Monday, September 7, 2015

Escape artist rescued during Buried Alive stunt

The Huddersfield Examiner reports that escapologist Antony Britton is "lucky to be alive" after losing consciousness during a Buried Alive stunt at Slaithwaite Spa in the UK. Britton had hoped to escape after being handcuffed and buried in a standard-sized grave under six feet of soil. He was hauled out unconscious by crew members when he failed to appear after almost nine minutes.

"I almost died," he said. "I was just seconds away from death. It was scary. The pressure of the soil was crushing around me. Even when I found an air pocket, when I exhaled the soil around me was crushing me even more. I could feel myself losing consciousness and there was nothing I could do about it. I was pretty much dying."

"But everyone was on the ball and the crew was well-drilled. They knew pretty much where I would be under the soil and after the digger had moved in behind me, the team were hand-balling the soil until they could reach me."

Britton's stunt was a duplicate of a Buried Alive escape Houdini performed in California. Houdini had much the same harrowing experience. He quickly discovered the "weight of the earth is killing," and after failing to be heard when he called for help, his was able to just break the surface before losing consciousness. His assistants then pulled him from the ground.

In 1949, escape artist Alan Alan also attempted a Buried Alive escape without a container, and also had to be rescued. On Halloween 1990, magician Joseph Burrus was killed during a Buried Alive stunt when his casket collapsed under the weight.

Britton was taken to a waiting ambulance where he was given oxygen before regaining consciousness. He sustained a cracked rib and several scratches. He says he won't be attempting the Buried Alive escape again.



  1. Malaka.

    "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

    George Santayana

  2. In a very controlled environment such as Houdini's stage version of buried alive this escape is pretty straightforward. Buried under heavy earth underground is dangerous no matter who is attempting this escape.

  3. And Houdini wasn't fool enough to handcuff himself as well. It's amazing how every stunt performer today feels that they have to 'best' Houdini by doing a more daring version of his stunts. My feelings are, if he wasn't willing to do it, it must have been really dangerous. What makes them think that they can manage it?


  4. The weight of the earth plus how compacted the earth is upon you is what makes the escape so dangerous. Using sand as an example would make it easier to dig oneself out as opposed to compacted and perhaps wet earth. On the other side of the coin however sand flows so freely it then becomes difficult to create pockets where a few breaths can be taken. So no easy way out.

  5. A sad commentary is: If the stunt was successful...would there be as much publicity & press as generated by this failure? I think not.

    1. That's true. I wouldn't have it up on the blog.

  6. The Buried Alive stunt has always been dangerous, but that doesn't stop people from doing it. The unfortunate thing from my perspective is that this was done to raise money for a charity. How must the charity feel when the stunt goes bad??? In his defense, it seems that Antony Britton has a background in escapes, so this is not his first go at escapology. And he was smart to have a trained crew on hand who knew how to handle the situation when things went wrong. Just glad he is ok.

  7. Hi, thank you for your support and interest in Escape For Life. Since 2012 Antony Britton has taken on some amazing escape challenges to support various charities.

    This years "Buried Alive" challenge is raising much needed funding for the Bloodwise leukaemia charity and your support would make a massive difference to thousands of lives.

    For more information on Escape For Life please visit

    Please be generous and donate to Escape For Life at

    And to find out more about this years supported charity BlooWise, visit

    Thank you

    "The Team"
    Escape For Life