At 32-years-old, Joseph Burrus had made a name for himself as an amateur magician. Specifically, the name was “Amazing Joe.” On October 31, 1990, Burrus planned on performing a stunt so spectacular that it would move him from working small crowds of children to a spot as a big time illusionist.
Looking more like someone from the 1920s, he set up his stunt at Blackbeard’s Family Fun Center in Fresno, CA. His plan was to be handcuffed, enter a clear coffin, lowered into a “grave,” and allow himself to be buried under three feet of dirt topped with four feet of cement. He would then free himself from the chains, burrow up through the dirt and cement, then appear to the wonderment and applause of his fans.
So, in front of an audience of 150, including his wife, two children, and parents, Burrus smiled and joked before being put into the box and lowered into the ground. Sadly, though Burrus was buried alive, he was pulled out of the grave dead.
After the workers had finished topping up the hole with cement, the level of whole slab sunk about two feet. Realizing the stunt had gone wrong, people rushed the grave and tried to dig Burrus out. He was eventually pulled out, but paramedics on the scene were unable to revive him. His death was due to asphyxia.
He had preformed a similar stunt before using only dirt. Reports state that he did not do enough testing or calculations for his equipment before deciding to add the cement to the act.
For more information here is an article from Ain't No Way To Go.
Also, here is a report on Burrus from "A Current Affair" :