- The magician was buried under 7 tons of dirt and wet concrete, chained and handcuffed.
- A simple, but a critical mistake of not calculating the weight of the dirt and concrete cost him his life; the plastic coffin collapsed while hundreds of people were watching and filming the event.
Joseph Burrus thought he knew what it took to be The Next Houdini and Greater, but seven tons of dirt and wet concrete shattered his dreams and the plastic coffin that he used to perform the impossible escape that would have made Houdini proud.
He had successfully performed a similar stunt a year ago, using only dirt over the coffin. Tired of doing magic for the local kids, on October 31, 1990, the 32-year-old magician planned a stunt so spectacular that he was sure would bring him to next level. Immediately prior to his last tragic stunt, Burrus exclaimed “I consider myself a master of illusion and an escape artist.”
His greatest trick took place at a local amusement park. Hundreds of people were watching, including his children Joey and Joshua.
On the night of his death, Burrus was wearing a white tuxedo. Chained and handcuffed, he was laying in the plastic glass coffin that was then buried in a 7-foot grave. The act was filmed and projected onto a large video screen. The act was even broadcasted on live radio.
The crowd watched anxiously when the grave was filled with seven tons of dirt and wet concrete. His crew kept pouring the concrete until suddenly, the grave dropped two feet. It was obvious that the plastic coffin had collapsed and Burrus was choking.
Burrus made a critical mistake. Unfortunately, he made no attempt to calculate the weight of the dirt and concrete that he had planned to pour on top of the plastic coffin. After 30 minutes of digging, Burrus escaped from under the rubble, but the paramedics declared him dead. He died from asphyxia.
Just like the sensational escape artist Harry Houdini, Joseph Burrus also died on the night of Halloween. May God give him eternal rest and may he put his soul where the righteous rest.
“The easiest way to attract a crowd is to let it be known that at a given time and a given place someone is going to attempt something that in the event of failure will mean sudden death.”
- Harry Houdini