(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.