If a simple picture is worth a thousand words then these photos speak multitudes and lifetimes. Not every photographer plans on taking one’s last moments, but that’s what unwittingly happened with these images. From smiles and laughs to sudden calamity, these pics were taken at the wrong place at the wrong time.
9. Darsh Patel, 2014
What looks like a blurry scenery of an ordinary forest is actually bristling with danger. In the center of this picture, you can see a far-off black bear. Though he isn’t in the photo, this was the last image taken by 22-year-old Rutger University student, Darsh Patel.
On a crisp September day, while wandering through the forests of New Jersey, Patel and his friends happened upon a massive 300-pound black bear. Instead of walking away immediately, the group decided to take several pictures while within 100 feet of the animal. The bear must’ve become agitated by the attention because it began walking toward the hikers. Unaware of what to do the group split up which allowed Patel to be singled out by the bear.
These photos are the last thing Patel saw before being mauled by the killer animal. The pics were recovered from his corpse when police arrived to put down the bear. Authorities say his phone was covered in bite marks.
8. Víctor Barrio Hernanz, 2016
Bullfighting has always had a long and gory history in Spain but many critics question how much longer it will remain legal in the country. Accidents like the death of Víctor Barrio Hernanz put more pressure on the controversial sport.
This picture is the last photograph of Hernanz before he was gored to death at a festival in Teruel, Spain in 2016. At first, Hernanz had the advantage over the animal but the tables turned when the 1,166-pound bull threw the matador to the ground and began attacking him with his horns. The 29-year-old was slain on live television. He was pronounced dead after medical teams reached him on the field.
7. TransAsia Airways Flight 235, 2015
This now-viral dashcam footage of TransAsia flight 235 captured its last moments before plunging into the Keelung River in Taiwan. Disaster struck when the twin-engine passenger plane reported an engine flameout only two minutes into its flight. The engine gained altitude before descending for an emergency landing.
In a panic, pilots shut down power to the wrong engine causing the aircraft to stall erratically. The airliner clipped a bridge before crashing into the river. Out of the 58 passengers on board, only 15 survived.
6. Pavel Kashin, 2013
Pavel Kashin of St. Petersburg, Russia was one of the best parkour runners in the world before his demise. In July of 2013, he attempted his most dangerous stunt yet; it would prove to be his last.
For the stunt, Kashin was to perform a backflip and land on the three-foot-wide ledge of a 16-story building. However, as he jumped and flipped in the air, Kashin failed to stick the landing and slipped, plummeting 200 feet to his death. This last picture was shot by Kashin’s friend who unwittingly captured his companion’s last moments alive.
5. Robert Landsberg, 1980
This foreboding, eerie picture of sulphuric clouds is not of outer space or a distant planet but actually, Mount Saint Helens erupting in 1980. The film wouldn’t have survived (unlike its photographer) if not for the exploits of Rober Landsberg.
In the weeks leading up to the eruption, Landsberg took many trips up to Saint Helen’s to capture the volcano’s changes. He was within miles of the peak when it suddenly erupted. Landsberg managed to snap many pictures of the rapidly charging ash cloud before realizing his own fate; he could not outrun the deadly pyroclastic flow.
With little time to lose, Landsberg put his camera into his backpack and covered the film with his body to protect it. His body was found 17 days later, buried under the ash. The film was developed and has given geologists an unprecedented look at the historic eruption.
4. Paul Walker, 2013
Actor Paul Walker is shown here just moments before his fatal crash. The red, 2005 Porsche Carrera GT belonged to his friend Roger Rodas who was behind the wheel on that fateful day. Rodas was speeding between 85 and 93 miles per hour, with Walker in the passenger seat.
The driver lost control at high speed, striking a sidewalk, a tree, and then slamming into a light post. The Porsche burst into flames claiming the lives of both occupants. Walker was 40 years old.
3. U.S. Army Specialist Hilda Clayton, 2013
This explosive image was the last taken by U.S. Army photographer Specialist Hilda Clayton. Clayton was on assignment in Afghanistan capturing photos of Afghan soldiers during a training exercise when a mortar shell accidentally detonated in its tube, killing Clayton and all four soldiers. This was the final photo in Clayton’s camera roll, capturing the fatal moment.
2. B-17 Bomber, 1943
A stricken American B-17 bomber goes belly-up in this dramatic photo captured by Flight Lieutenant Eric Cooper. The picture was found among Cooper’s effects after his death and little information is known about the bomber or its crew. There is little doubt however that this was the aircraft’s (and its crew’s) final moments before plummeting into the ground.
1. The Falling Man, 2001
Though there have been many guesses, the identity of the falling man in this iconic image from the September 11 attacks has never been confirmed. To many people today he is still simply referred to as “The Falling Man.” The startling image was captured by photojournalist Richard Drew at 9:41 am on the day of the attacks.
The Falling Man is one of the 200 victims that day who jumped from the upper floors of the Twin Towers. It’s been determined that h was trapped on one of the upper floors of the North Tower and decided to choose his own fate.