Student dies of thirst in vending tragedy

January 1, 1999


An urban-legends website lists death by toppling vending machine among its more bizarre accidental fatalities, but the story was tragically real for one Canadian university student.

Kevin Mackle, a student at Bishop's University, near Montreal, died of suffocation after a 1,000-pound soft-drink machine pinned him to the ground.

The accident happened at 4am on the day the student was to catch a train back to his home-town in Ontario for the Christmas holidays.

While no university in Canada has experienced this type of accident before, soft-drink vending machines have gained notoriety from causing 37 deaths between 1978 and 1995 in the United States alone, with a further three reported in Canada.

A 20 degree tilt is enough to topple vending machines, most of which now carry a warning to customers whose frustration over losing their money often turns physical.

University spokesman Bruce Stevenson told The THES that the university has removed 12 of its 30 vending machines, leaving only those that are secure. He said the incident was a tragic accident that was difficult to foresee.

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