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Reflecting on phrase ‘died doing what they loved’

Jan Hearne • Aug 5, 2013 at 9:46 AM

After David “Kidd” Kraddick, radio and TV host of the “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning” show, died July 27 at a charity golf event, his spokesman said, “he died doing what he loved.”I remember the same was said of Bing Crosby, who likewise died on a golf course. I suppose it was said of Nelson Rockefeller, too, though not publicly.Reading about Kraddick made me wonder, who else has died doing something they loved?For Shain Gandee, star of MTV’s “Buckwild,” it was the love of “mudding,” a back country pastime involving SUVs and mud holes, that did him in. Gandee and two others died of carbon monoxide poisoning when their Bronco got stuck in the mud, burying the exhaust pipe. They left the engine running to keep warm and died. Of the tragedy: “his whole family said if he was going to die young, at least he died doing what he loved.” A 20-year-old storm watcher in Chicago died in June when he slipped into the water and drowned while observing a storm. His father said his son loved weather, science and statistics. His aunt said, “he died doing what he loved.”On July 30, a 64-year-old hunter awaiting a kidney transplant died of a heart attack while looking for wild pigs on his quad bike. His wife said her husband “lived to go pig hunting.” Well, he kinda died doing it, too, but, at least he was doing something he loved.In June, an 18-year-old musician and nature lover in Austin, Texas, fell to his death from a cliff a week before his high school graduation. Though his life was snuffed out at an obscenely young age, his dad, who described him as a sweet boy, took comfort in the fact — do I have to say it again? Really?In Baltimore, a 25-year-old drowned fishing for bass; a 48-year-old died during the Redondo Beach (Calif.) Triathlon; a drag racer crashed and died in Albuquerque; a kayaker drowned; a man diving for ancient shark teeth in Savannah, Ga.’s, Ogeechee River also drowned. Each story was accompanied by the ubiquitous qualifier.Apparently people in other parts of the world also die doing what they love. In July, Paul Thomas, 57, was killed when he was thrown from a sidecar during the last lap of a race on the Isle of Man. The accompanying article said Thomas was “a life-long motor racing fanatic.” The article’s pull quote read, “Dad died doing what he loved.”Another resident of the Isle of Man died when a human cannonball stunt went awry — for real. There are any number of ways to die “doing something you love”: an avalanche forecaster was killed in an avalanche; a skydiver’s chute didn’t open; a 20-year-old surfer was eaten by a shark in South Africa; a 24-year-old intern was mauled by a lion at a nature preserve; and Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin was stabbed by a stingray.The thing is, saying they died doing what they loved isn’t accurate. They were doing what they loved, and then they died. Those are two very different things.Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo editor. Reach her at jhearne@johnsoncitypress.com.

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