Seventeen years ago today, model Fabio boarded a roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA, rode its tracks two hundred feet into the sky, and collided his face with a bird, killing it dead. Today we remember...as if we could ever forget.

Over at Esquire, Dustin Krcatovich recalls the life-altering day (kind of like Hindenburg disaster, but for geese) in harrowing terms:

Fabio (whose last name is Lanzoni, but we didn’t know that then and we certainly don’t need to know it now) wasn’t at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia to kill a goose; he was there to take a front row seat for the inaugural ride on Apollo’s Chariot, the theme park’s first “hypercoaster.” Apollo’s Chariot was—and is—a thing of towering beauty, the likes of which Virginians hadn’t seen. And the park’s promoters knew that they couldn’t settle for anything less than Fabio to lead its first charge.

Fabio was, and remains, a professional—you don’t pose for the covers of hundreds of romance novels by showing up to a gig without a clue—but even he couldn’t have prepared for what lay ahead. What, was he going to wear a helmet and cover that chiseled face, all that flowing hair? No, Fabio boarded Apollo’s Chariot like a more handsome version of everyone else, soaking in the momentousness of the event as part of a group, stepping down from his golden pedestal to be with “the people.”

It was while riding Apollo’s Chariot that, as you likely recall, a poor goose crashed into Fabio’s face, breaking his nose and ending its own life. A tragedy in no uncertain terms, but—damn, bird—what a way to go.

Images via YouTube.