One more thing to be scared of: coconuts kill


A study, Injuries Due to Falling Coconuts, was published in the November 1984 issue of the Journal of Trauma. It was by Dr Peter Barss, a Canadian. He had recently relocated to Papua New Guinea, where he discovered that 2.5 percent of admissions to the local hospital were the result of people being struck by falling coconuts. Death was rare but not unknown: coconuts kill about 150 people a year worldwide, a chance of one in 250 million. If you were freaked out by Jaws,, bear in mind that this is 25 times as likely as a shark attack.

Barss explained that coconuts weigh, on average, 4.4 pounds. Palm trees can grow as high as 98 feet, about as much as a 10-storey building. When a coconut falls and hits someone’s head, it will be travelling at 50mph and exerting a force of one ton, so “severe head injuries sometimes occur.” When coconuts kill, victims are usually lying beneath a palm tree – they never awoke from their siesta. This is because the head is in direct contact with the ground, leaving zero braking distance.

One example of death by coconut was 69-year-old Jose Abelino Ramirez of Colombia in 2010. A coconut descended upon him from a 39-foot palm tree as he sat on his rocking chair as he did every afternoon.

Barss also completed studies into injuries caused by pigs, grass skirt burns and needle fish. These were published in the Medical Journal of Australia and the Lancet.

Sure, coconuts kill, but this is not the unlikeliest way that death can strike from above. In 455BCE, Aeschylus, a playwright known as the father of Greek tragedy, perished after an eagle dropped a tortoise upon him, allegedly when he was staying outdoors after it was prophesied that he would be killed by a falling object. The life of Diane Durre of Nebraska was snuffed out by a falling Taco Bell sign in 2009. In 2014, a schoolboy was killed by a sacrificial goat that fell from a roof in Diyarbakir, south-eastern Turkey.

Sources: (1) The Guardian

About the Author Timothy Chilman

Timothy Chilman used to work in IT. Once, in Sydney, he was turned down for a job because he was “too flamboyant” (“Someone who wears green tartan suspenders to a job interview probably isn’t going to fit in here”). Timothy then became an English teacher. University students in Bangkok complained that he was “too enthusiastic” and company students in Prague complained that he was “too theatrical.”

Leave a Comment: