Traumatic Brain Injury Accident

7 Famous People Who Died of a Traumatic Brain Injury Accident

1)  Kurt Vonnegut  |  Famous People Who Died of a Traumatic Brain Injury Accident

Kurt Vonnegut was regarded by many critics as a key influence in shaping 20th century American Literature.  He was known and applauded for his subtle denunciations and sharp portrayal of modern society.  In 2007 the legendary writer, Kurt Vonnegut, suffered brain injury and died after an icy slip and fall.  Vonnegut, who often marveled that he had lived so long despite his lifelong smoking habit, suffered brain injury after a fall at his Manhattan home, which ultimately lead to his death.

2)  Jon-Erik Hexum  |  Famous People Who Died of a Traumatic Brain Injury Accident

Jon-Erik Hexum was an American model and actor.  He played Mac Harper, a former Marine hired by Dani Reynolds (played by Jennifer O’Neill) to locate her husband. Hexum appeared in only seven episodes. On October 12, 1984, while joking between scenes at work, Hexum took a blank-loaded .44 Magnum and pointed it at his head and pulled the trigger. Blanks use paper or plastic wadding to seal gunpowder into the cartridge, and this wadding is propelled from the barrel of the gun with enough force to cause brain injury if the weapon is fired within a few meters of the body should it strike at a particularly vulnerable spot, such as the temple or the eye.  So, despite being a prop gun with blanks, the wadding was fired with enough force to send skull fragments into Hexum’s brain, causing massive hemorrhaging.  He was only 26 years old when he died from the traumatic brain injury accident.

3)  Robert Fergusson  |  Famous People Who Died of a Traumatic Brain Injury Accident

Robert Fergusson was one of Scotland’s great Poets.  He was born in 1750.  Fergusson attended St. Andrew’s University.  At the University he was known for his humour, practical jokes, and writing comic verse.  He was one of the leading figures of the 18th-century revival of Scots vernacular writing and the chief forerunner of Robert Burns.  In 1774, when Fergusson was just 24 years old, he sustained a head injury after falling down a flight of stairs in Edimburgh.  He was submitted to Edinburgh’s Darien House hospital, and died of the injury he sustained by falling down the stairs.

4)  Brittanie Cecil  |  Famous People Who Died of a Traumatic Brain Injury Accident

A puck that sailed more than 100 feet over the glass at a hockey game and hit the head of 13-year-old fan caused the death of young Brittanie Cecil.  She initially did not look to be severely injured.  The only visible cut was on her head, and she was able to walk to a first-aid station and then to an ambulance.  What you could not see was that her head had snapped back after the puck made contact with her head, tearing a vertebral artery.  Two days after the personal injury occurred,,Brittanie lost consciousness.

“It was just such a strange thing because of how it happened. I saw her get hit from my box.  Then I saw her walk out and I never really thought a thing of it.  She was 13.  She was the same age as my daughter was at the time.  It is just a horrendous tragedy when you think that a little girl is at a game, loving hockey and loving the game and then had that happen.  It’s just so tragic.”  Blue Jackets general manager Doug MacLean

5)  Russ Columbo  |  Famous People Who Died of a Traumatic Brain Injury Accident

Known for his good looks and smooth voice, Russ Columbo was quickly named the “Romeo of Song.”   Respected portrait photographer, Lansing Brown Jr. had been Columbo’s best friend for over a decade, so naturally Brown was invited to the movie premiere of Wake Up and Dream. It was the first time Columbo had ever received top billing for a picture.  Columbo was never able to ask his good friend what he had thought of the film.  The next day Columbo decided to drop by Brown’s house to find out if his friend enjoyed his performance.   Columbo arrived at the Brown household in the afternoon.  Brown had a collection of firearms and the two men were examining various pieces.

I was absent-mindedly fooling around with one of the guns. It was of a dueling design and works with a cap and trigger. I was pulling back the trigger and clicking it time after time. I had a match in my hand and when I clicked, apparently the match caught in between the hammer and the firing pin. There was an explosion. Russ slid to the side of his chair.

On September 2, 1934, Columbo was shot by Lansing Brown.  The ball ricocheted off a nearby table and hit Columbo above the left eye. Surgeons at Good Samaritan Hospital made an unsuccessful attempt to remove the ball from Columbo’s brain; he died less than six hours after the shooting on September 2. 1934.  He was only 26 years old.

 6)  Vladimir Smirnov |  Famous People Who Died of a Traumatic Brain Injury Accident

Smirnov won the gold medal in individual men’s foil at the 1980 Summer Olympics.  He won the World Championships the following year.  Vladimir Smirnov and Matthias Behr lunged simultaneously during a championship fencing match in Rome in 1982. As Behr’s foil struck Smirnov’s chest protector, the blade snapped at the tip, and the jagged end cut through Smirnov’s wire-mesh face protector. The blade pierced Smirnov’s brain and severed an artery.  The 28-year-old died 10 days later.  Smirnov’s accident was the driving force behind the significant improvement of safety gear in fencing.

7)  Natasha Richardson  |  Famous People Who Died of a Traumatic Brain Injury Accident

Natasha Richard was a famous, award winning actress.  She won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, and the Outer Critics Circle Award.  She was in many films, including Patty Hearst (1988), The Parent Trap (1998) and Maid in Manhattan (2002).  She was married to actor Liam Neeson.  Natasha Richardson died at 45 years old after head injuries she sustained in a fall at a Canadian ski resort.  Richardson’s accident, which happened on a beginner slope at Canada’s Mont Tremblant ski resort, didn’t result in obvious harm. Richardson was said to have felt fine until an hour or so after the fall, when she developed a headache.  At that point, she went to a hospital near the Canadian ski resort where she was staying and was later transferred to a New York hospital.   An autopsy of Richardson indicated that she died of a brain hemmorage caused by “blunt impact” to her head.  The autopsy suggests that the fall tore an artery in Ms. Richardson’s head, which resulted in bleeding in an area between the skull and the lining covering the brain.  She died on March 18th 2009.   The official cause of death was an epidual hematoma. A hematoma is a collection of blood, and epidural in this case refers to the space between the skull and the dura. If surgery is performed quickly, it may be possible to save the patient’s life.


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