The human mind likes to make sense of things. We look for patterns and order in everything, even if it’s not really there. Few things spark our interest in finding meaning more than when we stumble upon a coincidence. Many people believe they have to mean something. And whether or not these amazing coincidences are indicative of something supernatural or just bad luck doesn’t really matter, they’re all still pretty creepy.
10. The Baby Catcher
About 4,000 children per year under 10 are injured by falling from windows. That seems like a lot, all things considered. And it may be at the root of explaining the curious coincidence that befell Joseph Figlock back in 1938. According to reports, Figlock was a street sweeper in Detroit. He was walking down the street one day when a baby fell from somewhere above him in the building he was passing. The child landed on Figlock and injured both of them, but they both survived as a result.
A year later, Figlock was cleaning out an alley and a two-year-old fell from a fourth story window, once again landing on Figlock. The results were the same as before, with Figlock cushioning the falls enough that the child survived.
You may see this story retold with embellished details, such as the same baby landing on Figlock exactly one year later, and he caught it both times. The original reports didn’t include those details at all and, in fact, point out that one baby was a girl and the other was a boy.
9. Booth’s Brother Saved Lincoln’s Son
People love to share eerie coincidences about Abraham Lincoln, whether or not they’re always true. But there are some quirky facts about the president’s life that do make you want to scratch your head, including the very odd coincidence about his son’s near-death experience.
Everyone knows that Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Less well known is how Edwin Booth, brother of John, saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln. Like his brother, Edwin was an actor as well. Unlike his brother, he was actually a big fan of Lincoln and the Union.
It was during the Civil War when Edwin and Robert met by chance in New Jersey. Neither knew the other personally, of course, and Robert was on a break from college while Edwin was traveling to see a friend.
Robert was knocked off a train platform and fell down next to the train, which had started moving. Trapped, Robert suddenly felt someone grab him and yank him back up. He recognized Edwin Booth as being an actor, though Booth didn’t know who Lincoln was. It was only a year or two later when John Wilkes Booth assassinated the president.
8 . The Life and Death of George Story
George Story became famous from birth thanks to Life magazine. On November 23, 1936, the first issue of Life hit the stands. Inside that first issue, the very first photo was of a doctor delivering a baby. The caption read “Life begins” which was a clever bit of wordplay for the magazine title. The baby was George Story.
Throughout the years, Life would check in on George and run that photo again. The man himself grew up to be a journalist for some years. Life magazine stopped publishing in the year 2000. For their farewell issue, they were going to include one final photo of George with the caption “A Life ends.” Two days before the photographers showed up to take the final photos, Story passed away from congestive heart failure.
7. The Nebraska Church Explosion
Choir practice at the West Side Baptist Church was scheduled to begin at 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 1950. It always started at that time, so this was by no means an unusual event. What was unusual was that, at 7:25, the church exploded. It’s been suggested that, after the furnace was lit in preparation for the choir’s arrival, a gas leak may have caused the blast. It was powerful enough to blow the windows out of nearby buildings and even knock the local radio station off the air. And not a single person was hurt because no one was there.
Every single member of the choir was late that night. Every single one was late for a different reason. Reverend Klempel, who lit the furnace, went home after to have dinner but ran late when his daughter’s dress got dirty and his wife was ironing a clean one.
The church pianist fell asleep at home after her own dinner and woke up at 7:15. A highschool student was stuck on a geometry problem with her homework. Two other members couldn’t get their cars started. One man was stuck writing a letter, and another was helping her mother. In total, 15 different people were late for 15 different reasons, such that no one was in the church when it eventually blew.
6. The Deaths of Bruce and Brandon Lee
Bruce Lee died in 1973 while filming his fifth movie, Game of Death. His death was caused by a cerebral edema in his brain and was all but unpredictable. He left behind a wife and two children. One of those children, Brandon Lee, famously followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming an actor. As most of us know, Brandon Lee tragically died as well on the set of his film The Crow 20 years later in 1993.
The Crow was Brandon’s fifth film. His death was caused by a prop gun that was improperly prepared for use. The dummy rounds were made from altered live rounds and one of the dummy bullets was still in the chamber when the blank was fired, causing it to fire like a normal gun.
In what turned out to be a bizarre coincidence, a scenario that almost exactly mirrored this turn of events happens on screen in Game of Death. In the film, Bruce Lee is playing an actor. On the set of the movie he’s starring in, the prop guy explains to the cast and crew how to properly fire the prop gun. He explains that the gun is loaded with blanks but that they must only aim upwards because there’s a wad of paper that could come out and injure someone. If the actor on the set of The Crow had followed those instructions, Lee would have survived.
In his movie, Bruce Lee’s character is then shot by the prop gun, though the character shooting intentionally swapped out the dummy round for a real bullet. The similarity between what happened on screen and what his son endured 20 years later was eerily prophetic.
5. The Death of Stephen Hawking
Ask the average person to name the greatest physicists of all time and they’ll likely only come up with a handful of names. Let’s be honest, science isn’t super glamorous and fame isn’t typically one of the perks, anyway. But that doesn’t mean some of them don’t achieve it. People like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking are at the top of the list. And while their scientific minds likely wouldn’t give much credence to weird coincidences, the rest of us can still do it.
Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, and passed away on March 14, 2018. He was born on the 300th anniversary of famed astronomer Galileo Galilei’s death. He died on the 139th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s birth. And it was also Pi Day, the day to commemorate the mathematical constant of Pi, which is often abbreviated down to 3.14, or March 14.
As you can imagine, social media made no end of clever quips about the timing of Hawking’s death, but even if it had no greater meaning related to relativity and time, it was still a hell of a coincidence.
4 The Tierney Men
A lot of sons follow in the footsteps of their fathers. That’s usually a good thing. Not so for the Tierney family, however, who endured generational tragedy at the Hoover Dam.
By the time the Hoover Dam was finished, 96 fatalities had been recorded. One of those deaths occurred on December 20, 1921. John Gregory Tierney was caught in a flood and drowned in the Colorado River. Tierney left behind a family, which included his young son Patrick.
Fourteen years after his father died. Patrick Tierney was a young man and had taken up work at the site of his father’s death. It was December 20, the anniversary of his father’s death, when Patrick slipped from an intake tower. His death would be the final one associated with the building of the dam.
3. My Way Killings
Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” spent 75 weeks as a Top 40 hit, and another 49 weeks in the top 75. The song was arguably Sinatra’s biggest and most memorable hit ever and is still popular to this day. Maybe even too popular, at least in the Philippines. Bad things happen to people who sing it there.
Between the years 2002 and 2012, upwards of a dozen people were killed in connection to “My Way.” In the Philippines, karaoke is both very popular and very serious. Serious enough that at least one of those 12 people was killed for singing the song out of tune. It was reported at that time that the song had already been taken off of numerous play lists because violence kept breaking out when people sang it poorly.
Another victim was stabbed in 2018 when a fight broke out before the song even started. In another incident, a four-year-old was singing the song, adults started arguing, and one man attacked with a meat cleaver. The only common theme is the choice of song, it seems, making it quite a deadly coincidence with little reason for the deadly acts beyond the arrogant lyrics, making people angry.
2. The Taxi Brothers
Many stories of amazing coincidences are too good to be true. Do some digging and they fall apart. But one popular tale of two brothers killed a year apart by the same taxi driver carrying the same passenger may actually be the real deal.
The incident supposedly took place in Bermuda in 1975, so records are a bit hard to come by. But internet sleuths wanting to get to the bottom of the story have dug around to find the clues. A story from the Telegraph in 1975 does present the incident as fact. Both brothers were 17 at the time of their death, both riding the same scooter on the same road, one year apart. Other reports mention the name of the taxi driver and even the sections of road on which the boys were hit.
Though verifiable details are hard to come by, a 1974 newsletter from a Bermuda worker’s union does offer a small message of sympathy after the death of a 17-year-old with the same name from the original story, which gives the whole thing a lot of credence.
1. Umberto and Umberto
In The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain created a tale of two identical men who swap places. One royalty, the other a poor commoner. Sounds fantastical and implausible, which makes the story of King Umberto of Italy and Umberto the restaurateur so unbelievable.
According to the story, the King went to a restaurant to have a meal. The owner wanted to meet the king, and the men were stunned to notice they looked exactly alike. They shared the same name and the same birthday. Both married women named Margherita on the same day.
The day after their meeting, King Umberto was assassinated. He was shot four times. The two men were scheduled to meet again that day, but it never panned out. Umberto, the restaurant owner, had died that morning after also being shot.
If the story is true, it’s quite the coincidence indeed. The two men very well could have been twin brothers without knowing it. But the death of a random restaurant owner in the year 1900 did not cause many waves, especially on the same day the king was assassinated, so details of his life, if he even existed, have been lost.