Woman Killed by Sneeze, Says Sister
It led to the crash that killed Edna Hickson, she claims
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2014 8:25 AM CDT
Stock photo of a nose.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A 79-year-old woman died Sunday, and her sister says a sneeze was to blame. Australian police say Edna Hickson's Hyundai Elantra rolled a number of times as she rounded a bend, causing internal injuries that ultimately killed her. But sister Betty Sheelah says Hickson, who was driving to Sheelah's home in northern New South Wales for a week's stay, didn't die on the scene. She "was quite alert after the crash. When they arrived, she told the paramedics she had sneezed and that was what led to the accident." Hickson was taken to the hospital, where she later died, reports the Armidale Express.

So how common are sneeze-related accidents? Anecdotally, they're certainly not unheard of: A semi-truck driver who said he sneezed and reached for a tissue in May caused a fiery crash and traffic back-up, but no deaths, in Indianapolis; in April 2013, a man pushing a disabled car along a Florida road was struck and killed by a driver who sneezed; and in November 2012, a single mother in Missouri was killed when her car was hit head-on by a driver who started "sneezing violently." The Washington Post points to a British car repair company's estimate that a sneeze that happens while one is driving 60mph can translate into the driver traveling 50 feet with his eyes closed. (At the root of another car crash: A man holding his breath.)

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Jan 13, 2016 11:05 PM CST
I've had a sneezing fit while driving that forcibly slammed my eyes shut. Just held on and tried to keep the car straight.
May 14, 2015 10:55 AM CDT
A sneezing fit gave me (aseptic) meningitis. Ten years ago, I was a couple weeks out from having brain surgery for Chiari Malformation & Ehlers-Danlos complications; part of the surgery involved removed a small piece of my skull, and instead of putting it back, they put a patch over it made of pig intestine. At home, seasonal allergies caused me to sneeze 8 times in a row. Immediately afterward, my vision became extremely blurry. Within 5 minutes my temperature spiked to 105. My husband called my neurosurgeon, who said to get to an ER right away. They did a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), which confirmed I had meningitis. The doctors said my sneezing fit tore the pig intestine, which was basically a type of graft that was adhered to my brain in several areas. The sneezing ripped it from my brain, causing it to bleeding in my brain and spine. I was transported by med-evac 2 1/2 hours away for a higher level of care due to how severe the meningitis already was. While not the contagious type of meningitis, thank goodness (my children were toddlers), I ended up fighting it for several months. It has left me with several side effects, the worst of which is the progressive growth of scar tissue in my brain. Five years ago, it caused me to start having seizures, which I now have several dozen a day. I have a fantastic seizure-alert service dog though, who has been featured in both print magazines and online articles; she has given me back some sort of normalcy again. So yes, long story, not short, sorry LOL, sneezing can definitely do some damage, though for some of us I guess we are a bit more vulnerable. Whenever I sneeze and someone nearby says, "God bless you," I thank the person and don't just say it in passing. I truly appreciate it! Life is precious! You never know what will happen with that next sneeze, so live life saying what needs said, and have no regrets! ;)
May 13, 2015 8:32 PM CDT
Woman killed by accident