The best, most Minnesotan ways to die

St. Paul's potholes: one of Minnesota's most appropriate ways to meet your maker.

St. Paul's potholes: one of Minnesota's most appropriate ways to meet your maker. Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

People sure seem to love it here.

They’ve got plenty of reasons: natural beauty, decent citizens, a robust economy, the occasionally successful delivery of a government service. What’s not to love?

Our citizenry should take a more expansive view. We should embrace more than the way we live; let us also take pride in the uniquely Minnesotan ways we die. Below, a roundup of recent obituaries and crime blotter stories in newspapers from across this great state:

Marco Rogers, 33, of St. Paul, died doing what he loved: eating a Jucy Lucy at the Blue Door Pub and yelling that his friend Dave was wrong, and that this establishment’s cheese-filled burger was superior to all others. The combined activities led to Rogers’ choking, which his companion failed to notice, having decided at last to see what the big deal was. “It really is pretty good, but I’m still not sure it’s my favorite,” said Dave, adding that he would miss Marco.

Heather Nichols, 24, and Ryan Elko, 28, both of St. Paul, were found dead in the Mall of America Tuesday morning following a simultaneous starvation that authorities say highlights the dangers of Tinder dates with passive-aggressive partners. Surveillance tape shows the would-be couple arrived at the mall at 4 p.m., and spent the next six hours passing by hundreds of stores, counters, and restaurants, pointing at various menu items, and shrugging. They died within 15 feet of the counter at Poukei, where Nichols had hesitated, explaining she liked sushi and burritos, but wasn’t sure if she was in the mood for a sushi burrito.

Ibrahim Samatar, 27, his wife Sahra, 28, and their two children were killed in a construction accident in Minneapolis when a team of developers were in such a rush to build a high-end apartment complex they forgot to force out the Samatars and tear down their home. Apartments start at $1,300 for a one-bedroom. Street parking available.

Nicole Bach, 68 , of Maplewood, was crushed to death last weekend while posing next to the “world’s largest ball of twine” in Darwin, Minnesota. Bach’s husband, Rocky, had thought it would be “neat” to sneak the 18,000-pound ball out of its gazebo enclosure for a better photograph, but discovered almost immediately he could not control the 12-foot spheroid. Nicole’s last words as she fled the beloved local landmark were: “Why couldn’t it have been the biggest cube?”

Nick Babbitt, 30, of White Bear Lake, volunteered to be the first participant in the Minnesota Science Museum’s novel new “Understanding the Corn Industry” exhibit, but did not survive its inaugural run. Babbitt, a teacher and the husband of a museum employee, was doused in animal feces, forced to drink a gallon of ammonia, encouraged to vomit into a local water supply, and then fed to pigs. His remains were liquefied for use in Coca-Cola.

Carrie Jo Newton, 47, of Minneapolis, was set upon by an angry mob of colleagues and torn to pieces after reaching for the last slice of birthday cake during an office break room party. Each of the 11 co-workers present at the time admitted playing some role in Newton’s violent end, according to police reports, which indicate the dozen of them had been making small talk and hovering awkwardly around the lone remaining piece for 40 minutes before Newton made her move. Suspects variously explained Newton “knew what she did,” was “probably already burning in Hell,” and “must’ve been from somewhere else, New York or Chicago maybe, to think she can act like that and get away with it.”

Diane Martinson, 26, of Roseville, was declared dead on Friday after she and the Prius she was driving disappeared into one of St. Paul’s infamous potholes. Witnesses to the bizarre, though not unheard of, accident said the hole was deep enough they did not hear the vehicle hit bottom. If there is a bottom: Experts with the Department of Natural Resources believe the pothole may in fact be a “secret” mouth to the Mississippi River, while scientists at the University of Minnesota have speculated it may somehow be connected to Hawaiian volcanoes.

Robbie Swenson, 17, of Duluth, died last week after injuries sustained during a class field trip to the Hull-Rust-Mahoning taconite mine in Hibbing. Swenson, who surreptitiously had headphones in throughout the trip and could not hear his teacher or mine employees, mistook a pile of taconite pellets for a complimentary sample of a high-protein, low-sugar cereal favored by the miners. After consuming the metal bits, Swenson was heard to say something about getting “totally swole,” though he soon clutched his stomach and keeled over.

Phillip Schmidt, 41, of Caledonia, will be remembered as a tragic hero after bravely agreeing to a drinking contest with a Wisconsin native. According to witnesses, the two began their drink-off in the late evening hours of May 14... 2007. During the interceding decade-plus, their contest paused only twice, for 10 minutes each time, to allow Schmidt to attend his daughter’s wedding (which, conveniently, happened to be held at the bar) and his wife’s divorce party (same).

Pete Amundsen, 60, of Becker, could not be revived after experimenting with what he thought was a promising mash-up of Midwestern food culture and a classic party game, ignoring friends’ and relatives’ warnings about “Bobbing for Cheese Curds.” The concept has also been withdrawn from possible inclusion in this year’s Sherburne County Fair. Friends writing on Letovski’s Facebook wall remembered him as “sweet,” “maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” and “perfectly golden brown.”

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