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Bobby Leach went down the Niagara Falls in a barrel, but eventually died from a bizarrely small cause

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Posted April 15, 2019

Here’s a thing – we’re all going to die and there is nothing you can do about it. However, you should try living to the best of your ability so that you would have a thousand stories to tell. Bobby Leach was a brave and wild guy and we can only hope that he was a fan of irony. After doing lots of crazy stunts in his life, he died from rather bizarre causes.

Bobby Leach is a famous daredevil, who became the second person go down the Niagara Falls in a barrel. Image credit: Wikimedia

Bobby Leach was born in 1858 in Cornwall, England. He was always full of energy and crazy ideas, but no one could’ve expected him to become the second person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel in 1911. The first one was actually a teacher Annie Taylor, who just wanted to make money, but didn’t succeed to capitalize on her stunt. Meanwhile Leach had a strong spirit of an adventurer and travelled around the world telling people about the journey down the waterfall.

Leach’s barrel was actually a strong metal cylinder, but the fall was very extreme nevertheless. He suffered two broken knee caps, a fractured jaw and a number of other different injuries, which resulted in him spending six months in the hospital. After recovering he became a performer with the Barnum and Bailey Circus and told his story in vaudeville shows and lecture halls. Leach was always happy to pose with his damage barrel, but one dangerous stunt is never enough for a man like him.

Bobby Leach was happy to pose with his barrel before and after the famous stunt. Image credit: Wikimedia

In 1920 Leach returned to Niagara Falls and operated a pool hall. He was already in his sixties when decided to swim across the Niagara’s whirlpool rapids. The rough waters didn’t scare Leach, but the task was too difficult even for him. Several times he failed and had to be rescued by a riverman and a daredevil William “Red” Hill Sr. And so Leach started touring again.

In 1926 Bobby Leach was touring in New Zealand. However, a relatively easy trip ended with his death, even though he was not performing any stunts. 68 year old man slipped on an orange peel and injured his leg. It soon became infected. Infection grew into gangrene and the leg was amputated, but Leach never recovered and died two months later.

Every death is a tragedy, but this one is rather ironic. Leach did many dangerous stunts and probably couldn’t imagine himself dying from such a mundane cause. An orange peel did what Niagara Falls couldn’t, but at least Leach’s name will be forever remembered.

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