When we’re growing up, it’s probably fair to say that most of us imagine being a superhero at some point. We love the idea of having superpowers – being able to fly, having the strength to lift buildings, being impervious to bullets and so forth – but we know that the truth is we’ll never have them.
The closest most of us will ever get to being a superhero is dressing up as characters like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man and playing make-believe with our friends. Some people may do some truly heroic things in their life too – like saving somebody’s life – but even that’s not the same as possessing superhuman powers.
In a bid to be like a superhero, some people have taken it too far and ended up paying the price for it. Whether it be through innocent childhood naivety, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or through sheer stupidity, a number of attempts to copy superheroes have actually ended up being fatal.
In this article, we’ll look at just a few examples of that being the case. Here are fifteen tragic times people died emulating superheroes.
15. Falling From A Bedroom Window
In 2011, six-year-old Kevin Morais fell from his bedroom window in South London. Tragically, he died. Kevin was a huge fan of the superhero Spider-Man and, having survived a fall from the same window just a year earlier, he thought he was nigh-invincible, just like his favourite character.
The youngster had spent the day tidying his bedroom and doing his homework up until the point the accident occurred, when he decided to open the window and climb along the ledge outside the third floor room, copying Marvel’s Webbed Wonder. His mother, nurse Maria Morais, heard a thud but didn’t hear any screams – which suggests Kevin was knocked unconscious instantly from the impact of the fall. When she went outside, she found her “naughty little boy” completely unresponsive and in a pool of blood. He was flown to hospital and died the following day.
14. Trying To Fly Like Superman
In 2011, one four-year-old boy tragically died and his six-year-old brother was seriously injured, after the pair jumped from a fourth floor window in Maoming City, Guangdong province in China. The brothers were both taken to a local hospital, where the injuries caused by the fall overcame the younger sibling, while the elder sibling underwent emergency surgery that saved his life.
According to a local businessman who owned a shop on the first floor of the same building the boys jumped from, the older boy jumped first, with his arms stretched out like one of his favourite characters – Superman – evidently believing he could fly and was impervious to harm like the Kryptonian superhero. His impressionable younger brother followed suit soon after, which proved to be deadly for him.
13. He Wasn’t Allowed To Watch Spider-Man
In 2014, in Jakarta, Indonesia, a five-year-old boy died after jumping out of a window pretending to be Spider-Man. The body of the youngster, who was named only as Valentino, was recovered from a fibreglass roof in the apartment complex where he lived. He was taken to a nearby hospital, but was tragically pronounced dead upon his arrival there.
Valentino had been told by his mother – 23-year-old Eva – that he wasn’t allowed to watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2, at which point he had rushed to his room in frustration and locked himself in. He was a hyperactive child who was prone to copying superheroes like Spider-Man, Iron Man and Captain America, and he proceeded to do so outside his window when he fell. When his mother tried to unlock Valentino’s bedroom door, she failed and rushed downstairs to get help – and it was at that point that she heard commotion outside, which was people trying to help her son. Sadly, however, it was too late.
12. Playing At Being Superman
Back in 1999, a young boy in Hart Village, which is near Hartlepool in the North East of England, died when he got a cord from a window blind tangled around his neck. Four-year-old Andrew Brookes was running around his house pretending to be the DC superhero Superman at the time.
Paramedics were on the scene quickly, but it was too late, as attempts to treat the youngster – who was described as being a “lovely, bright boy” who was “always so happy” and “adored” by his family – were ineffective and he died soon after in the nearby Hartlepool General Hospital.
11. Batman Impersonator Is Killed
As far as being killed whilst emulating superheroes goes, this particular entry is undoubtedly the most literal one on this list – and this time it wasn’t a child.
51-year-old Leonard Robinson – who was also known as the Route 29 Batman – made a life of dressing up like Batman and visiting children’s hospital in West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. (he was barely ever out of character and even went as far as owning his own Batmobile).
One Sunday evening in 2015, Robinson was travelling home in his Batmobile from an event in Charleston, West Virginia, when he started having engine trouble on Interstate 70. While Robinson was standing in the fast lane checking his engine, a Toyota Camry slammed into his Batmobile, which subsequently slammed into him and killed him there and then.
10. Sandbox Tragedy
It isn’t just the mimicking of classic Western superheroes that has resulted in tragedy over the years, as this particular incident proves. Naruto – full name Naruto Uzumaki – is the titular star of a Japanese manga series about an adolescent ninja.
Sand is a major part of the show, as control over it can be useful for anything from concealment to attacks. Sadly, in 2008 in Washington state, a 10-year-old boy died when copying the concealment aspect.
Codey Porter’s playmates buried him head-first in a one-foot-deep sandbox and, when he started thrashing around wildly, they thought he was just fooling around. However, he stopped breathing and, by the time help was sought, it was too late to save him.
The adults present attempted to administer CPR, and emergency medical personnel treated him upon their arrival at the scene, but he was pronounced dead two days later, having been transported to Providence Everett Medical Center and then to Seattle, where he had been in a critical condition for those two days.
9. “Look, I’m Superman!”
In 2001, a 9-year-old boy fell five stories to his death in the Bronx, New York, in an attempt to leap from the roof of one building to another. His name was Julian Roman – a boy described as “a friendly third-grader who loved karate” – and he was playing outside in the early evening with his friends when he decided to head up to the roof of 2730 Decatur Avenue in Bedford Park.
He attempted to jump across a four-foot-wide alley while shouting “Look, I’m Superman”, but tragically didn’t make it. The impact of Julian’s body hitting the ground made such a loud thumping noise that it brought several local residents into the courtyard, where they were met with a truly horrible sight.
8. The Deadly Dupatta
In 2011, an eleven-year-old boy named Soham More passed away in Mumbai, India, when he attempted to perform stunts similar to moves performed by DC’s superhero Superman. More was pretending to fly while playing games with his six-year-old younger brother when tragedy struck.
The youngster was using his mother’s dupatta as a makeshift cape (a dupatta is a shawl-like scarf that is essential to many South Asian women’s outfits) when he fell down, causing the dupatta to choke him to death. His mother was out buying vegetables while his father was out of town, so he was in the house alone with his sibling.
7. The Superman Game
In 2015, the 2-year-old son of a former Ohio pastor was killed in Dayton, Ohio, when his head hit the corner of a wall while playing the “Superman Game” with his father. Torace Weaver was spinning the child around in the air, pretending he was the flying Man of Steel, when his head accidentally struck the corner.
Weaver panicked and originally told the police that his foster son had fallen, but a coroner’s investigation found that the boy had twenty head injuries, a very severe burn on his arm and several other injuries on his back. As a result of his lies and the other injuries on the boy, although the death was supposedly accidental as a result of the game they were playing, Weaver was charged with murder.
6. Spinning Like Shaktimaan
In 2004, in Calcutta, India, a nine-year-old girl accidentally killed herself when she tried to copy her favourite Indian superhero – Shaktimaan. Reshmi Roy wanted to twirl in the air just like the popular character does, so she hung up a gamcha (a traditional Indian towel) by attaching it to the bamboo rafters, tied it around herself and jumped. She choked to death as a result.
Reshmi was alone in the house, with no one to help her, as her seven-year-old brother Satyajit, and twelve-year-old sister Sunita, had gone out to buy sweets from a hawker in the street. The three siblings had been left at home with their uncle while their parents were at work – but he was busy in the kitchen.
When Satyajit and Sunita returned, they found Reshmi hanging and ran to get help. Their uncle cut Reshmi down, but she was already dead. Her parents – mother Pramila and father Sona – both went into severe shock when they found out about Reshmi’s death, with Sona stopping speaking completely for a while after the incident.
5. A Homemade Noose
Staying in India, but this time in the industrial city of Howrah, we come to a tragic incident that occurred in 2009.
Vishal Hela was a 12-year-old boy who loved watching anything with action scenes on the television – mostly superhero shows and professional wrestling matches. As a result of this, the youngster accidentally strangled himself while he was trying to reenact a stunt he had just seen on the small screen.
Hela was alone at his home in the staff quarters of Howrah General Hospital when he took some wire, tied it to the ceiling and made something resembling a lasso to swing from. At some point, the boy got his neck caught in the noose and jumped, resulting in it coiling tightly. With nobody there to hear his whimpers for help, he had died by the time his grandmother returned home that night.
4. The Joker Gunman
This particular incident is very different to those before it on this list, as the person involved was actually dressed as a villain and really did bring it on himself, but it is still tragic in its own way – and it does bring some variation to the article. It happened in 2009, in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, when army specialist Christopher Lanum was shot dead while dressed as and mimicking Batman villain the Joker, who he was absolutely obsessed with.
Lanum was wanted as a suspect in a stabbing case involving a fellow soldier. That incident had occurred some 200 miles away in Fort Eustis – an army base – a few hours earlier. Lanum had stabbed and used a stun-gun on Mitchell Stone, then fled with his girlfriend, Patsy Ann Marie Montowski.
When the police caught up with them, Lanum had asked Montowski to kill him with a shotgun, but she refused. At that point, he pointed the gun at the police and refused to drop it, which resulted in him being shot several times and killed. Montowski was also shot in the incident, but she survived.
3. Horsing Around On An Escalator
Earlier this year (February 2017), a 29-year-old woman tragically died when she fell from an escalator in the World Trade Centre transit hub. Jenny Santos, 29, lost her balance after she was allegedly “laying prone on the handrail” in the moments before her death in the centre’s main station, which is known as the Oculus.
Witnesses said “she pretended to fly like a superhero” and that there was “a lot of blood” in the aftermath of the incident.
Jenny, a rowing instructor who was also a twin, was due to travel home to New Jersey with her sister not long after the incident occurred, but was instead pronounced dead at the nearby Bellevue Hospital soon after. The cause of her death was determined to be blunt trauma, after her head had hit the World Trade Centre’s marble floor following her fall.
2. Brandon Lee As The Crow
We now arrive at the only entry on this list that involves somebody dying while playing a superhero in an actual superhero movie. It happened in 1993 at the filming studio in Wilmington, North Carolina, and it involved Brandon Lee – the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee.
Brandon was filming The Crow at the time – a movie that did actually go on to get released to critical acclaim – when he was accidentally shot. The scene Brandon was filming at the time required a gun with blanks in it, but a gun with dummy cartridges from a different scene was used by mistake. The movie’s prop crew had unknowingly left the live percussion primer in place at the rear of the cartridge, which meant the dummy cartridges were fired with similar force to an actual bullet.
Brandon was shot in the abdomen and mortally wounded. He was rushed to the nearby New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington and underwent six hours of surgery, but it proved fruitless. He was pronounced dead at 1:03pm on March the 31st, 1993.
1. A Real Superhero
The most tragic – but undoubtedly the most amazing – of all these stories is that of Dominick Andujar.
In 2012, 35-year-old Osvaldo Rivera broke into Dominick’s home, where Dominick and his fourteen-year-old sister Amber, were being looked after by one of their two older sisters. Their father no longer lived with them and their mother was in hospital following an operation. Dominick was sleeping at the time of the break-in, but was awakened by Amber’s screams as she was sexually assaulted by Rivera in the living room.
Without thinking twice, brave young Dominick stormed into the living room and attacked Rivera. His sister’s throat had already been slashed, but Dominick’s intervention allowed her to escape into the street and raise the alarm. Dominick was tragically killed by Rivera.
A diary Dominick had written at school was given to his family after his death. In it, the amazing youngster had written “I am a superhero. I save people.” He lived up to those words, not only emulating a superhero, but by actually being one, giving his life to save that of his sister’s.
Rivera was sentenced to 110 years in jail and was told he wouldn’t be eligible for parole for 91 years. Dominick’s family, while devastated, will be proud of his incredible actions until the day they all die.
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