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Ice Bucket Challenge Death Hoaxes


Social media messages claim that teens have died when large tubs struck their heads while they participated in the ice bucket challenge meme that is currently circulating around the world. The articles include videos depicting the supposedly fatal stunts.

Ice Bucket Challenge Death Hoax
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Brief Analysis

The videos do show ice bucket challenges that have gone wrong. However, while the participants may have been hurt, there are no credible reports that they died. The stories are being spread by poor taste fake-news websites and should not be taken seriously.


Ice Bucket Challenge Death Hoax

Ice Bucket Challenge Death Hoax

Ice Bucket Challenge Death Hoax

Detailed Analysis

Reports Claim Teens Have Died During Ice Bucket Challenge Mishaps

Several reports that are circulating rapidly via social media claim that teens have tragically died while participating in the ice bucket challenge. The reports include videos of the supposedly fatal stunts that show large tubs of ice water accidently falling and hitting the teens on the head.

Death Reports Are False - Originate From Fake-News Websites

The videos themselves are genuine and they do depict ice bucket challenges gone wrong.  Thankfully, however, the death claims are untrue. While they may have been hurt, none of the participants died during the failed stunts.

One of the most widespread of the messages claims that a girl in Mississippi had her neck broken and died during an ice bucket stunt. The accompanying video shows a girl in a blue dress being whacked on the head by a large blue bucket. The story was published by a trashy website called Daily Buzz Live. The site's content includes a confusing mix of sensationalized but genuine news stories and totally fabricated nonsense.

The video actually depicts 19-year-old Therese Todd. Therese was taken to an emergency room for treatment after the incident but was later given the all clear and did not sustain any lasting injuries. The video began circulating via Facebook and YouTube among a plethora of similar 'ice bucket challenge fail' videos.

Daily Buzz Live later published the fake story about the 'tragic death of the Mississippi girl' and featured the Therese Todd video as evidence.

The site followed up with a second, very similar story and video. The story claims that 16-year-old Melissa Roberts was killed when a large tub of ice water dropped on her head.  As with the Therese Todd video, the incident has been featured on various 'ice bucket challenge fail' web pages. However, there are no credible reports that support the claim that a 'Melissa Roberts' died in the way described.

A third circulating story claims that a teen named Sergio Cardozo was killed during an ice bucket challenge stunt.  The story features a video of a boy wearing a crash helmet being hit in the head by a large ice water filled tub. It appears that the boy may have been knocked unconscious by the blow.

However, again, there are no credible reports of any kind that support the article's claim that the boy died.  And, even more tellingly, the story is featured on the notorious fake-news website Huzlers. The site, which apparently considers itself satirical, is responsible for a stream of nonsensical stories that have gone viral in recent months, causing angst and confusion as they travel.

Huzlers includes the following disclaimer in the footer of its web pages: is a combination of real shocking news and satire news to keep its visitors in a state of disbelief.

Verify Social Media 'News' Reports Before Sharing

Given the increasing number of fake-news websites that have appeared online in recent years, it is increasingly important that users verify social media 'news' reports before sharing them.

The ice-bucket challenge has been given a great deal of publicity by the mainstream media and, if the depicted deaths were real, they would certainly have been extensively reported. A quick search of a news aggregator such as Google News should reveal of a circulating report about such an event is true.

Caution Required With Ice Bucket Challenge

While fake, these death reports and videos do indicate that ice bucket challenges need to be undertaken with at least basic caution and common sense.   Those tipping the water need to be responsible enough - and strong enough - to ensure that they can safely control the bucket. A giant water-filled tub is certainly heavy enough to seriously injure or even kill a person it drops on.

Ice Bucket Challenge Death Hoax

© Julia_Tim

Last updated: August 30, 2014
First published: August 30, 2014
By Brett M. Christensen
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