This is a different kind of riddle. With this one, you may ask me as many yes or no questions as you like.
A man died because the number was 88 too high.
After a series of chat Q&A, dan04 and I figured it out (see the chat discussion for details):
A British man in the United States was dying, and dialed the only emergency number he knew, which was 999. He didn't realize that the number in the US is actually 911.
Per our discussion in chat:
A British man was visiting the US when he experienced a life-threatening injury. He dialed 999 in an attempt to reach an ambulance service, but it didn't work. Not knowing the US emergency number (911) but knowing it was three digits, he tried to find it by serial-dialing 998, 997, etc. But he bled to death before he could get to his 88th attempt.