Urban Legends That Actually Happened Oct 14, 2015 1:33:27 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Oct 14, 2015 1:33:27 GMT -5
Urban Legends That Actually Happened
Not all Urban Legends are legends, some have actually happened and could happen again:
Toxic Lady. Legend: A patient is admitted to the ER, and when doctors take a sample of her blood, noxious fumes pour out, poisoning them. Reality: In 1994, a 31-year-old woman named Gloria Ramirez in the late stages of cervical cancer was brought to the ER at Riverside General Hospital in Riverside, California. Several nurses handled a vial of her blood as they were attempting to determine the nature of Ramirez’s ailment and each nurse, in turn, became light-headed and nauseated. In all, 23 hospital staff members got sick and five were hospitalized after coming into contact with Ramirez, who died shortly thereafter.
Kidney Ice Bath. Legend: You know this one. You wake up in an ice bath and one of your kidneys is gone. Reality: A Chinese woman named Xu Xiuying believes she was conned into having surgery for colon cancer – which she didn’t actually have – and one of her kidneys was taken by unscrupulous doctors. The two hospitals where the surgeries took place accepted no responsibility, however, her medical records revealed she had two kidneys in 2006 and just one after her “colon cancer” surgery.
Self-Decapitation Device. Legend: A guy wants to kill himself, so he rigs a device that will allow him to quickly and cleanly remove his head. Reality: In 2011, a man in Yorktown, Virginia, got into his car with a wire around his neck and the other end tied to a tree. He then stepped on the gas and was decapitated. The craziest part? The police and fire department had already been notified and watched him behead himself.
Riding Around with Corpse in Car. Legend: Your pal dies and you don’t notice because you assume he’s as drunk as you are. Reality: In 2011, Robert Young and Mark Rubinson of Denver, Colorado, went to pick up their pal Jeffrey Jarrett for a night of drinking and found him suuuuuper drunk at his home. Not wanting him to miss any potential fun, they loaded him into the back seat of their car and proceeded to have a night on the town. It turned out their friend in the backseat had been dead for hours, but they were too drunk to realize it.
Corpse in the Pool. Legend: There’s a corpse in the pool and no one notices it for a while. Reality: In July 2011, the body of Marie Joseph, a missing woman, turned up in a community pool in Fall River, Massachusetts. It was determined she had been there for three days and no one noticed! The pool was quite cloudy and the deep end was 12-feet-deep, but that still doesn’t totally explain how all the lifeguards, a health inspector and dozens of swimmers managed to miss the corpse at the bottom of the pool.
Haunted House Mummy. Legend: The mummy in a haunted house attraction turns out to be an actual dead body. Reality: An Oklahoma bandit named Elmer McCurdy was mummified when he died in 1911 and his corpse was featured on the traveling carnival circuit from the 1920s through the 1960s. In 1976, his remains were finally laid to rest in a cemetery.
Waking Up in the Morgue. Legend: You wake up from what you thought was a deep sleep to find yourself zipped inside a body bag inside a cold drawer in the morgue. Reality: In 2011, Maria de Jesus Arroyo was declared dead after a heart attack at White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles. When the funeral home came to pick up her corpse, they discovered her body bag partially unzipped and the body covered in cuts and bruises. Turns out she hadn’t been dead when the hospital staff slid her inside the morgue drawer, however, she froze to death before the undertakers arrived.
Runaway Gurney. Legend: A patient in a hospital dies when the gurney he’s on rolls away and tips over. Reality: In 1991 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, 76-year-old Edward Juchniewicz was being transported from a nursing home to a hospital when the ambulance attendants left his gurney unattended for a moment. The gurney rolled away and fell, injuring the man, who ultimately died of his injuries.
Decapitation by Elevator. Legend: A person’s body part – leg, arm, or even head – gets stuck in an elevator door and as the elevator moves, he or she is torn apart. Reality: In 2003, Dr. Hitoshi Nikaidoh, a surgical resident at Christus St. Joseph Hospital in Houston, entered an elevator just as the doors were closing and his head got stuck. The elevator began to ascend, leaving Dr. Nikaidoh’s body on the previous floor. He was decapitated and the woman inside the elevator was trapped with the head until firefighters arrived.
Dead Body as Halloween Decoration. Legend: A “dead body” hanging from a tree at Halloween is actually a real corpse. Reality: On October 26, 2005, a 42-year-old woman hanged herself from a tree in Frederica, Delaware, and no one noticed for several hours because it was Halloween and everyone assumed the hanging body was merely a decoration.
Black Water. Legend: A family moves into a new house and all the water is black and has a foul taste and smell and it turns out there’s a decomposing corpse in their water tank. Reality: In February 2013, the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles received reports of off-color water from guests. When employees checked the water tank, they discovered the corpse of Laam Hoji, a woman who had been missing approximately three weeks.
Rats in the Toilet Bowl. Legend: You stagger into the bathroom in the dark, position yourself on the toilet and hear splashing beneath you. You turn on the light and there’s a rat inside the bowl. Reality: In 1999 in Petersburg, Virginia, a woman was bitten on the behind by a rat in the toilet and in Seattle, the problem is prevalent enough that officials have advised people on what they should do if they encounter rats in their toilet.
Corpse in Hoarder’s House. Legend: The house of a hoarder is being cleaned out and a body is discovered, but there’s so much junk, no realizes it’s real. Reality: In 2014, Israel Lopez and Adam Hines, two house cleaners in Tampa, Florida, disposed of a human body in a dump after they discovered it while cleaning out the house of a longtime shut-in. They didn’t realize the body was actually a corpse and not some weird prank.
Live Burial. Legend: Someone is buried alive and manages to claw their way out of the grave, terrifying any teens who might be attempting to spend the night in the graveyard. Reality: In 2011, a Polish man buried his fiancée alive in a cardboard box. The woman managed to claw her way out of the grave, still wearing the engagement ring he’d given her.
Skeleton in the Walls. Legend: A construction crew begins a renovation project and discovers the walls of the building contain human remains. Reality: In 2011, a construction crew working on a bank building found the bones of a man who had been missing since 1984. He was most likely trying to rob when he became trapped in the chimney where he died.
Waking Up During Surgery. Legend: A patient is under general anesthesia for surgery, but wakes up during the procedure. Unable to move or speak, the patient sees, hears and feels everything that’s happening. Reality: The best estimates seem to suggest this happens in around two of every 1000 surgeries, though it's hard to obtain statistics. Many anesthesiologists aren’t even aware a patient might be “awake” during surgery.
Corpse under the Bed. Legend: A traveler checks into a hotel (or more likely, a motel) and notices a foul odor in the room. When hotel staff is alerted, the room is checked and a decomposing corpse is discovered under the bed, or sometimes inside the mattress or. Reality: This has actually happened multiple times: North Bergen, N.J. (1982), Mineola, N.Y. (1988), Alexandria, Va. (1989), Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (1994), Miami, Fla. (1994), Pasadena, Calif. (1996), Atlantic City, N.J. (1999), Kansas City, Mo. (2003), Memphis, Tenn. (2010), Hickory, N.C. (2013), and the list goes on.
Body in the Carpet. Legend: To dispose of a body, a killer rolls up the corpse in a large area rug and puts it out with the trash. Reality: In 1984, three Columbia University students saw a rolled-up, discarded rug waiting to be picked up by sanitation workers. They took it home, unrolled it and found a body inside. The real question here is: just how much did they think a rug should weigh?
Human Doll Collector. Legend: A creepy “collector” of human parts has a stash in his basement of arms, legs and other body parts. Reality: A Russian man stole at least 29 corpses and hid them in his basement, creating “dolls” from the different body parts and placing blonde wigs on their heads.
Frozen Alive. Legend: A person spends too long in a cold place, either the outdoors or even a walk-in refrigerator, and freezes, seemingly to death. But once they thaw out, they’re fine. Reality: In 1981, a woman named Jean Hilliard was pronounced dead after being discovered in -22-degree weather following an automobile accident in northwestern Minnesota. Her skin was too hard to pierce with a hypodermic needle and her temperature was so low it didn't even register on a thermometer. Yet she survived.
Eggs Hatch in Ear. Legend: Someone returns from a trip to an exotic locale with bugs in their ear, skin, or mouth. Reality: In 2013, Rochelle Harris returned to her home in the UK after a trip to Peru. She had mysterious head pain and fluid draining from her ear and she was hearing strange noises that no one else could hear. When she saw a doctor, it turned out when she’d walked through a cloud of flies, they’d laid eggs in her ear, which hatched into maggots. The noises were the maggots squirming around in her ear cavity.
Death by Escalator. Legend: You can be sucked down into an escalator if your shoelace gets caught. Reality: In 2015, a Chinese woman was pulled into the machinery of an escalator when the metal plate at the top suddenly gave way. She managed to shove her young son to safety, but she died as a result of the injuries she sustained. More recently, on October 15, 2018, 48-year-old Carlos Alvarez strangled to death when his T-shirt got caught in the MTA escalator at the Intervale Station in The Bronx.
The Bogeyman Will Get You. Legend: A shadowy figure kidnaps and murders children, usually from their own beds. Reality: Okay, so he doesn’t hide under your bed or in your closet – but in the 1970s and 80s, a rash of child murders hit Staten Island. The culprit was referred to as “Cropsey” and became something of a legend in those parts. A former employee at a nearby mental institution became the prime suspect in the murders and though he was never charged with any of them, he is currently serving a life sentence for a different murder – so it's likely he committed the Cropsey murders as well.
The Bunny Man. Legend: An escaped mental patient catches and guts bunny rabbits and hangs them from a bridge. Then he takes to grabbing and gutting thrill-seeking teenagers who hang out at the bridge at night trying to catch a glimpse of the illusive Bunny Man. Reality: On October 9, 1970, a hatchet-wielding man in a rabbit costume attacked a young couple in Fairfax County, Virginia. Ten days later, a security guard was threatened by the man. The madman was never caught.
Exploding Whale. Legend: A dead whale washes up on the beach and begins to rot. The town, not knowing what to do with a decomposing whale, fills it with explosives and blows it up. Reality: This really happened in Oregon in the 1970s. Authorities realized soon after exploding the whale that it was a bad idea because they then had to deal with chunks of stinking whale flesh all over the beach.
Man with No Face. Legend: A ghostly man with no face walks the road at night. Reality: An actual man, Raymond Robinson, inspired this legend. He was badly injured in an electrical accident as a child and as a result, had almost no face to speak of. He would often take walks at night so people wouldn’t be frightened by his horrifying appearance.
Stuck in Pool Drain. Legend: Someone sticks a finger, hand, or other part of their body into the pool drain and it gets stuck. Reality: A 33-year-old Scotsman named Robert Cheauvront saw the swirling drain in the pool and thought it would be a good idea to stick his penis in there. It was not and it took paramedics more than an hour to free him.
Lover’s Lane Killer. Legend: A teenage couple is “necking” in a secluded area when they hear something outside the car. The boy goes out to check and the girl hears him scraping against the car. She then realizes that it’s not the boy at all – it’s a murderer who has already killed her boyfriend – and she’s next. Reality: There were a series of murders in 1946 in Texarkana, Texas, that may have inspired this long-lived urban legend. Eight people, five of whom died, were attacked by an assailant known as the “Phantom Killer.” The first couple was attacked while making out in a car on a lover’s lane. The killer was never identified.
Hand Sanitizer Drunk. Legend: Hand sanitizers like Purell contain alcohol, which is how it kills germs on your hands. Alarmist news reports have claimed teens use the nasty-tasting goo to get drunk (because they can’t legally purchase liquor). Reality: In 2007, a 4-year-old Oklahoma City girl swallowed a handful of hand sanitizer and actually became so intoxicated she had to be taken to the hospital.
The Borrowed Video Camera. Legend: Someone lends their video camera to a friend and when the friend watches the tape inside, discovers something shocking – usually a sex tape. Reality: In 1994, a British man named Derek Jeffrey loaned his video recorder to a friend so the friend could tape his wedding. At the reception, the guests watched the tape of the ceremony, but after it ended, were treated to a tape of Jeffrey having sex with a bull pit bull named Ronnie. Jeffrey claimed the tape was “trick photography,” but ended up being charged with bestiality.
Tug-of-War Tragedy. Legend: Playing tug-of-war can result in the loss of fingers or arms when the rope becomes tangled in your hands. Reality: In 2013, two California teenagers playing a game of tug-of-war during their Homecoming celebration each lost some fingers. They’re not the only ones, though – multiple stories like this exist, including one from Taiwan in which two men had their arms torn off!
The Uninvited Guest. Legend: A person hides somewhere in your house – a closet, the basement, the attic – and lives there without you realizing it. You sometimes hear noises, but assume they’re a pet or the wind – or a ghost. Reality: In 2008, a Japanese man discovered that a homeless woman had been living in one of his closets for a year without his knowledge. He was tipped off when his food started disappearing and installed security cameras to catch the culprit. More recently, in February 2019, a student at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro thought her off-campus apartment was haunted until she discovered Andrew Clyde Swofford, a 30-year-old man, had been living in her walk-in closet.
Hooker’s Father. Legend: Also seen on the cult classic TV show Twin Peaks, this legend is every father’s worst nightmare: when the hooker he requests arrives at his hotel room, she turns out to be his daughter. Reality: In 2002, an Israeli businessman ordered a call girl at the Eilat Resort and when he opened the door, there stood his daughter. His wife promptly filed for divorce.
Lightning Runs Telephone Line. Legend: You shouldn’t talk on the phone during a thunderstorm because the lightning can travel through the phone lines and kill you. Reality: This actually happens. In 2001, a Boy Scout was talking to his mother when lightning hit the telephone pole nearby and burned his arm up to the elbow. However, it only happens with land lines, so if you have a cell phone, you don’t have to worry about lightning – you should worry about a lot of other things such as brain cancer, running off the road, walking into traffic, etc., etc., but you aren’t likely to be killed by lightning.
Sources: OffBeat; Jake Rossen, MentalFloss, "'Ghost' Turns out to Be Flesh and Blood Intruder"; October 18, 2018; "Premature Burial in America," WhatLiesBeyond, October 27, 2018; Tina Moore and Ben Feuerhead, The New York Post, October 14, 2018; and Wendy Grossman, Houston Press, October 9, 2003.