On a Cliff. With a Gun. With a Bull. And Other Fatal Selfies.

Selfies cause death more and more often. Bird In Flight researched cases of fatal selfies, and wrote a memo for those lovers of mobile photography who don’t want to die.
Cover photo: Rafa Rivas / AFP / East News

The Independent writes that people die from selfies more often than from shark bites: the jaws have 8 victims a year, and camera phones have 12. In some countries they already started to take this problem seriously: in Russia they launched a ‘Safe Selfie’ campaign, in Disney theme parks and some big museums they have banned selfie sticks, and Mumbai authorities have drawn up a list of 15 places ‘prohibited for selfies’. It happened after the latest accident, when a young girl tried to take a selfie at the shore of the Arabian Sea, fell into the water and drowned. Bird In Flight studied other similar cases and wrote a memo for those who like impressive photos.

1. Don’t mistake a trigger for a shutter release.

At a party 21-year-old Oscar Otero Aguilar from Mexico borrowed a gun from a friend. Trying to make an impressive selfie with the gun, he pulled the trigger by mistake. Oscar died on the way to the hospital.


Something similar happened last year to a young woman from Moscow. She found a guard’s gun in the office and wanted to take a picture, but shot herself in the temple by mistake. The doctors managed to save her.

A group of men who wanted to take a selfie with a hand grenade in Ural Mountains last June were less lucky:after they pulled the pin out, they had enough time to take a picture, but not enough time to throw the grenade away.

2. Look Where You Are Going

Ideal selfie angle with Taj Mahal in the background cost Hideto Ueda (66) from Japan his life. He failed to notice a stair, and slipped and fell, which turned fatal.

Kristi Kafcaloudis from Melbourne died on the Norwegian 700m-high rock Trolltunga above Ringedalsvatnet Lake, while on a trip there with two friends last autumn. She lost her balance and fell into the abyss, trying to take a selfie at the edge of a cliff.

A married couple from Poland died in similar circumstances in 2014. They came to enjoy the view from Cabo da Roca, which is the most Western point of Eurasia, with their two children. Trying to make a family selfie as picturesque as possible, the adults fell from a 80m cliff.

3. Don’t Stand near an Angry Bull

In August 2015, during the bull run in the Spanish town of Villaseca de la Sagra David González Lopez, 32, climbed over the fence and found himself in a dangerous zone. While he was trying to capture the fight of two bulls behind his back, a third bull approached him. The bull hooked Lopez with his horn, threw him in the air and kept throwing him till the rescue team arrived. In the hospital the doctors transfused Lopez with two liters of blood, but couldn’t save him.

Three cases out of the five were very similar: people approached the animal and turned their back to it while trying to take a perfect photo together.

In 2015, there were five registered buffalo attacks on wild nature lovers in Yellowstone National Park. Three cases out of the five were very similar: people approached the animal and turned their back to it while trying to take a perfect photo together. Each attack resulted in serious injuries, the victims were hospitalized.

4. Don’t Climb Up High

A 17-year old from St. Petersburg climbed up high to take an impressive photo more than once or twice. The last peak she conquered was the support of a railway bridge. The young woman took a selfie at 10m height, her foot slipped, and as she was falling she grabbed onto a live wire.


Something similar happened to a 17-year-old schoolgirl from the Philippines, Christine Rosello. During recess the girl wanted to take a selfie on a 10m high ladder, which was leaning on the wall. The injuries she had were incompatible with life.

A 15-year-old teenager from Grozny was crushed by a concrete support, which fell under his weight. As in other similar cases, he was trying to climb higher up to take a selfie.

5. Don’t Try Too Hard to Impress

Hashtag #SelfieOlympics, which was trending in the selfie world in early 2015, was fatal for Oscar Reyes, 18. The teen became famous on Facebook, when he hung from the bathroom door handle in a Spongebob Squarepants costume. Inspired by his success, he tried to take an even more impressive shot, but slipped and broke his head on a toilet, and died before the ambulance came.


6. Don’t Get Distracted When Behind the Wheel

Courtney Sanford, 32, died when her car hit a truck. The probable cause of the accident was the young woman’s wish to share her mood there and then: several seconds before her death she posted a selfie on Facebook and wrote how happy she was when listening to Happy by Pharrell Williams.

A selfie supposedly caused the crash of a light plane with two people on board near Denver, USA, in 2014. A GoPro camera found in the debris, which belonged to the pilot Amritpal Singh, had the videos of previous flights. The videos showed the young man being constantly distracted from piloting the aircraft by taking selfies of himself behind the wheel.


7. Don’t Take Selfies at War

A selfie, which one of the ISIS extremists took with the military base in the background, became a tip for the US Air Force. According to, 22 hours after the selfie was discovered, US Air Force destroyed the base with three bombs.

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