Wedding days are supposed to mark the beginning of a new shared life for marrying couples. But sometimes, wedding days mark the end of life. In this dark and gripping list, we explore disturbing accounts of “Till death do us apart” come early in shocking cases of freak accident involvement and sometimes, shocking or even inexplicable homicide. The statistical frequency of wedding day tragedy seems to be higher than one might have thought.
10. Bride: Death on the Dance Floor
New York-born bride Kim Sjostrom was 36-years-old when she married her husband of Greek heritage, Teddy Efkarpides, in Florida. However, her wedding ceremony proved to be the end of her incredibly brief marriage when she collapsed dead at her wedding. Her wedding was themed to emulate the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding but ended tragically during their first dance shortly after their exchange of vows. 43-year-old Efkarpides was a carpenter and veteran of the Naval Service who assumed his new wife was suffering from diabetes-related blood sugar fluctuations but the situation was far more serious than he imagined.
Shortly after her symptoms appeared, Sjostrom collapsed and died while dancing with her husband to a Greek song and could not be resuscitated. The cause of death was acute heart failure that had come to a head during the course of the wedding. The excitement and exercise associated with the event makes the tragedy more comprehensible but all in all, the death was a shocking coincidence. Of note, Sjostrom had been an actual “Poster Child” for juvenile diabetes at a younger age before her eventual death from heart disease.
9. Bride: Whirlybird Wedding Crash
Arriving at one’s wedding in style is a common tradition, but Brazilian bride Rosemere do Nascimento Silva wanted to surprise her husband-to-be, Udirley Damasceno, by taking dramatic entrances to the next level by flying right into her wedding ceremony location, literally. Damasceno had arranged to come to her Sao Paulo area wedding by landing at the wedding venue in a helicopter, complete with an onboard photographer to document their whirlybird wedding arrival.
Instead of having a spectacular wedding, Damasceno was left at the alter when he got the news that unbeknownst to him, his bride-to-be had been riding in the helicopter to their wedding but it had just crashed, killing her and all others onboard. Recovered video footage taken by the deceased photographer showed the panicked moments that preceded the fatal impact. The helicopter crashed just about mile from where the wedding was to be held in a forested area. Just before the crash, turbulence was encountered, followed by extensive shaking. The pilot was heard to tell the bride and photographer to be calm just before the helicopter fell into the trees in the recording, which eerily continued after impact.
8. Bride & Groom: A Head on Tragedy
It may be said that lightning never strikes twice, but two couples (one of them celebrating their wedding day) were unlucky enough to die together in a freak car crash. In July 2016, an older yet newly married English couple died right on their wedding day when the car they were riding in with another couple, with whom they were friends, crossed the highway center line in North Yorkshire, England. Investigations into the wedding day crash found that the Lithuanian driver of a 38-ton truck had done no wrong but the car occupied by the newlywed couple and additional couple had crossed over significantly into the oncoming lane of traffic.
The vehicle’s speed was found to be reasonable and the only cause of the accident was the unexplained crossing into the wrong lane. 58-year-old Paul Dockerty and Susan, his new bride, were killed in the violent impact, which flipped the car while driver Derek Green, 63, and his wife Joy also perished in the collision. The cause of the crash is impossible to know, but being killed on the first day of marriage by poor driving is certainly a shocking lesson on the need for attentive driving.
7. Bride: A Dream of Death
Nana Mkhize of South Africa had waited 17 years for her partner of 20 years, Fana Maphumulo, to save up for their marriage. In a strange twist, she died just before they could marry, on the very day of her wedding. Strangely, she told her husband-to-be that she had dreamed of a wedding day death a short while before the scheduled wedding ceremony, but they found the far-fetched idea to be rather amusing and just laughed the matter off.
The engaged couple had finished planning the details of their wedding ceremony before the 42-year-old Nana suddenly sickened the day before the wedding and decided to check into a nearby hospital. She worsened in her rapidly developing condition and died in the hospital on her wedding day, just one hour before she was due to arrive for the marriage ceremony. The groom received the news at the church, but pulled himself together to honor his deceased wife-to-be despite the shock. The distraught but stoic groom asked to still recite the vows and had both rings placed upon his finger, in front of several hundred wedding guests who had already arrived and chose to remain.
6. Bride: Car Crushed Wedding
Killing one’s new wife through careless driving right after the wedding reception is a hard way to start the rest of your life. Ryan Quinton of Georgia made this terrible mistake and faced the full brunt of the legal system in addition to suffering a personal tragedy. 25-year-old newlywed bride Kali Dobson of Georgia was killed while leaving her reception on December 29, 2013 when her new husband lost control of his Pontiac Firebird sports car. The car flipped when Quinton allegedly swerved to avoid a dog, but the prosecution did not buy his story and he was charged with driving under the influence, laying drags, reckless driving, vehicular homicide, and for weaving on the road.
A subsequent stop for driving under the influence led the revocation of Quinton’s bail. At the court’s discretion, Quinton was sentenced to 15 years of probation, with 90-120 days in probation detention. Having failed to wear a seatbelt, Dobson was tossed from the vehicle and then crushed underneath with no chance to be saved. Her surviving husband faced police investigation and charges. Dobson had been pinned under the car when it flipped and was unable to be saved by rescuers.
5. Bride: Canal Accident Death
Canals, deep ditches, and rivers that border roads leave drivers with little room for error. And it might make sense that the excitement and bustle of wedding preparation can bring an increased chance of driver error in challenging driving circumstances. In a shocking 2015 accident, a groom-to-be in India was faced with the news that his wife-to-be, Allamsetty Balakumari was killed when her uncle, also killed in the crash, lost control of the car on the way to the wedding. The car was traveling at a rapid rate of speed when it left the road, violently crashing into the Krishna Canal in the Thotlavallur Mandal, Krishna District, India.
The uncle’s wife survived, but their four-year-old son’s life was lost, along with the friend of the bride in the vehicle. The bodies of the deceased were removed to a government hospital for autopsy, allowing further investigation into the elements of the fatal crash. One might not think of a wedding day as a likely time to die, but such incidents show how the human factors of exhaustion, limited time, opportunity for distraction, and excitement certainly present a risk factor set that may warrant analysis.
4. Bride & Groom: Medical Professional Murder/Suicide
Dr. George Scott Samson, a Union Hospital Anesthesiologist married his new wife, nurse Kelly Ecker… and shot her to death at their home before turning the gun on himself only a few hours after their Indiana wedding ceremony. During the ceremony, a nasty argument over prenuptial agreement details unfolded. Following their reception at their wedding venue, the couple hosted a few guests at home. However, the aggression between the couple spilled out shamelessly into the home despite the presence of guests.
Due to the disturbing spectacle, everyone left the premises. Once the couple was alone in the house, violence ensued. Soon after the guests had left, three emergency calls were made by Ecker. The first call made by Ecker said she was being beaten by her new husband, while further calls mentioned that guns were present. Both of their bodies were found by police upon arrival at the home. Despite the bizarre circumstances of the wicked tragedy, some explanation can be found in the rapid escalation of tension between the couple and the subsequent departure of the guests, creating the opportunity for the bizarre crime.
3. Groom: Death by Beer Glass
We all know the dangers of alcohol in making even relatively safe situations more prone to risky complications. However, the glassware in which alcohol is served may present an unexpected hazard when coupled with either carelessness or bad luck. 33-year-old Brazilian Navy Sergeant Fabio Jefferson Maciel was celebrating at a beachfront reception after exchanging vows with his new wife Geise Guimaraes, for whom he had even built a house, when he had a bizarre fatal accident.
At around 2:00 a.m., Jefferson was playing around with a bridesmaid when he tripped and fell on the beach. What would have been a minor fall caused fatal injuries when the beer glass stuffed into his trouser pocket broke, causing glass shards to pierce Jefferson’s femoral artery. Losing massive quantities of blood from the wound, the newlywed man died before he could be taken the distance to the hospital in the wake of the festive, 200-attendee wedding. With little gap time between celebration and tragedy, Jefferson’s funeral was held just three days later than his ill-fated wedding day.
2. Bride: Death by Wedding Stalker
Gripped in obsession and deadly rage, vengeful stalker Augustin Garcia picked the day of his ex-girlfriend’s wedding to the man she loved as the day he would end her life. On September 26, 1999, just before bride-to-be Gladys Ricart was scheduled to depart from her New Jersey family home en route to her wedding ceremony, her murderous ex-boyfriend walked into the home of Ricart, her mother, and 20-year-old son and pulled out a handgun. He shot her three times, killing her, just after she handed bouquets to her bridesmaids, but was subdued until authorities arrived to make the arrest.
A Dominican-born American businessman, Garcia sneaked into the Ricart home wearing wedding clothes, allowing him to blend in and then shoot her after drawing the concealed weapon. Garcia’s defense argued for a 30 year minimum sentence, arguing that the man had made a momentary “mistake” in the span of a few seconds. In fact, Garcia had been stalking Ricart for several weeks and was subsequently sentenced to life in prison, as the court did not buy claims of mitigating factors and reduced culpability. Her bereaved husband-to-be didn’t witness the shooting, as he was not present at the home, having planned to wait for his bride at the church.
1. Groom: A Boat in the Head
Few things are as rare as getting hit in the head by a boat, and such a tragedy led to Hans Adrian Campbell’s wedding day and day of death being the same date. In a bizarre sequence of events, the Texas police officer groom was hit on the head by a speedboat while diving in the Philippines with his soon to be wife, American registered nurse Chriselyn Bedolido, and their family. Scheduled to be married the following day, which was also Campbell’s birthday, Campbell and Bedolido went diving just before the big day but disaster struck when a speedboat wrongfully entered the supposedly safe diving area and smashed Campbell’s head as he came up for air.
The fatally injured Campbell and his fiancé opted for a tragic pre-mortem wedding, which consisted of a ceremony conducted in the hospital bed the day of the accident, one day ahead of the originally scheduled wedding. Shortly after exchanging vows with his bride, Campbell passed away, leaving his brand-new wife a widow on her wedding day. The accident that killed the police officer sparked investigation of water use conflicts and serves to show the little-considered risks of getting run over by a boat.