Strolling through my Minneapolis, Minnesota neighborhood yesterday, I noticed a 6-foot-long icicle dangling from a neighbor’s gutter and thought, “That looks like it could kill someone.”
It turns out, it could. Falling icicles kill people all of the time — especially in Chicago and Russia. In fact, death by icicle goes back to at least 1776. Here are 10 chilling tales of people killed and injured by falling icicles, ice dams, and roof snow.
1. Boy in Devonshire, England, 1776
The son of a Parish clerk in Devonshire, England, was killed when an icicle fell on him and fractured his skull. His epitaph reads:
“Bless my i,i,i,i,i,i
Here he lies
In a Sad Pickle
Kill’d by an Icicle.”
2. Police Officer in Cassopolis, Michigan, 1903
In 1903, a police officer in Cassopolis, Michigan was killed when a “huge icicle which fell upon him… and cut off the top of his head.” Ouch.
3. Pastor in Michigan, 2001
A 48-year-old pastor, also in Michigan, was clearing icicles from his roof and loosened an icedam, which fell on him and killed him. The official was of death was “bilateral pulmonary thromboemboli due to crushed lower extremity due to falling ice.”
photo credit: justmakeit
4. 74 Muscovites in Moscow, Russia, 2001
In 2001, 74 Muscovites were victims of falling ice, including an 18 year-old boy who was “killed… by a falling shard at his military base.”
5. Donald Booth, Chicago, Illinois, 1994
A “microwave-size” chunk of ice fell off of a Neiman Marcus building in Chicago, killing Donald Booth of Wisconsin. The department store settled with his family for $4.5 million.
6. 5 People in Samara, Russia, 2008
In 2008, at least 5 people were killed by falling icicles in the industrial city of Samara, Russia.
7. Woman on Prospekt Yuriya Gagarina in St. Petersburg, Russia, 2010
Ain St. Petersburg was struck by a falling icicle. She died on the spot. It’s been an icy winter in St. Petersburg and “more than ten people have been injured by icicles and more than 500 have sustained injuries from falling over in streets.”
8. 7-year-old Boy in Springfield, Vermont, year unknown
An icicle hit a 7-year-old boy in the head while he was playing outside. He “suffered traumatic brain injuries,” but survived.
9. 8 Chicagoans in Chicago, Illinois, 2000
At one Chicago hospital, at least 8 people were treated for falling ice-related injuries in 2000.
10. 55-year-old Woman in Stockholm, Sweden, 2010
Proving that wintertime weapons need not be sharp and pointy, a 55-year-old woman in Stockholm, Sweden’s vertebrae were crushed by snow that fell off of a roof this year.
Further Reading on Falling Icicles
- Death Served Up Cold
- Beware Dangerous Winter Icicles
- Saving the world from falling icicles
- Death by icicle
So if you live in a cold climate — especially one in Russia or the midwestern United States — beware of roof overhangs with seemingly innocuous icicles. It only takes one falling icicle or ice dam to do serious damage.