety net. Karl Wallenda was the founder and the great-grandfather of current daredevil Nik Wallenda. In 1970, Wallenda drew huge crowds when he “skywalked” across Tallulah Gorge in Georgia. He even stopped twice to do headstands as he crossed the quarter-mile-wide gorge. Forget retirement, he said. When he was 73-years old he set out to walk between two hotel towers in San Juan, Puerto Rico. But the combination of high winds and a wobbly wire led him to lose his balance and fall 120 feet to his death. Of course, a local TV film crew got the whole tragic scene on tape. His great grandson Nik, is carrying on the family tradition with stunts such as a tightrope walk across Niagara Falls. He doesn’t believe in safety nets either, saying they give you a false sense of security.

7. Happy Selfie, Deadly Crash

Everyone said that it was the happiest time of her life. It was a bright and sunny June day in Missouri and bride-to-be Colette Moreno, was on her way to her hen party with her best friend Ashley Theobald. Colette, a pretty 26-year-old girl with dark hair and a mega-watt smile, took a happy, carefree selfie of her and Ashley. The world seemed like a perfect, wonderful place. Moments later, Ashley drove past a truck and into the path of another truck traveling in the opposite direction. It was a horrific scene of carnage. Ashley survived the crash with minor injuries. Moreno died later in hospital, leaving behind a 5-year-old son and a crushed fiance. Apparently, Ashley decided to pass the truck because the fumes from the vehicle were bothering Colette. She just did it at the wrong time.

6. Everything Will Be Fine. Not

No prizes for guessing what happened here. Jane Wicker was a 40-something budget analyst with a passion for wing walking. Yes, on airplanes. When they were up in the air. She and her trusty pilot Charlie, were a great double act and Jane was considered one of the best wing walkers in the United States. Safety first was her motto. So, in 2013 she planned to do her signature “hanging underneath the plane’s wings by her feet” act at an airshow. For her, it was business as usual. The airshow announcer was whipping the crowd into a frenzy. People were cheering and whooping. Everything was fine. Then, without warning, the plane tilted and slammed into the ground, killing both Jane and Charlie. What had she said before the show? “Things will be fine.”

5. Intrepid Reporter Meets Baseball

Back in 2013, this picture went viral, with some screaming Photoshop. It’s either a one-in-a-million fluke or manufactured by Photoshop. It shows pretty blonde Tampa Bay sports reporter Kelly Nash, sitting in the stands at Boston’s Fenway Park. She was doing her reporter thing and covering batting practice. And she did what pretty blondes with smart phones always do: She was taking selfies of her pretty self. But one of them seems to show a ball speeding towards her head. “Most dangerous selfie ever,” she posted to her Twitter account. She swears it’s real. But why, the Internet trolls demanded to know, wasn’t she hurt? She still swears it’s real. And we know that TV reporters never lie. Much. Unless there’s a good story in it.

4. The Selfie That Killed

Ramon Gonzalez, known by the name of Jadiel el Tsunami, was a Puerto Rican rapper whose thing was Reggaeton music. His cool and smooth raps about love and life gained him a loyal fanbase. In 2014, while he was back home in Rochester, New York to celebrate some family birthdays, his brother Miguel surprised him and gave him a new motorcycle. In fact, Miguel bought the two of them matching motorcycles. Jadiel was thrilled. But three days later he died while riding his baby alongside his brother. Seems Jadiel took the selfie of himself in his motorcycle helmet while cruising. Some say the selfie distracted him and caused him to lose control of the bike. He rode right into the path of an oncoming vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

3. Death In Paris

It was an attack that shocked and angered the world. In November of 2015, around 90 people were killed by a coordinated terrorist attack at the Bataclan theater in Paris. The worldwide outpouring of outrage and sympathy in the wake of the attack was monumental. Victim stories emerged. And none is more poignant than that that of Gilles Leclerc and Marianne Labanane. The selfie the couple took and posted shortly before the attack went viral pretty quickly. There they were sipping their drinks and enjoying an Eagles of Death Metal performance when suddenly gunmen entered the venue and began killing everyone in sight. Marianne survived. Gilles was not so lucky. The 32-year-old florist was cut down in a hail of bullets and died.

2. Dying Happy

Did Courtney Sanford die for a selfie? Some say the answer to that question is yes. There she is driving along when Pharrell Williams’ platinum selling single “Happy” came on the radio. She took a black and white smiling selfie and posted it with the caption: “The happy song makes me HAPPY!”. Within a minute of the post hitting Facebook at 8:33 a.m., the North Carolina resident’s car crashed into an oncoming truck. She died instantly. Reportedly her car crossed the Interstate center divider and crashed into a recycling truck before bursting into flames. Police believe she was distracted while posting to Facebook. “Happy” was probably still playing on the radio.

1. Cute Photo Seconds Before Death

Katherine Chappell was an Emmy award winning editor who worked on TV’s Game of Thrones and in movies such as Divergent. Everyone said she had a bright future ahead of her. In 2015, the 20-something was in South Africa to work as a volunteer at a game reserve. But the day Chappell took a break from her work to visit a safari park north of Johannesburg was to be her last. No one is quite sure what happened. First, a seemingly docile female lion approached the car in which she was riding. Reportedly, Katherine rolled down the window to take a picture. Still, everything seemed fine. Then, suddenly, the lioness reared up on the car and bit Chappell. When she walked away with blood dripping from her mouth, witnesses thought it was all over. Then, suddenly, the lioness turned and leaped back into the car and mauled Chappell. She didn’t stand a chance. She died at the scene.


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