25 Ridiculously Haunting Photos Taken Just Before Tragedy Struck

Jay Dawson January 25th 2017 Entertainment
Cameras are everywhere these days. Snapping holiday shots, selfies, and our latest brunch, we hardly step out from behind the lens. Sometimes, though, they’re not just photos of landscapes and bacon. Sometimes, in an unlucky moment, we take a photo of death itself. From explorers to troubled souls and politicians to celebrities, these photos capture the final moments of our world’s courageous and unlucky. These are more chilling than blurry pictures of supposed ghosts – these are genuine ghosts-in-waiting. #17 will blow your mind!

1. Air France Flight 4590

At first glance, there might not seem anything wrong with this picture. After all, there’s plenty of jets which shoot flames on take-off. But this was no ordinary flight. Soon after it took off, the fuel tank of the Concorde exploded and the plane – bound for New York – plowed into a nearby hotel. 114 people lost their lives in this senseless tragedy.

2. Robert "Budd" Dwyer

Highly publicized and watched by millions, the trial of Robert Dwyer soon took a sickening turn for the worse. Midway through, on live television, the Treasurer of Pennsylvania – accused of corruption – pulled a gun out of an envelope and shot himself in the head. The prosecution rests, your honor.

3. The Ebola Virus

We’ve suffered from the hands of a few viruses these past few decades, but few have been captured quite so eloquently as this photo, of nurse Mayinga N’Seka. She was at the battlefront when the very first outbreak of Ebola occurred 1976, and the haunted look in her eyes tells an all-too-clear story. Two days later, she died.

4. The Titanic

One of the most famous disasters of all time, the sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic was a catastrophe in every sense of the word. Many people point to human error and arrogance as the cause of its demise, and when we look at this last photo, taken as it proudly sails into the sunset, we really can get a sense of something about to go horribly wrong.

5. Paul Walker

The world was stunned to hear of the death of Paul Walker, the Fast and Furious star and one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars. His was a life lived to the full, yet cut brutally short by a horrific car accident in California. This photo clearly shows that he, like us, did not suspect that the car he was getting into would be his last.

6. William “Dave” Sanders

William Sanders may not be a household name, but he should be. This powerful image records his valiant efforts in 1999, as the teacher warned hundreds of students of the shocking events unfolding at Columbine High School. Although he was shot twice in the midst of the carnage, his actions saved countless lives and forever earned him a place in our hearts.

7. Carterton Hot Air Balloon

What should have been a scenic balloon flight went horribly wrong for 12 people in New Zealand, 2012. Flying too low, at the moment this photo was snapped the balloon hit high-voltage power lines and killed every soul on board. It may look like some Photoshop magic, but we can assure you that the tragic effects were all too real.

8. Ian Curtis

As the lead singer of British punk band Joy Division, Ian Curtis had a famously troubled life. With depression and a steady diet of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, his star was one that burned too bright, and too fast. Here he is posing with his young daughter, and you can see the haunted look in his face. He knew he was going to die, and senselessly took his own life mere days later.

9. The Station Nightclub, Rhode Island

Just moments before the unthinkable happens, a member of the band looks back and stares catastrophe in the face. On February 20th, 2003, not one of the 100 music lovers who went to The Station Nightclub thought that this gig would be their last. But the fire started by faulty wiring would go on to claim a horrifying number of lives, and this random photo shows where the horror began.

10. Notorious B.I.G.

Megastar rapper Notorious B.I.G. was just one of the victims in a long history of 90s gang violence. Despite the troubled times of the era, he looks relaxed and happy in his final moments – even ironically pointing a finger gun at the camera. Sadly, he was slain only minutes later, and the war continued.

11. The New Jersey Hiker

For all those cuddly-wuddly cat photos that clog up Instagram, there’s one or two animals who seriously don’t want to be photographed. Like this bear, snapped by a hiker in New Jersey. In a terrible twist, the bear pounced on the 22-year-old walker just moments later, killing him instantly.

12. Reynaldo Dagsa

Imagine looking down the barrel of your camera and not realizing that death was lurking in the background. That’s what happened to Filipino politician Reynaldo Dagsa, whose murderer-to-be can be clearly scene behind Dagsa’s family. Dagsa was shot and killed without ever seeing what was coming, and what was meant to be a fun family outing turned into a particularly heinous crime.

13. Ayano Tokumasu

Taking your own life is a dramatic and final deed, and maybe it was the raw power of Niagara Falls that drew Japanese student Ayano Tokumasu to end hers there. Whatever it was, she probably didn’t realize that her desperate act would haunt the frame of this otherwise happy couple. It’s probably a holiday they’d now rather forget.

14. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In his struggles for civil rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. knew that he was beset from all sides and that his live was fraught with danger. Even in this snapshot, taken of the balcony where he was shot the very next day, his courage and determination is clearly evident. Despite everything, he was ready to fight on.

15. Robin Williams

In hindsight, many of us should have known what was coming. Even with a very happy fan, Robin Williams looked gaunt, frail, unhappy. And even though there were plenty of signs, his early death stunned all of us.

16. Robert Overacker

This is the second Niagara Falls death on our list – just in case you need to be reminded that nature can be tamed by no man. Sometimes, it seems, your time is just up. This incredible photo was taken of Robert Overacker, who jet skied over the falls to raise funds for the homeless. A few seconds later, his parachute failed to open and he fell to his death. Niagara claimed another.

17. TransAsia Airways Flight 235

Nobody quite knows what happened to this domestic flight in Taiwan, and how it managed to plummet from midair and into the Keelung River. We don’t know who managed to snap this chilling photo of the disaster, either, but there’s something about the framing that makes it simply transfixing. Somehow, 16 people survived.

18. Tina Watson

Maybe the most haunting part of this photo is the story behind it. Tina Watson was scuba diving on her honeymoon when her new husband, David, left her behind in a strong current. He was charged with manslaughter and the final photo we have of her is here, lying on her side in the background.

19. 1961 U.S. Figure Skating Team

There’s something about plane crashes which make the losses all the more unbearable. Maybe it’s because everyone on them is on holidays or going somewhere new, and they’re cut down in the prime of their happiness. Like in 1961, when all 18 members of the U.S. figure skating team died in a crash en route to Brussels. Look at them – all the hope and joy in their faces.

20. Henry Worsley

Many explorers know the risks they take in search of adventure, but that doesn’t make the moment of failure any easier to swallow. This is a selfie of Lt. Col. Henry Worsley, a military explorer who died only last year while trying to cross Antarctica. The fear on his face is almost impossible to bear. Even worse, he was only 30 miles from the end when he collapsed from dehydration and exhaustion.

21. The Rangoon Bombing

In 1983, three North Korean bombers made an attempt on the life of the then South Korean President, Chun Doo-hwan. Taking place during a diplomatic trip to Rangoon, in Burma, most of the officials in this photograph died as a result of the blast, only a few minutes later. Chun, however, was spared – the first time in history Burma’s notoriously bad traffic has been a blessing.

22. Omagh Car Bomb

Sometimes it’s the person behind the camera that suffers the worst of it. From this photo, both the father and the child survived the Omagh car bomb attack in Ireland, even though the bomb was right next to them, in the red car. Sadly, the photographer wasn’t so lucky.

23. Elisa Lam

The disappearance of Elisa Lam, and the discovery of her body in a hotel water tank in L.A. is one of the world’s strangest mysteries. Stranger still is the CCTV footage that emerged after her death in 2013, where she can be seen talking to herself and behaving erratically in the hotel elevator. The footage didn’t solve anything – only add another riddle to an already baffling case.

24. James Dean

In the tragic world of celebrity fatalities, James Dean will forever be in our hearts as one who was truly and cruelly taken too soon. Like Paul Walker, Dean died at the wheel of a Porsche, pushing it too far and too fast. The most surprising thing, though, is that smoking at a gas station didn’t get him first.

25. John Lennon

This downright creepy shot shows just how close Lennon was to death, only hours before he was actually shot. The man on the right is Mark Chapman, his assassin, who was getting his autograph on a copy of Lennon & Ono’s Double Fantasy album. Note Chapman’s eyes, which seem to be boring into the side of Lennon’s head.


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