Pictures speak a thousand words. Yes, that’s true. But there are a few pictures that can actually leave you speechless. Some such photos capture the last moments before something terrible happens. And you would be amazed to see how unintentional and accidental these photos are. We bring to you 12 such photos taken right before something bad happened.
1. Photo taken split seconds before PSA 182 collided with a private airline and killed all 135 people on board and seven on the ground.
On Monday, the morning of 25 September 1978, a Boeing 727-214 commercial airplane, PSA flight 182, collided mid-air with a private aircraft, a Cessna 172. It became one of the deadliest aircraft disasters in California with a death toll of 144.
PSA 182 had 135 passengers on board, and the crash also killed seven people on the ground including two children. Both the pilots of the private aircraft were killed on impact. Nine people on the ground were injured severely, and 22 homes were destroyed or damaged.
The reason for the crash was the pilots of PSA182 were unable to see the private aircraft as it was just below them, and it’s color blended with the color of the houses below. The collision happened at about 2,600 feet from the ground.
The picture above was taken by photographer Hans Wendt of the San Diego County Public Relations Office who was attending an outdoor event. He was able to capture two photographs of the aircraft after the collision, with one depicting its right wing burning. The San Diego Union-Tribune was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for its coverage of the crash.(source)
2. On 28 January 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded during its flight killing all crew members. This photo of the crew, smiling at the camera, was taken just before the explosion.
When the tenth flight of space shuttle Challenger took off, as part of the NASA shuttle orbiter mission, it exploded within 73 seconds of taking off. All seven crew members, including five astronauts and two payload specialists, were killed. The explosion happened because the o-ring seal on the spacecraft’s solid rocket booster failed during take-off. The o-ring was actually not designed for cold temperatures.
The photos above of the crew were taken just before they were about to board the spacecraft.(source)
3. Ninety-six football fans lost their lives at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. This photo was taken when the disaster was just about to happen.
Known as the “Hillsborough Disaster,” the 1989 semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest was the site of a disastrous human crush at the stadium. Fatal errors by the management were responsible for the disaster.
It started when hundreds of Liverpool fans stormed towards the stands allocated to them. Seeing the crowd, a standing police officer contacted the control room to delay the game in order to ensure the safety of the fans. The request was declined and more fans kept pouring into the stadium. If that was not enough, David Duckenfield, the police chief in charge of the match, ordered Exit Gate C to be opened. This led to more fans climbing into the stadium which was already overcrowded. With people piling up on the stands, the people who were already in were pushed up hard against the perimeter fencing. Many tried to desperately escape by climbing onto the pens, but many of them were crushed by the massive human force that was building up behind them. In moments, a football field turned into a killing field.
Out of the 96 people who were fatally injured, only 14 of them could make it to the hospital. All 96 of them lost their lives that day, with the youngest one being the 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, cousin of Steven Gerrard, who later went on to become Liverpool F.C.’s captain. The photos above depict the last moments of outcry before many succumbed to their deaths.(source)
4. This is a 1942 photo of a woman jumping to her death from the eighth floor of the Genesee Hotel.
On 8 May 1942, Russel Sorgi, a photographer at the Buffalo Courier-Express, was returning home from the office. He decided to take a different route that day. Minutes later, he noticed a police car sweeping right past him. He decided to follow it sensing an opportunity.
He finally reached the Genesee Hotel where a woman was sitting on the edge of the window outside a room on the eighth floor. It looked like she was about to jump. Sorgi recalled, “I snatched my camera from the car and took two quick shots as seemed to hesitate . . . As quickly as possible I shoved the exposed film into the case and reached for a fresh holder. I no sooner had pulled the slide out and got set for another shot than she waved to the crowd below and pushed herself into space. Screams and shouts burst from the horrified onlookers as her body plummeted toward the street. I took a firm grip on myself, waited until the woman passed the second or third story, and then shot.” The photo above was the one captured by Sorgi.
Later, the New York Times reported that the woman was Mary Miller who had committed suicide.(source)
5. Rapper Jadiel took this last selfie while riding his motorcycle and uploaded it to Instagram before his death.
Ramon Gonzalez, commonly known as Jadiel, was an American rapper. He gained popularity on songs like Si Tu No Estas Aqui, Fashion Girl, and Sol y Arena. On May 10, 2014, Jadiel was riding his bike when he decided to post a selfie to Instagram. He was wearing his helmet as well his face protector in the photo. Hours later, on the same day, Jadiel lost control of his bike and hit a car going in the opposite direction. The caption of his last Instagram selfie, that you can see above, was “On the road in New York.”(source)
6. This photo was captured moments before a forest fire which came to be known as the “Yarnell Hill Fire.” It took the life of 19 firefighters who were working to contain the fire.
The Yarnell Hill Fire is considered as the third deadliest wildfire, and also the sixth deadliest disaster for firefighters, in the history of US. The fire broke out on 28 June 2013. Two days later, the fire took the lives of 19 firefighters of the 20-man crew. The only survivor was 21-year-old Brendan McDonough who was serving as the lookout during that time.
High-velocity winds and a long-term drought have been identified as the cause for the fast spread of the fire. By 1 July 2013, the fire spread across 8,300 acres, and the nearby areas had to be evacuated. It was only on 10 July 2013 that the fire was declared to be 100% contained.
The photo above was taken just before the fire took the lives of the 19 firefighters.(source)
7. A Filipino politician captured his murderer in this photo before being shot and killed.
A Filipino politician, Reynaldo Dagsa, perfectly captured his murderer just before he was shot and killed. Dagsa was celebrating New Year’s Day with his family and went ahead to take a picture of his wife and kids. Just then, a man shot him in the head. In the picture, it is clearly visible that the man is pointing a gun at Dagsa.
The shooter was identified as Arnel Buenaflor, a member of the Pasaway Gang. Apparently, people associated with Dagsa were involved in a shootout with the gang months earlier. The murder of Dagsa was done for revenge.(source)
8. Andrey Retrovsky accidentally fell from a nine-story building trying to post the perfect Instagram photo. This is what his last photo looked like just before he fell to his death.
Deaths from trying to take the perfect selfie or the perfect photo have haunted the world for quite some time now. But nothing can be more disheartening than the death of a 17-year old boy who lost his life trying to get the perfect picture to post on Instagram.
The above photo is the last photo of Andrey Retrovsky who was trying to get a shot that looked like he was falling from a building. Unfortunately, he actually fell. Even though he was secured with a rope, it was unable to hold him once he started falling.
Reports say that he didn’t die immediately but succumbed to his injuries a few hours later.(source)
9. Robert Overacker was raising awareness for charity by planning to jet ski over Niagara Falls and deploy a parachute to land safely. But somehow, his plan failed, and this picture captured the last seconds of his life before he drowned in the water.
Robert Overacker was a stuntman from California. On October 2, 1995, he planned to jet ski over Niagara Falls, deploy a parachute, and safely land on the other side. He had been planning this stunt for years and attempted twice before but was talked out of it by his family. But on 2 October 1995, he finally decided to go ahead with it.
Overacker had specially designed parachutes with thrusters that were supposed to deploy as soon as he let go of the jet ski. But something went wrong and the parachute didn’t open. Overacker fell to his death in Niagara Falls. Below is a video that captured his stunt:
10. A 14-year-old boy fell to his death on takeoff from Sydney Airport after hiding in a wheel well. An amateur cameraman was testing out his camera when he accidentally captured the fall.
Keith Sapsford, a 14-year-old boy, was hiding on the wheel well of a plane owned by Japanese Airlines. Apparently, he was attempting a stow away on the plane. As the plane took off, Keith was thrown out of the wheel well as the plane changed pitch.
An amateur Australian photographer, John Gilpin, was taking photos of planes taking off when he accidentally got a shot of Keith’s fall. Gilpin didn’t know any of this until he developed his film a week later. The photo was first seen in the Life magazine.(source)
11. A photographer was taking snaps of air pollution on the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge when his camera lens captured a man committing suicide. Seconds later, a woman jumped in.
An unnamed reporter was working on the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge taking photos of the air pollution that had been blanketing the bridge when his camera captured something he never expected to shoot. He didn’t realize that when he was concentrating on the settings of his camera, he accidentally captured a man jumping to his death from the bridge.
The reporter later recalled, “To be honest I didn’t even see the first person jump because I was concentrating so much on the camera settings, and I didn’t realize at first that I had snapped the man jumping to his death.” It was only when people started screaming that someone had jumped that the reporter looked up and heard the man hit the waters. Seconds later, a woman jumped from the exact same spot. Above is a photograph taken by the reporter.(source)
12. Paul Walker, moments before his car smashed into a pole and took his life.
None of us can forget the day we got the news that Paul Walker was no more. Moments before his ghastly death, Paul Walker was photographed leaving a charity event with his friend and financial advisor Roger Rodas in a red Porsche. Less than a minute later, their car hit a post and burst into flames claiming the beloved actor’s and his friend’s life. These photos depict his last moments.(source)