List Of Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions



William Nelson (ca. 1879−1903) from the news clip above, a General Electric employee, invented a new way to motorize bicycles. He then fell off his prototype bike during a test run and died.



Ismail Ibn Hammad Aljawhari (died ca. 1003–1010), a Muslim Kazakh Turkic scholar from Farab, attempted to fly using two wooden wings and a rope. He leapt from the roof of a mosque in Nijabur and flew for some time before eventually falling to his death.


Otto Lilienthal (1848–1896) died the day after crashing one of his hang gliders.


Franz Reichelt (1879–1912), a tailor, fell to his death off the first deck of the Eiffel Tower while testing his invention, the coat parachute. It was his first ever attempt with the parachute and he had told the authorities in advance he would test it first with a dummy.


Aurel Vlaicu (1882–1913) died when his self-constructed airplane, Vlaicu II, failed him during an attempt to cross the Carpathian Mountains by air.
Michael Dacre (died 2009, age 53) died after testing his flying taxi device designed to accommodate fast and affordable travel among nearby cities.



Marie Curie (1867–1934) invented the process to isolate radium after co-discovering the radioactive elements radium and polonium. She died of aplastic anemia  as a result of prolonged exposure to ionizing radiation emanating from her research materials. Radiation’s dangers were not yet well understood at the time.


Thomas Midgley, Jr.. (1889–1944) was an American engineer and chemist who contracted polio at age 51, leaving him severely disabled. He devised an elaborate system of strings and pulleys to help others lift him from bed. This system was the eventual cause of his death when he was accidentally entangled in the ropes of this device and died of strangulation at the age of 55.



Valerian Abakovsky (1895–1921) constructed the aerowagon, an experimental high-speed railcar fitted with an aircraft engine and propeller traction; it was intended to carry Soviet officials. On July 24, 1921, a group of communists led by Fyodor Sergeyev  took the aerowagon from Moscow to the Tula collieries to test it, with Abakovsky also on board. They successfully arrived in Tula, but on the return route to Moscow the aerowagon derailed at high speed, killing everyone on board, namely Oskar Heilbrich, John William Hewlett, Fyodor Sergeyev (Artyom), Otto Strupat, John Freeman, and Abakovsky himself (at the age of 25); all six were buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.


William Bullock (1813–1867) invented the web rotary printing press.  Several years after its invention, his foot was crushed while installing a new machine in Philadelphia. The crushed foot developed gangrene and Bullock died during the amputation

Popular myths

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (1738–1814) While he did not invent the guillotine, his name became an eponym for it. Rumors circulated that he died by the machine, but historical references show that he died of natural causes in 1814.

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