There are many highly unlikely ways to die, and unless you count the increasingly convoluted Rube Goldberg deathtraps of the Final Destination franchise, a meteorite strike is doubtlessly at the top of the list. Imagine a situation where you’re just walking down the street, minding your own business. Then, suddenly, a rock that has traveled throughout the galaxy in the vastness of space hits you right in the face. Somehow, it has overcome the near-infinitely long odds of first hitting our solar system, then targeting our constantly moving planet, and finally hitting the exact continent, country, city and street where your corporeal form happens to walk, whistling under your breath and idly thinking about Pokemon.
Does that sound unbelievable? We think so, too. Good thing, then, that such an unlikely event has never actually happened to anyone in history … except, that is, for the guy we’re now going to tell you about. Here’s the truth about the first ever death caused by a meteorite.
The first known meteorite victim had the worst luck ever
Per Michele Debczak of Mental Floss, recently discovered documents from the Turkish state archives indicate that the first and only known meteorite strike fatality happened in 1888, in what we now know as Iraq. The incident was actually somewhat more horrifying than the scenario we just described, because instead of a single meteorite, there were several. The meteorite shower destroyed fields and generally caused a big enough problem to warrant a mention in, well, the Turkish state archives. And yes, one of the meteorites actually killed a man and paralyzed another one.
The discovery is significant because the world foolishly used to think that meteorites have never killed anyone. In fact, apart from these poor 1888 dudes, the only known person who has had an unwilling rendezvous with a falling space rock was in 1954. According to National Geographic, 34-year-old Ann Hodges was napping in her Sylacauga, Alabama home when suddenly, a meteorite came through the roof, bounced off a radio, and hit her in the thigh. Miraculously, she survived with bruising.
As astronomer Michael Reynolds describes the odds of Hodges getting hit by the meteorite, “You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time.” In the case of the 1888 meteorite that managed to kill one person and paralyze another, you’d probably have to throw a few supervolcanoes and Sharknados in the mix.
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