In the years following Otiz’s recovery from a glacier in the Otztal Alps, seven people connected in some way with the mummy’s discovery and research perished under allegedly “mysterious circumstances”. Although likely influenced by the media’s infatuation with the ‘Curse of the Pharaohs’, it is curious to note that four of these deaths were the result of violent accidents…
1.) Dr. Rainer Henn, 64: a forensic pathologist, Dr. Henn was the first victim of the ‘curse’. He was the head of the forensic team that examined Otzi’s body, and once picked up the cadaver with his bare hands to place it in a body bag. His death came as a result of a head-on collision with another vehicle in 1992… while he was driving to a conference where he was scheduled to present new research on Otzi.
2.) Kurt Fritz: shortly after Henn’s death, the second victim was an experienced mountain climber who had led Henn and his team to the iceman’s body. He was the only member of his party to be stuck by falling rocks during an avalanche in a region he was supposedly familiar with.
3.) Rainer Hoelzl, 47: the third victim, Hoelzl was an Austrian journalist who had filmed an exclusive documentary of the body’s removal from the ice, which was broadcast internationally. A few months later, he developed a mysterious illness – speculated to have been a brain tumor – and perished in extreme pain shortly thereafter.
4.) Helmut Simon, 67: a German tourist, it was Mr. Simon who had been hiking through the alps with his wife when he happened upon Otzi’s body in 1991. He returned to the region on an unaccompanied hike in 2004, and when he did not return as scheduled, rescue teams were dispatched… only to find that the weather had shifted suddenly to blizzard conditions, causing Simon to fall 100 metres into a deep ravine. His body was found eight days later, covered in ice much like the mummy.
5.) Dieter Warnecke, 45: head of the mountain rescue team that searched for Simon, Warnecke died of a heart attack – although according to his family, he was in perfect health. What is more, this occurred less than an hour after Simon’s burial.
6.) Konrad Spindler, 66: Spindler was the leading expert on Otzi before his death. Spindler suffered from a pre-existing chronic condition known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and it was in 2005 that complications with the condition arose which claimed his life. Before his death, he was quoted as being dismissive of the ‘Otzi’s curse’ theory, saying: “I think it’s a load of rubbish. It is all a media hype. The next thing you will be saying I will be next.”
7.) Dr. Tom Loy, 63: Dr. Loy died just prior to completing a book about Otzi, and had also on several occasions been in close physical contact with the mummy. His death came as a surprise to his family, though there is a possibility that Loy may have suffered from a pre-existing medical condition.
While the concept of cursed mummies is indeed intriguing, it is also worth noting that these deaths only totaled seven, even though there were hundreds of other individuals involved with Otzi’s discovery and the subsequent research on the body and associated artifacts.
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