Hammocks: Hidden Killers

Hammocks are far more dangerous than they appear and have lead to numerous deaths. Join me as I document some of these tragedies.

Hammocks: Hidden Killers
"Hammock by the Sea" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Anthony Seim

During the pandemic, while conducting research on a completely unrelated topic, I stumbled upon an obituary on Find a Grave that caught my attention. The obituary mentioned a tragic hammock accident that had taken the life of the girl being remembered. At first, I thought this must be some sort of morbid joke. How could someone die from a hammock accident? Intrigued, I started to look into it further.

Jump to the list of hammock deaths

A hammock accident were the girls thankfully walk away unscathed.

As I began my investigation, I discovered that this was not an isolated incident. In fact, there were numerous reports of people being seriously injured or even killed in hammock accidents. I was shocked. How could something as innocent as a hammock be so dangerous?

As I dug deeper, I found that there were a variety of ways that hammocks could cause harm. For example, people had been known to fall out of hammocks and suffer serious head injuries. Others had been strangled by the ropes or cords used to suspend the hammock. In some cases, the trees or structures supporting the hammock had collapsed, causing the occupant to fall to the ground.

The more cases I discovered, the more convinced I became that this was a serious issue that needed to be addressed. I started to wonder how many people had been injured or killed in hammock accidents over the years. Unfortunately, there was no easy way to find out.

Despite the lack of official statistics, I felt a responsibility to spread the word about the dangers of hammocks.

The Danger Explained

The seemingly innocuous hammock is a popular outdoor accessory, particularly during the summer months. These comfortable, lightweight slings can be hung between two trees or posts and offer a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. However, while they may seem innocuous, hammocks can be dangerous and have been linked to several deaths and injuries over the years.

One of the main dangers associated with hammocks is their potential to collapse or come loose from their supports. When this happens, people can fall to the ground, sometimes from a great height. This can result in serious injuries, such as broken bones, spinal cord damage, and traumatic brain injuries. In some cases, falling from a hammock can even be fatal.

Another danger associated with hammocks is the risk of suffocation. This can occur if a person becomes tangled in the fabric or falls asleep in an awkward position, which can restrict their breathing. Children and pets are particularly vulnerable to this risk, as they may not be able to extricate themselves from a hammock as easily as an adult.

Hammocks can also pose a fire risk. If someone falls asleep in a hammock while smoking or using a portable stove or grill, the fabric can quickly catch fire. In addition, if a hammock is hung too close to a campfire or other heat source, it can melt or ignite, causing serious burns or starting a wildfire.

Hammocks can exert a considerable amount of sheer force on brick columns, which can lead to structural damage over time. When a hammock is hung between two columns, the weight of the person in the hammock puts pressure on the ropes or straps, which in turn pull on the columns. This force can cause the columns to shift or crack, leading to instability and potential collapse.

Finally, hammocks can be dangerous if they are not set up properly. If the ropes or straps are not secure or the hammock is hung too high, it can lead to falls and injuries. In addition, if a hammock is hung in an unstable location, such as over a cliff or above water, the consequences can be deadly.

While hammocks can be a fun and relaxing way to spend time outdoors, they are not without risks. From collapsing supports to suffocation hazards and fire risks, there are many dangers associated with hammocks. To stay safe while using a hammock, it is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully, choose a safe and stable location to set it up, and always supervise children and pets while they are using it.

The Deaths

A tragic series of accidents has claimed the lives of numerous individuals from around the world, highlighting the unexpected dangers of using hammocks. This compilation pays tribute to the victims, whose ages range from young children to adults, and whose stories serve as a cautionary reminder to ensure safety precautions are taken when using hammocks. From collapsing trees and pillars to entanglement and asphyxiation, these incidents underscore the importance of vigilance and awareness when enjoying leisure time in a hammock.

  1. Chelsea Lee Moles, 28 (11 September 2023) - A homeless woman died at Virginia Beach, Virginia, when a lifeguard stand, to which she had attached a hammock, collapsed on her. (The Virginian-Pilot)
  2. Maria Luiza Lopes Hupp, 4 (31 May 2023) - A girl was swinging in her hammock in her home in Brazil when the pillar to which it was attached collapsed, fatally crushing her. (The Mirror)
  3. Madolin Morley, 16 (23 May 2023) - A Utah girl was killed while sitting with friends in a hammock celebrating the end of school when the rock pillar it was attached to collapsed. (KUTV)
  4. Tinesha Johnson, 11 (19 December 2022) - A tragic accident in Corentyne Berbice, Guyana, saw a young Guyanese girl lose her life after becoming entangled in a hammock while playing in her family's backyard. (NewsRoom)
  5. Henry Gillman, 19 (29 August 2022) - A student at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, died when a brick column, to which his hammock was attached, collapsed. The incident also left two 18-year-old women critically injured. (Portland Tribune)
  6. Darren Collins, 22 (10 July 2022) - A US Navy Seaman met a tragic end at Naval Air Station North Island, California, when his hammock collapsed, resulting in his head being impaled on a sharp object. (Navy Times)
  7. Alan Padmore, 28, (12 June 2022) - A Trinidadian living in Guyana was found asphyxiated in his backyard hammock. (Guyana Times)
  8. James Douglas, 28 (15 April 2022) - A Sunderland property developer lost his life when a garden pillar, to which his hammock was attached, collapsed. (The Mirror)
  9. Edward Murphy, 50 (25 May 2021) - A New Hampshire hiker was killed when the tree his hammock was fastened to fell down. (New York Post)
  10. Jamir Samir Marin, 11 (3 April 2021) - A boy died in Belize after the concrete wall that his hammock was attached to collapsed. (Breaking Belize News)
  11. Joshua Baldeo, 12 (29 January 2021) - Tragedy struck in Grenada when a boy asphyxiated after becoming entangled in a hammock while playing with his younger brother. (The New Today Grenada)
  12. Amanda Martin, 29 (17 January 2021) - In Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, a Maryland woman was found dead by the Shenandoah River after the tree her hammock was attached to collapsed, crushing her. The case appeared suspicious and a detailed exploration was written, (Herald Mail Media)
  13. Marla Vuksan, 12 (19 November 2020) - A Massachusetts girl fell from a hammock and sustained a fatal head injury while on a family holiday in Cancún, Mexico. (Boston Globe)
  14. Aviana Delisle, 8 (24 July 2020) - A young girl from Nova Scotia, Canada, was killed when the brick pillar fence post supporting her hammock collapsed as she lay in it with her father. (SaltWire)
  15. Scout Scaravilli, 14, and Chasey Scaravilli, 12 (15 June 2020) - In a Cleveland, Ohio, backyard, two sisters tragically lost their lives when a brick column, to which their hammock was attached, collapsed. (Daily Mail)
  16. Chasey Scaravilli (See above)
  17. Unnamed Boy, 11 (23 December 2019) - A young boy in Tel Aviv died after being accidentally strangled while playing in a hammock. (Israel National News)
  18. Laura L. B., (23 November 2019) - A Swiss woman lost her life in a Yucatán, Mexico, hostel when the wall of the room she rented collapsed onto her while she was rocking in a hammock. (Notacaribe)
  19. Richard Grassby, 58 (26 August 2019) - Bournemouth stonemason Richard Grassby was killed when the metal post supporting his hammock fell, striking him in the head. (Bournemouth Daily Echo)
  20. Doug Curry, 66 (16 July 2019) - Celebrating his wedding anniversary in Cornwall, a father was crushed to death by the 1.5-tonne rock he had attached his hammock to. (Metro)
  21. Ryan O'Carroll, 25 (25 May 2019) - Southampton man Ryan O'Carroll, on holiday in Cornwall, was killed when the tree his hammock was attached to collapsed while he was testing it out. (The Mirror)
  22. Jake East, 22, (9 December 2018) - Perth university student Jake East was struck and killed by a collapsing brick pillar as he lay on a hammock with his partner during a Christmas party. (The Western Australian)
  23. Isabel Melendez, 20 (20 October 2018) - A visit to Egmont Key Park, Florida, turned fatal for Isabel Melendez when the palm tree her hammock was attached to collapsed. (The Ledger)
  24. Sabina Surjit Henderson, 7 (22 September 2018) - A family gathering in Purcellville, Virginia, ended in tragedy when a tree supporting a young girl's hammock crashed down on her. (NBC4 Washington)
  25. Edward Joseph Michalek, 5 (17 October 2017) - In Minnesota a young boy was killed when one of the oak trees holding up his backyard hammock collapsed. (New York Post)
  26. Adam Frank, 12 (29 August 2017) - A young boy in Trinidad was found asphyxiated after becoming entangled in his hammock. (Loop News)
  27. Michelle Chalk, 15 (1 August 2017) - A Kentucky girl was killed when a tree collapsed as she and a friend sat on a hammock at a friend's house. The friend sustained minor injuries. (People)
  28. Joelle Dalgleish, 15 (20 May 2017) - A teenage girl in Georgia, USA, lost her life when a tree supporting her hammock snapped in half and fell on her during a friend's birthday camping trip. (Daily Mail)
  29. Madison Lanee Rogers, 12 (25 February 2017) - A tragic accident in Arizona, USA, saw a young girl fall off her bed, hit her head, and become asphyxiated in a hammock below her bed. (KPNX)
  30. Elizabeth Gay Casey, 53 (26 May 2016) - A family camping trip in Arkansas turned tragic when the tree supporting Elizabeth Casey's hammock broke, striking and killing her immediately. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)
  31. Peri Sagun, 13 (14 May 2016) - A tragic accident occurred in Iowa, USA, when a young girl was killed after jumping onto a hammock secured to a brick pillar, which subsequently collapsed and struck her in the head. (Washington Post)
  32. Allison Doyle, 13 (24 April 2016) - In Connecticut, USA, a young girl was killed when the tree her hammock was attached to collapsed. Two other children playing on the hammock survived. (Hartford Courant)
  33. Nur Syahirah Mustafa, 14 (23 March 2016) - A tragic event occurred in Malaysia when a young girl was discovered tangled in her hammock, having succumbed to asphyxiation. (New Strait Times)
  34. Aaron Asiedu, 11 (11 December 2015) - In Manchester, UK, a young boy accidentally strangled himself with a blanket while he and his brother were building a makeshift hammock in their bedroom.(Manchester Evening News)
  35. Trinity Boothe, 12 (28 December 2014) - In Florida, USA, a young girl was killed when the tree supporting her hammock collapsed onto her. (Orlando Sentinel)
  36. Fabian Sam, 11 (1 June 2012) - A boy died after breaking his neck while playing with siblings in a hammock in Port Kaituma, Guyana. (Stabroek News)
  37. Ronela “Lilay” Barliso, 10 (29 August 2011) - A young girl from the Philippines tragically lost her life after being strangled by the rope cords of a hammock. (INQUIRER.NET)
  38. Mallori Kastner, 18 (17 September 2010) - A tragic incident in Indiana, USA, left a young girl dead and her boyfriend paralyzed after a tree fell on top of them while they were sitting in a hammock. (The Sojourn)
  39. Kyle Kerr, 13 (2 May 2010) - A young boy from Florida tragically lost his life when he accidentally got caught in a hammock in his room, leading to suffocation. (The Palm Beach Post)
  40. Thomas Michael Brasier, 3 (27 October 2009) - In Western Australia, a young boy playing in a hammock was killed when the concrete pillar it was attached to collapsed. (WA Today)
  41. Jessica Lynne "Jessie" Peterson, 14 (15 March 2009) - In Massachusetts, USA, a young girl was killed and her mother injured when the tree supporting their hammock collapsed as they took a break from yard work. (Nashoba Valley Voice)
  42. Robert Schneider, 54 (25 June 2006) - Ontario man dies in hammock accident after rotten tree falls and strikes him on the head. (The Canadian Press)
  43. Allen Robert Emer, 59 (23 June 2006) - A gentleman from New Jersey tragically lost his life when a bolt of lightning struck the tree to which his hammock was fastened, subsequently causing the tree to topple onto him. (The New York Times)
  44. Visar Luzha, 19 (19 August 2005) - An immigrant from Kosovo was killed at a party in Massachusetts while sitting in a hammock when a chimney collapsed, striking him in the head. (Salem News)
  45. Tamara Dee Colvin, 17 (15 May 2005) - In Oklahoma, a girl was killed and her boyfriend injured when the dead tree holding their hammock fell on them. (The Oklahoman)
  46. Albin Alvarez, 12 (10 December 2002) - A young boy playing alone in a hammock tragically lost his life after becoming entangled in its strings and accidentally choking to death when he fell out. (Channel 5 Belize)
  47. Davey Allison Dunavant, 9 (28 June 2001) - A Lexington, Kentucky, boy was killed when a tree that his hammock was attached to uprooted, falling and killing him. (Lexington Herald-Leader).
  48. Gary Coy, 35 (2 May 2001) - A concrete pillar fell on a man, killing him as he was relaxing in a hammock in his Northfield, Ohio, back yard. (The Blade)
  49. Duncan Reade-Hill, 12 (12 June 2000) - A boy was killed when a garden wall collapsed on him as he played in a hammock at his home in Surrey, UK. (The Guardian)
  50. Mark Elias Price, 5 (19 June 1999) - A Staten Island boy swinging in a backyard hammock was killed when a tree collapsed on him. (Daily News)
  51. Jonathan Gallenstein, 16 (23 September 1993) - A teenage boy in Kentucky tragically passed away due to asphyxiation before he was found by a family member with his neck entangled in a hammock in his basement. (The Cincinnati Enquirer)
  52. Abel Anderson, 14 (18 January 1991) - A teen boy died of asphyxiation after he became entangled in a hammock in the basement of his Cambridge, Ontario, home while watching television. (Waterloo Region Record)
  53. Simon Jackson, 23 (23 July 1989) - In Surrey, two men attached a hammock to brick pillars, but when they tried to use it, one of the pillars collapsed, killing Simon and injuring his friend. (Surrey Mirror)
  54. Jefferson McGrath, 38, and James Stephens, 43 (2 May 1967) - Two men in New York met a tragic end when the chimney to which their hammock was attached collapsed, killing them both. (The New York Times)
  55. James Stephens (See above)
  56. Bertine A. Hall, 67 (11 July 1950) - A Chicago man returned home from work and dropped into his hammock, ripping loose a section of porch railing that then struck him in the head killing him instantly. (The Daily Calumet)
  57. Catherine Keefer, 9 months, (11 August 1947) - In McKeesport, Pennsylvania, an unattended infant was tragically found strangled in a hammock. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  58. John Vieno, 9 (5 August 1947) - In Dorchester, Massachusetts, a boy's first time using a hammock turned tragic when the hollow tree it was attached to fell, crushing his skull and resulting in his death. (The Boston Globe)
  59. Sidney Preston Smith, 20 (28 June 1936) - A US Navy Midshipman's life was cut short when he fell from his hammock aboard the USS Wyoming while docked in Portsmouth, England, UK. (The New York Times)
  60. Andrew Martin Halseth, 25 (5 November 1917) - A US Navy Seaman lost his life as a result of falling from his hammock in Brest, France. (The New York Times)
  61. Ralph B. Woodington, 11 (30 July 1911) - A young boy lost his life in Bridgeboro, New Jersey, when a tree that was supporting his hammock collapsed at a friend's residence. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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