The Darwin Awards, for the uninitiated, are an unofficial hats off to people who keep the gene pool clean by removing themselves from it creatively, in the most extraordinarily stupid ways. Yes, death-by-stupidity.
The Darwin Award for:
Best Game of Catch with a Rattlesnake
A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. Big deal you may say, but there’s a twist here that makes him a candidate. It seems he and a friend were playing catch with a rattlesnake. The friend (a future Darwin Awards candidate himself) was hospitalized.
Most Inventive Use of Gravity:
A 22-year-old Reston man was found dead yesterday after he tried to use accessory straps (the stretchy little ropes with hooks on each end) to bungee jump off a 70-foot railroad trestle, police said. Fairfax County police said Eric A. Barcia, a fast-food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together, wrapped an end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake Accotink Park, jumped ... and hit the pavement. Warren Carmichael, a police spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found nearby. “The length of the cord that he had assembled was greater than the distance between the trestle and the ground.” Police say the apparent cause of death was “major trauma”. An autopsy is scheduled for later in the week.
The Most Professional, uh, ahem, Professional
In a west Texas town, employees in a medium-sized warehouse
noticed the smell of gas. Sensibly, management evacuated the
building, extinguishing all potential sources of
ignition-lights, power, etc. After the building had been
evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were
dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had
difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration,
none of the lights worked. Witnesses later described the
scene of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and
retrieving an object that resembled a lighter. Upon
operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the
warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles
away. Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter
was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician
that was suspected of causing the explosion had never been
thought of as “bright” by his peers.
Best Fourth of July Fireworks Display
Three young men in Oklahoma were enjoying the coming Fourth of July holiday and wanted to test fire some fireworks. The only real problem was, their launch pad and seating arrangements were atop a several hundred thousand gallon fuel distillation storage tank. Oddly enough, fumes were ignited, producing a fireball seen for miles. They were launched several hundred feet into the air and found dead some 250 yards from their respective seats. An eye-witnesses said, "that was the best Fourth of July Fireworks display I've every seen!"
Challenging God to Prove Himself
A lawyer and two buddies were fishing on Caddo Lake in Texas when a lightning storm hit. Most of the other boats immediately headed for the shore, but not our friend the lawyer. Alone on the rear of his aluminum bass boat with his buddies, this individual stood up, spread his arms wide and shouted: “HERE I AM LORD, LET ME HAVE IT!” Needless to say, God delivered. The other two passengers on the boat survived the lightning strike with minor burns.
Walking with a Cell Phone
Not much was given to me on this unlucky fellow, but he qualifies nonetheless. You see, there was a gentleman from Korea who was killed by his cell phone ... more or less. He was doing the usual “walking and talking” when he walked into a tree and managed to somehow break his neck. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to drive and text or dial at the same time.
This Year's Darwin Award Nominee:
One day, the Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded into the side of a cliff which rose above the road at the apex of a curve. The wreckage resembled the site of an airplane crash - but it was a car. The type of car was unidentifiable at the scene. The lab finally figured out what it was, and what had happened.
It seems that a guy had somehow gotten hold of a Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) unit. This is actually a solid fuel rocket used to give heavy military transport planes an extra "push" for taking off from short airfields. He had driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. Then he attached the JATO unit to his car, jumped in, got up some speed, and fired off the JATO.
The reconstructed facts:
The operator of the 1967 Impala hit the JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3.0 miles from the crash site. (This was estimated by the deeply scorched and melted asphalt at that location.) The JATO unit, if operating properly, would have reached maximum thrust within 5 seconds, causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 mph and continuing at full power for an additional 20-25 seconds. The driver, soon to be pilot, would have experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog-fighting F14 jocks under full afterburners, basically causing him to become insignificant for the remainder of the event.
However, the automobile remained on the straight highway for about 2.5 miles (15-20) seconds before the driver applied and completely melted the brakes, blowing the tires, and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface. The car then became airborne for an additional 1.4 miles and hit the cliff face at a height of 125 feet, leaving a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock.
Most of the driver's remains were not recoverable; however,
small fragments of bone, teeth, and hair, were removed from
the crater and fingernail and bone shards were removed from
a piece of the debris believed to be a portion of the
And a near winner, and future Darwin Award candidate:
A Vermont native, Ronald Demuth, found himself in a difficult position yesterday. While touring the Eagle’s Rock African Safari (Zoo) with a group of thespians from St. Petersburg, Russia, Mr. Demuth went overboard to show them one of America’s many marvels. He demonstrated the effectiveness of “Crazy Glue” ... the hard way.
Apparently, Mr. Demuth wanted to demonstrate just how good the adhesive was, so he put about 3 ounces of the stuff in the palms of his hands and jokingly placed them on the buttocks of a passing rhino. The rhino, a resident of the zoo for the past thirteen years, was not initially startled as it has been part of the petting exhibit since its arrival as a baby. However, once it became aware of its being involuntarily stuck to Mr. Demuth, it began to panic and ran around the petting area wildly making Mr. Demuth an unintended passenger.
“Sally [the rhino] hasn’t been feeling well lately. She had been very constipated. We had just given her a laxative and some depressants to relax her bowels shortly before Mr. Demuth played his juvenile prank,” said James Douglass, caretaker. During Sally’s tirade two fences were destroyed, a shed wall was gored, and a number of small animals escaped. Also, during the stampede, three pygmy goats and one duck were stomped to death.
As for Demuth, it took a team of medics and zoo caretakers over four hours to remove his hands from the rhino’s buttocks. First, the animal had to be captured and calmed down. And during this process the laxatives began to take effect and Mr. Demuth was repeatedly showered with over 30 gallons of rhino diarrhea. “It was tricky. We had to calm her down, while at the same time shield our faces from being pelted with rhino dung. I guess you could say that Mr. Demuth was into it up to his neck. Once she was under control, we had three people with shovels working to keep an air passage open for Mr. Demuth. We were able to tranquilize her and apply a solvent to remove his hands from her rear,” said Douglass. “I don’t think he’ll be playing with Crazy Glue for a while.”
Meanwhile, the Russians, while obviously amused, also were impressed with the power of the adhesive. “I’m going to buy some for my children, but of course they can’t take it to the zoo,” commented Vladimir Zolnikov, leader of the troupe.