Inventors, although ingenious, can be a risky bunch. A Wikipedia post has even been created solely for those inventors killed in a “direct casualty” of their own creation.
The entry states those in the list met their end in “some manner […] by or related to a product, process, procedure, or other innovation that they invented or designed.”
Here are a few mentioned:
- William Nelson (ca. 1879−1903): Nelson was an employee at General Electric who invented a motorized bicycle but fell off during a test run of the prototype.
- Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier: Died in 1785 and is the first known aircraft crash. Pilâtre de Rozier invented the “Rozier Balloon” that crashed when he was attempting to fly across the English Channel.
- Henry Smolinski: Smolinski invented a flying car — the AVE Mizar — in which he was killed during a test flight in 1973.
- Michael Dacre: Dacre came up with a flying taxi design that would allow for affordable, yet fast travel to nearby cities. He died whiled trying to fly it in 2009.
- William Bullock (1813-1867): Bullock, who invented the web rotary printing press, didn’t die because his machine killed him. The machine being installed in Philadelphia crushed his foot. At that time, he developed gangrene, which resulted in an amputation that killed him.
- Marie Curie (1867-1934): Curie died of aplastic anemia after being exposed to radiation while inventing a process that would isolate radium.
- Li Si (208 BC): Si was the Prime Minister in the Qin dynasty who was killed using a technique he himself created.
- James Heselden (1948-2010): Heselden bought company that manufactured Segways (invented by Dean Kamen) and was killed in an accident on the two-wheeled standing machine.
- Wan Hu: In the 16th century this Chinese official tried to rocket up to space with 47 rockets strapped to his chair. Needless to say, he didn’t make it to space (although, Wikipedia puts it as “neither he nor the chair was ever seen again”, so draw your own conclusions).
See who else is on Wikipedia’s list here. Share any other inventors killed by their own inventions you may be thinking of in the comments.
This story has been updated since its original posting to correct a grammatical error.