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I migliori Premi Darwin
LE MANIERE PIÙ STUPIDE PER FARSI FUORI
organizzàti per data, selezionàti, riassunti (meno del 27% degli originali) e tradotti da JB - aggiornato all'11 Settembre 2002
I Premi Darwin commemorano tutte quelle persone che hanno migliorato il DNA della nostra razza smettendo di farne parte in modi assai stupidi.
È risaputo che l'albero della vita si pota da sè, e i vincitori dei Premi Darwin si eliminano in maniere straordinariamente idiote - e così facendo aumentano le probabilità che ha la nostra specie di sopravvivere a lungo.
Nel XII secolo l'imperatore del Sacro Romano Impero Federico I partì per la terza crociata, alla riconquista della Terra Santa. Dopo aver marciato per giorni e giorni attraverso il secco deserto estivo, Federico s'imbattè nel fiume Saleph, si buttò alle spalle ogni cautela - anzichè la sua pesante armatura - e si tuffò a capofitto nel fiume, dove andò a fondo ed affogò.
Attila, capo degli Unni, morì a causa di una banale epistassi durante la notte del suo matrimonio: era troppo ubriaco per rendersi conto che gli sanguinava il naso, e così affogò in una pozza del suo stesso sangue.
Tycho Brahe, l'astronomo danese del XVI secolo, morì perchè arrivò troppo tardi in bagno. A quei tempi era considerato un insulto abbandonare il desco prima della fine del banchetto, e lui - troppo beneducato per assentarsi un attimo - preferì tenersela, causandosi un blocco intestinale che lo uccise di morte lenta e dolorosa nell'arco degli 11 giorni successivi.
Francesco Bacone morì mentre stava riempiendo di neve un pollo. L'aveva colpito l'idea che al posto del sale si potesse usare la neve, per conservare la carne. Per verificare la sua teoria uscì in mezzo alla neve cercando di riempire il pollo. Il pollo non si congelò. Bacone sì.
5 Novembere 1605, Inghilterra. .. Guy Fawkes e altri cospiratori si erano asserragliati in una casa, ed era cominciata una sparatoria - ma, siccome pioveva, la loro polvere da sparo era troppo umida per poter essere utilizzata. E così la sparsero sul pavimento davanti al camino per farla asciugare. Provate un po' a indovinare cosa è successo, quando un lapillo è saltato fuori dal camino ed è caduto sulla polvere da sparo che si stava asciugando..
1863: Vallandigham, un avvocato, stava difendendo un suo cliente dall'accusa di omicidio. Nel tentativo di dimostrare che la vittima si era uccisa da sola, estraendo male l'arma dal fodero, Vallandigham usò la stessa arma che però era ancora carica e lo uccise. Ma vinse la causa.
SPAPPOLATO DA UN CACTUS Febbraio 1982, Arizona: il ventisettenne David ha fatto fuoco su un cactus che gli è caduto addosso spappolandolo. Dalle testimonianze risulta che ha fatto fuori due caricatori di mitragliatrice a 16 canne contro un cactus alto oltre 8 metri, poi ha cominciato a fare il "grido di battaglia" dei boscaioli: "Cadeeeee!" - ma non è andato oltre la prima sillaba prima di venir schiacciato.
LEZIONE DI FISICA 5 Luglio 1984, Chicago: due amici decidono di fare una gara di corsa giù per un lungo corridoio al 39esimo piano. Reginald, che non indossava le sue lenti a contatto per via di un'irritazione alla cornea, ha valutato male la distanza che lo separava dalla vetrata in fondo ed è precipitato giù impattando al suolo a una velocità di circa 94 miglia. Il 39esimo piano era l'unico con una vetrata a parete, ma prima di chiamarlo sfigato considerate che s'era tolto le scarpe e correva sul pavimento di marmo coi soli calzini.
PRIAPISMO SUICIDA 1988: i dottori mettono in guardia da un nuovo modo assai pericoloso di farsi di eroina senza lasciarsi tracce addosso: iniettarsela direttamente nel tratto urinario. "Riempiono un contagocce o una siringa di una soluzione di acqua e cocaina e se la iniettano direttamente attraverso il pene", spiegò il dottor Samuel Perry, professore di psichiatria clinica. Un trentaquattrenne, che l'aveva fatto per incrementare la sua potenza sessuale, venne ricoverato in ospedale perchè il pene gli era rimasto in erezione per tre giorni, e il dolore gli rendeva impossibile fare urinare. Dopo tre giorni di ricovero, l'erezione improvvisamente sparì - ma nelle 12 ore successive, avvennero infiltrazioni di sangue nei tessuti dei piedi, delle mani, dei genitali, della schiena e del torace. Coaugulandosi, il sangue faceva morire tessuti in vaste aree del corpo, e i dottori (per arrestare l'espandersi della cancrena) furono costretti ad amputargli le gambe a livello del ginocchio e tutte le dita delle mani tranne una. Il pene gli cadde da sè.
PESSIMO TEMPISMO 3 Febbraio 1990, Washington: un uomo ha tentato di effettuare una rapina, probabilmente il suo primo tentativo, visto che non aveva precedenti penali ma soprattutto vista la quantità di cazzate che è riuscito a fare:
Ha scelto di svaligiare un'armeria
L'armeria era piena di clienti, e si trovava in uno stato dove buona parte degli adulti gira armato
Per entrare nel negozio ha dovuto aggirare un'automobile della polizia parcheggiata proprio lì davanti
Il poliziotto era proprio uno dei clienti, e stava bevendosi un caffè davanti alla cassa poco prima di tornare in servizio
Come si accorge del poliziotto, il tentato-rapinatore intima a tutti di alzare le mani e spara qualche colpo di avvertimento - non fa in tempo a fare altro, poichè il poliziotto e un commesso rispondono al fuoco, stroncandogli la carriera di rapinatore sul nascere.
ANIMALI INTELLIGENTI (1)
1991, Nicosia, Cipro: un serpente ha sparato a un cacciatore iraniano, avvolgendo la sua coda sul grilletto mentre il cacciatore gli schiacciava la testa a terra col calcio del fucile.
MUTO COME UN PESCE 1992, Zambia: un ventottenne è morto soffocato da un pesce vivo che gli s'è conficcato in gola mentre lui cercava di staccargli la testa con un morso. Il giovane ha cercato di cavarsi il pesce dalla gola con un bastoncino, riuscendo però soltanto a conficcarlo ancora più giù.
PANCAKE PANTRY THIEF 1992, Tennessee: di prima mattina un ladro si è calato giù per il camino di un ristorante - nudo, perchè il passaggio era troppo stretto per entrarci coi vestiti. All'apertura del locale, il personale del ristorante è rimasto sconvolto nel trovare un paio di gambe che penzolavano a pochi centimetri dalla griglia: pare che, nel calarsi dal camino, il ladro sia scivolato e sia rimasto impigliato col braccio sotto il mento fino a soffocare.
CHE D'È? UN SERPENTE TI HA MORSO LA LINGUA? 1992, California: si sa che i serpenti fanno sporgere la lingua per annusare l'ambiente circostante, raccogliendo molecole in sospensione nell'aria e poi spingendosele su per i canali olfattivi. Un ventenne ubriaco se ne stava all'ombra quando vide un serpente che gli faceva le linguacce, così lo piglia, se lo mette davanti alla faccia, e ricambia. Il serpente però non gradisce e gli morde la lingua, attraverso la quale il veleno rapidamente si diffonde in tutta la faccia e nella gola, facendolo soffocare.
CHIAMATA DI MEZZANOTTE 21 Dicembre 1992, Nord Carolina: Ken Charles Barger, 47 anni, si è sparato per sbaglio con la Smith & Wesson .38 Special che teneva sul comodino - afferrandola al posto della cornetta del telefono che l'aveva svegliato di soprassalto.
L'ULTIMA CENA 25 Marzo 1993: pessime abitudini alimentari e una stanza priva di ventilazione pare siano la causa della morte di un'uomo che s'è ucciso coi suoi stessi gas. Non c'erano segni sul suo corpo, ma l'autopsia ha riscontrato la presenza di grosse quantità di metano dissolte nel suo sangue. La sua dieta consisteva principalmente di fagioli e cavoli, la perfetta combinazione di cibi per causare flatulenza. Si direbbe che l'uomo sia morto nel sonno. Tre soccorritori si sono sentiti male, e uno di loro è stato portato in ospedale.
UNA RICOSTRUZIONE PERFETTA 23 Ottobre 1993, Illinois: un poliziotto stava spiegando a un altro poliziotto in che modo un loro collega si era sparato per errore una settimana prima, ma aveva dimenticato di scaricare la sua .357 Magnum, così si è sparato nello stomaco. E' morto quando la sua auto è andata a schiantarsi mentre stava guidando verso l'ospedale.
TIRED AMMO 1990’s, United States, in the southwest: a small-time hood (about to be even smaller) broke into the home of a World War Two veteran and stole .. the old G.I.'s .45 automatic pistol, which he used in battle in the 1940's. The hoodlum then reported directly to a local convenience store and proceeded to rob the cashier while brandishing his new pistol. .. Our thug .. decided he didn’t want to leave a witnesses. .. He leveled the pistol at the cashier and pulled the trigger. "CLICK!" went the gun. .. As it turned out, the WWII veteran had WWII vintage ammunition in his WWII vintage pistol. Priming caps over time are known to lose their "spontaneous" nature, particularly if stored improperly, causing what is known as a hang-fire: The primer smolders into a delayed ignition. .. Just as the puzzled crook had the barrel pointed squarely at his own eye, the hang-fired primer detonated, sending a half-inch chunk of lead and associated hot combustion gases directly into the felon's skull at 900 feet per second. The range was less than six inches. The body could only be identified by fingerprints. ..
JUNK FOOD JUNKIE 1994?: Man found pinned under vending machine. (A robbery attempt gone bad? That's my bet.) [And] damned if this didn't happen again! [On] 5 January 2001, .. a student once again offed himself by pulling a vending machine on top of himself. ..
JET ASSISTED TAKE-OFF The Arizona Highway Patrol .. came upon a pile of smoldering wreckage embedded in the side of a cliff rising above the road. .. The metal debris resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it turned out to be the vaporized remains of an automobile. .. It seems that a former Air Force sergeant had somehow got hold of a JATO (Jet Assisted Take-Off) unit. JATO units are solid fuel rockets used to give heavy military transport airplanes an extra push for take-off from short airfields. Dried desert lakebeds are the location of choice for breaking the world ground vehicle speed record. The sergeant took the JATO unit into the Arizona desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. He attached the JATO unit to his car, jumped in, accelerated to a high speed, and fired off the rocket. .. He ignited the JATO unit approximately 3.9 miles from the crash site. This was established by the location of a prominently scorched and melted strip of asphalt. The vehicle quickly reached a speed of between 250 and 300 mph and continued at that speed, under full power, for an additional 20-25 seconds. [Then] the driver applied the brakes, completely melting them, blowing the tires, and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface. The vehicle then became airborne for an additional 1.3 miles, impacted the cliff face at a height of 125 feet, and left a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock. Most of the driver's remains were not recovered; however, small fragments of bone, teeth, and hair were extracted from the crater, and fingernail and bone shards were removed from a piece of debris believed to be a portion of the steering wheel. Ironically a still-legible bumper sticker was found, reading "How do you like my driving? Dial 1-800-EAT-SHIT."
(This Darwin Award is the most popular of all time. Considered true for years, it was later debunked as an Urban Legend by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. .. Keith Cody reports, "Steve Lubars called the Arizona Highway Patrol in July 1996 to research this story. According to Charles DeCarolis at the Arizona Department of Public Safety, "No such incident has ever been described in any Highway Patrol accident or crime scene reports," and he said I could quote him 'on the record.'") ..
ELECTRIFYING STUNT 1995, Michigan: up here in Michigan, seems some poor fella thought it would be a good idea to "move" a downed wire from his car. Newspaper reports it took a FULL MINUTE of neighbors whacking away at him with a 2x4 to free their freshly fried former friend from the fatal flashing.
REPAIRS ON THE ROAD March 1995, Michigan: James Burns, 34, .. got a friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath so that he could ascertain the source of a troubling noise. Burns' clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns "wrapped in the drive shaft."
NIAGARA FALLS 1 October 1995, Canada: Horseshoe Falls is on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Over a decade ago, a daredevil named Robert equipped himself with a homemade rocket-parachute contraption and rode a jet ski over Horseshoe Falls at full throttle. He planned to ignite the rocket to propel him clear of the falls, then deploy the parachute and float down to the river below, where he would be fished out by the Maid o' the Mist tour boat. But the water had a dampening effect on his equipment. The rocket failed to ignite and the parachute failed to deploy. However, the third phase of his scheme did work according to plan. His corpse was recovered from the river below by the Maid o' the Mist staff. .. Gregg says, ".. I have lived in Niagara Falls most of my whole life and know this story well. The real reason the man died was because he could not swim; he drowned! He survived the crash, but didn't think to wear a life jacket."
FISHMAN 29 November 1995, Australia: .. Neil's death was shrouded in mystery, tragedy, and a fish suit. Local law enforcement officials said the 49-year-old man was wearing a "heavy, green plastic bodysuit," which he apparently constructed from old waterbed material. The suit, from which one could only be extricated painstakingly after unfastening a full-length zipper along the spine, constricted his legs into one mermaidesque tail. The only openings in the suit, aside from the zipper, were two eyeholes. Neil's garb, enclosing his entire body like a maritime mummy costume, restricted his breathing as well as his movement. He was discovered in this attire .. less than a kilometer from Toolondo Lake. He apparently had attempted to swim back to his home. A second, yellow-colored suit was found in his garage. The psychological motivation for Neil's fatal excursion remains unclear .. but locals have their own theories about the aquatic abberation: "He wanted to be a fish," disclosed one unnamed resident, recalling incidents in which Wilson would swing from a rope while wearing the suit at the lake. ..
LAWYER ALOFT 1996, Toronto: .. a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane of glass with his shoulder and plunged twenty-four floors to his death. [He] had previously conducted the demonstration of window strength without mishap. ..
PLAYING WITH CATS 2 January 1996, India: .. Prakesh Tiwari .. and Suresh Rai had been drinking, [then tried] to put [a] garland on a 13-year old male Royal Bengal tiger named "Shiva" after the Hindu god of destruction. When Rai threw the garland around Shiva's neck, the tiger attacked him. His friend Tiwari intervened, kicking the tiger in the face. The tiger released Rai, and attacked and killed Tiwari. ..
SET THE PARKING BRAKE, STUPID! .. A family visiting the lake drove up to the boat ramp but forgot to set the parking brake. The car rolled into the lake, drowning two adults and two children.
MACHO MEN? .. Two guys got drunk and started to make macho type bets. .. One man laid his head down and bet the one with an axe that he was not be brave enough to make the cut.
HUNGRY PYTHON KILLS OWNER 11 October 1996, New York: a teenager was crushed to death by his pet python after he had failed to keep the snake properly fed. .. At the time of the attack, Mr Williams was preparing to feed Damien a live chicken. It is possible that the python, peckish, opted for the larger prey.
(.. Skepticism from Pete Butler [and] Todd Cook ..: "I find it hard to believe that the snake was hunger-crazed. .. Herpetologists speculate that that the young man forgot to wash the chicken smell from his hands. .. Still, letting a TWELVE FOOT BLOODY PYTHON roam free in your home definitely makes you a Darwin candidtate.")
CIGARETTE LIGHTER TRIGGERS FATAL EXPLOSION 4 December 1996, Indiana: .. Gregory David Pryor, 19, .. was cleaning a .54-caliber muzzleloader that had not been firing properly. He was using the lighter to look into the barrel when the gunpowder ignited. ..
POOR DRIVING RUNS IN THE FAMILY 23 May 1997, Kansas: a Wichita woman who allowed her 10-year-old son to back the family car down the driveway stumbled while directing the boy and was fatally run down when he stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake. ..
BUNGEE JUMPER 13 July 1997, Virginia: Eric A. Barcia, .. 22-year-old, .. taped a number of bungee cords together and strapped one end around his foot. .. He even remembered to measure the length of the bungee cords to make sure that they were a few feet short of the 70 foot drop. He proceeded to fall headfirst from the trestle, and hit the pavement 70 feet below several seconds later. Fairfax County police said "The stretched length of the cord that he had assembled was greater." ..
SCRAP METAL THIEVES 31 July 1997: two teens were disassembling an electric tower with wrenches when it toppled to the ground. They apparently wanted to sell its aluminum supports for scrap, but they failed to realize the essential role the aptly named "support" plays in a 160-foot tower. One of the men was crushed by the collapse of the ten-thousand-pound tower, while the other dug himself out from under. ..
OUT OF THEIR HEADS 23 August 1997, Holland: .. two men had their heads out of the window, singing as the wind blew across their faces, when the bus entered a viaduct. ..
NO BIKE LANE AT THE AIRPORT December 1997, Brazil: a bicyclist crossing an airport runway in Sorocaba, Sao Paulo, was killed when he was hit by a landing airplane. Marcelo Dias dos Santos, 25, could not hear the plane coming because he was listening to his Walkman on headphones, investigators said.
I'M A MAN, I CAN HANDLE IT November 1997, Pennsylvania: Wayne Roth, 38, of Pittston, was bitten by a cobra belonging to his friend, Roger Croteau, after playfully reaching into the tank and picking up the snake. Wayne subsequently refused to go to a hospital, telling Roger, "I'm a man, I can handle it." .. Instead of a hospital, Wayne reported to a bar. He had three drinks, and enjoyed bragging that he had just been bitten by a cobra. Cobra venom is a slow-acting central nervous system toxin. He died within a few hours. ..
ESCAPING CONVICTION December 1997, Pennsylvania: a prisoner in the new Allegheny County Jail .. constructed a hundred-foot rope of bedsheets, broke through a .. cell window, began to climb to freedom down his makeshift ladder. [He] certainly did not take into account the sharp edges of the glass, the worn nature of the bedsheet, nor the great distance to the pavement. The bottom of the knotted bedsheet was 86 feet short of the ground. But our hero did not reach the end of the rope. The window pane sliced through the weak cloth and dropped him to his untidy demise 150 feet below.
PRIVACY ON THE BEACH 4 December 1997, North Carolina: .. Daniel Jones suffocated when a sandy 8-foot hole caved in as he relaxed inside it on a beach chair. Observers .. said he might have dug the hole for privacy and for protection from the wind. ..
FATAL FLASHER 21 December 1997, Texas: a Dallas man who was exposing himself to passing traffic died Friday night. .. As officers approached, he grabbed his clothes and ran back onto the railroad trestle. He leapt from the trestle, apparently aiming for a concrete support underneath, but missed and fell 35 feet to the ground. He died at Parkland hospital an hour later.
WIFE TOSSING (1)
1998, Buenos Aires: .. during a heated marital dispute, a 25-year-old man picked up his 20-year-old wife and threw her off their eighth-floor apartment balcony [but] she became tangled in the power lines below. He immediately leapt from the balcony and fell towards his wife, [maybe] remorsefully hoping to rescue her. .. He missed the power lines completely, and plunged to his death. The woman managed to swing over to a nearby balcony and was saved.
GUY GULPS GOLDFISH 29 January 1998, Ohio: .. Michael .. was .. watching a friend clean his fish tank. .. The friend complained that one fish in particular had become a menace. It had outgrown the tank and was eating other specimens. Egged on by a dare, Michael, who had swallowed smaller fish before. .. He seized the 5-inch fish and attempted to swallow it. Unfortunately, it stuck in his throat. .. Paramedics .. arrived to find the fish tail still protruding from the victim's mouth. .. The 23-year-old could not be resuscitated. The killer fish had claimed one last victim. ..
SKI THEFT BACKFIRES February 1998: Matthew and his friends were sliding down a Mammoth Mountain ski run on a foam pad at 3am, when he crashed into a lift tower and died. His makeshift sledge of yellow foam had been stolen from the legs of a lift tower on Stump Alley. The cushion is meant to protect skiers who hit the tower, and the tower Matthew ran into was the one from which he had created his sledge. There's a moral in there somewhere.
MODUS OPERANDI MISFIRES 1 March 1998: Randy Nestor, 28, was a considerate car thief. When the stolen cars became hot, he didn't just abandon them, he torched them. Setting the cars on fire, he reasoned, helped the owners collect insurance on their vehicles. This criminal habit became his downfall. After a 10-year career of theft, Randy burned to death in Pittsburgh, PA in a van which he had set fire to from the inside. He hadn't realized that the door handle on the driver's side was broken. Friends tried to release him, but the door was locked. His burned body was found inside the van on Sunday.
LOVE FROM THE HEART March 1998, Tennessee: a teenage Knoxville boy read in an adult magazine that you could hook a cow heart up to a battery and create an organic sex toy. Thinking to improve on the original model, he hooked it up to the household current, electrocuting himself and setting fire to his house. ..
DYNAMITE AND BOATS DON'T MIX 16 June 1998, Illinois: a man drowned in Fox Lake after he and a friend inadvertently blasted a hole in the bottom of their rowboat with a quarter stick of dynamite. .. They intended to kill fish with the blast, not themselves, [but] a sudden gust of wind pushed their boat over the firecracker, and the boat sank about a hundred yards from shore. Daniel drowned; the friend swam safely to land.
PASSIONATE PLUNGE July 1998: a man with the unlikely ambition to jump off every river bridge in Norwich ended his athletic career with a 70-foot leap into three feet of water. Friends said the 34-year-old man had fulfilled his dream of jumping off every city bridge spanning the River Wensum. Having exhausted the bridge selection, this time he climbed to the top of a multi-story car park, looked down from the parapets and shouted an enquiry to onlookers asking how deep the water was. Then he plunged to his death in the shallow waters below. ..
DIVE TO DEATH 4 July, 1998, Texas: .. A Houston man .. purchased [a] backyard swimming pool. .. A few weeks later, .. in an unprecedented show of bravado, the man decided to climb onto his patio roof and dive into his pool. The man was six feet tall. His pool, typical for an above ground pool, was four feet deep. So when his head hit the bottom, his legs were still sticking two feet out of the water. The dive broke his neck. He and his family sued on the grounds of faulty installation and inappropriate location. .. The lawsuit was changed to a wrongful death claim when the pool owner passed away in December. ..
HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN AWARD 31 October 1998, Canada: for Halloween this year, a Canadian man named Gary dressed as a mummy by wrapping himself from head to toe in fluffy cotton batting. [Then] he carelessly lit a cigarette... and burst into flames, as the flammable costume ignited. His girlfriend .. dragged him into the yard before calling the fire department. .. Firefighters arrived within minutes, and found his entire costume reduced to ashes, right down to the white coveralls underneath. Gary was covered with second- and third-degree burns. He was conscious and kept repeating, "It's my fault". .. He was pronounced dead at Soldier's Memorial Hospital early the next morning. ..
ESCAPING CONVICTION (2)
3 November 1998: [another] prisoner .. tied eight bedsheets together and rappelled from his seventh-floor window, only to find the rope fell 25 feet short of the ground. .. He merely fractured his ankle and scraped his face.
COKE IS IT! 12 December 1998, Canada: .. Kevin, a 19-year-old Quebec student, killed himself .. while shaking a 420-kilogram Coke machine. .. He died beneath the soda machine, asphyxiated. .. "Even as it fell over, the vending machine did not let out a single can," the coroner reported. .. The report also states that toppled vending machines have caused at least 35 deaths and 140 injuries in the last twenty years. .. Kevin's .. family .. recently sued Coca-Cola, two related companies, and Bishop's University for "gross carelessness.", .. proffer[ing] several explanations for why Kevin's death was not his own fault. .. In response, a spokesperson for Coke said that Canadian machines are now labelled with a warning that "tipping or rocking may cause injury or death." ..
BASKETBALL PLAYER TAKES A DUNKING At Melbourne, Australia man was playing basketball .. using a hoop affixed to his garage. After slam-dunking the ball, he hung on the rim for a triumphant moment. The bricks gave way and the wall collapsed on the 20-year-old man, fatally crushing him. ..
CIRCULAR REASONING 1998, London: .. two workers .. fell 100 feet after drilling a hole through thick concrete without realizing they were standing in the center of the circle. ..
IGNITING FIREWORKS THE EASY WAY .. Two residents of villages in East Java [bought] a large quantity of firecrackers and connected their detonation fuses to a motorcycle battery. The two perpetrators proceeded to start the engine. The resulting explosion could be heard from a distance of two kilometers. ..
DO NOT DUCK UNDER A ROLLER COASTER 1998, California: [a man] lost his red baseball cap on the ride. It flew into an area under the coaster. As if the danger of ground directly beneath a speeding roller coaster was not self-evident, there were prominent "Restricted Area" signs every fifty feet. .. He climbed two fences to retrieve his hat, only to lose his head when a passenger's foot kicked his neck and derailed his plans. The woman broke her leg and lost her shoe, and is suing for damages.
DEAD SPITTER 1998, Fort Huachuca, Arizona: .. a 25-year-old soldier [trying] to win a high-altitude spitting contest .. backed away from the window, then hurled himself towards the metal guardrail while expectorating, in order to add momentum to his saliva. In a tragic miscalculation, his momentum carried him right over the railing, which he caught hold of for a fleeting moment before his grip slipped, sending him plummeting 24 feet to the concrete below. ..
GONE FISHIN' .. January 8, Taiwan, China: .. a 23-year-old Pingtung man died after eating fish he poisoned in a nearby ditch. Three days of diarrhea and vomiting led to his demise after he ate fish he caught by pouring toxic chemicals in the water at the suggestion of friends. ..
HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW .. January 1999, England: .. Rachel, 17-year-old, .. had been in the habit of chewing the ends of her tresses since early childhood, [until she died of it.] "The biochemical composition of hair makes it impossible for digestive juices in the stomach to break it down. It therefore accumulates, much like it builds up in the plughole of a bath or shower, attracting more hair and other food." .. Pathologist Nera Patel later measured the hairball - known as a trichobezoar - at 1 foot long, 10 inches wide and 4 inches thick. She said: "It was closely compacted and intertwined in the shape of a football. ..
SILENCED BY THE LAMBS 28 January 1999, England: a flock of sheep charged a .. farmer's wife and pushed her over a cliff to her death. ..
HARD WORK REWARDS 8 February 1999, Georgia: .. a 46 year old plumber .. used shovels to remove a manhole cover on a street and entered the aperture, [but] he neglected to set orange warning cones. Upon exiting the manhole, he was struck by the undercarriage of an oncoming car, and was killed.
UP IN SMOKE 5 March 1999, England: Christopher Piper [was drunk and] clumsily attempting to fill his butane lighter, spilling the flammable liquid on his jumper. .. The 35-year-old man flicked his lighter experimentally. .. As a side effect, he set his fuel-soaked jumper ablaze, turning into a fireball in his own living room! .. He flailed in terror and dove from the window into the street, setting fire to curtains and a BMW parked nearby as he attempted to beat out the flames with his hands. His efforts added more oxygen to the combustion, and the flames grew higher. .. He died shortly after arriving at [the] Hospital. ..
GOOD TRUMPS EVIL AT CHURCH 8 March 1999, Kenya: a middle-aged thief sat quietly through the Sunday service at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. But when the offering basket was passed, fellow worshippers were astonished to see him stashing handfuls of the money in his pockets. Realizing he had been spotted, the thief fled from the church and onto a busy highway, where a speeding bus killed him. The cause of death? An act of God. The moral? Don't annoy the ruler of the universe, or you just may wind up a Darwin Award.
COUPLE DIES IN HEARSE 21 March 1999, Bucharest: [a couple] couldn't wait to make love on Sunday. As soon as the car was parked, they consummated their passion. They died from carbon monoxide poisoning shortly thereafter, inside the vehicle they left running in the garage during their liaison. [The same thing happened to] a young Mexican couple [who] parked in a warehouse and left the engine running to provide air conditioning. In the enclosed location, the carbon monoxide-laden exhaust fumes seeped into the vehicle, fatally poisoning the couple. ..
JUSTICE IS SERVED 8 April 1999, Georgia: William .. was an abusive husband. Charges of battery and false imprisonment had been leveled against him for allegedly tying his common-law wife to their bed with an extension cord in 1997. According to the police report, he told her "he was not going to let her out, feed her or allow her to go to work." .. William was jailed for two months, .. before Rosemary begged a judge to send him home because she couldn't afford the rent alone. On Thursday, William doused Rosemary with gasoline and set her on fire. Then he wrenched a gas line loose, apparently to make her death like an accident. But his mislaid plan backfired, when the gas line ignited and blew him up. ..
DUM DUM BOUTIQUE 10 April 1999, New York: [a] 55-year old burglar [was] trying to break through the roof's window of a shop .. by bending back bars on the window. From this vantage point, he made a commanding move, and jumped into the store through this hole. Unfortunately, his sweater .. caught on one of the bent bars, which subsequently strangled him to death. ..
LAUGHING GAS 16 April 1999, Washington D.C.: .. two .. paramedics .. were found dead in their suburban home .. wearing respiratory masks attached to an empty canister of nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, produces a short-lived high, [but] like every other pure gas, it must be mixed with air or oxygen, lest it cause suffocation. Needless to say, Carol and Mark did not mix the nitrous oxide with air. What makes this story a true Darwin Award candidate is that both of the deceased had enough medical training to have known better. ..
THE BUMBERSHOOT 18 April 1999, Germany: a sword swallower died in Bonn after he put an umbrella down his throat - and accidentally pushed the button that opened it. ..
ROB THY NEIGHBOR 25 April 1999, Craigie Australia: Darren John Cowley was trying to break into a neighbor's house .. when he wrapped his jacket around his arm and bashed in the window. But the jagged shards tore through the protective cloth and severed an artery in his arm. The 32-year-old stumbled away from the house and through a park and collapsed 800 meters away from the crime scene. .. He had bled to death. ..
WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT? May 1999, Spain: two German tourists were enjoying the last day of vacation at Safari Park. .. Visitors driving through the park are cautioned not to open the windows, and to remain within their vehicle at all times. Frequent warning signs were posted in many languages, including German. While driving through a tiger grotto, Willhelm and his companion parked the car, emerged from it for reasons that are unclear, and locked the doors behind them. They were set upon by three Bengal tigers lurking in the brush nearby, [who] pounced on the unfortunate couple, breaking their necks and quickly silencing their screams. Security guards rushed to the scene, arriving to find the woman beheaded and the man disemboweled.
WIFE TOSSING (2)
18 May 1999, Panama City: .. a Dominican woman exacted her dying revenge on her boyfriend, who tossed her off their third-floor balcony, by dragging him down with her. ..
SNAKE CHARMER? May 1999, Thailand: a man known for his snake catching and charming skills was called to a neighbor's home .. and emerged victorious with the snake held aloft in a burlap sack. He was walking home with the snake, when villagers ran into him and asked to see the python. He pulled the snake from the sack and boldly wrapped it around his neck. The wild python, a five-foot-long coil of solid muscle, constricted around him and began to strangle him. He screamed for help vainly, for the petrified villagers were afraid to approach the serpent. Within minutes, Hie fell to the ground dead. ..
LOVE CRUSHED SEX June 1999, Florida: .. Stephanie, 29, was sentenced .. for the death of her husband Bryan, who was found in a pit with a board over his body, crushed beneath the rear wheel of his sports utility vehicle. Stephanie did not deny that she drove over her husband, but in her own defence she released tapes to the police showing her stomping small mammals to death. .. Such "crush" videos are sold to people who derive sexual pleasure from the sight of death, especially at the hands of a woman. .. As for her husband, his death under the wheels of his car was presumably a loving sex act between consenting adults. ..
FIREFIGHTERS IGNITE! 15 July 1999, Tennessee: seven firefighters .. decided to impress their Chief by surreptitiously setting fire to a house, then heroically extinguishing the blaze. The men apparently hatched the plan in order to help Daniel, a former firefighter, return to duty. Unfortunately, Daniel .. became trapped while pouring gasoline inside the house. Surrounded by smoke and flames, he was unable to escape, and died inside the burning house on June 26. His six accomplices are facing 87 years in prison for conspiracy, arson, and burglary. ..
THE WINNER GETS... A POST MORTEM August 1999, Australia: .. Allan, a 33-year-old computer technician, [won] a drinking competition .. with a 100-minute time limit and a sliding point scale ranging from 1 point for beer to 8 points for hard liquor. .. After several trips to the usual temple of overindulgence, the bathroom, Allan was helped back to his workplace to sleep it off, a condition that became permanent. A forensic pharmacologist estimated that after downing 34 beers, 4 bourbons, and 17 shots of tequila within 1 hour and 40 minutes, his blood alcohol level would have been 0.41 to 0.43% .. (8 times greater than Australia's legal driving limit of 0.05%). .. It is not known whether Allan required any further embalming.
10 August 1999: a man .. swerved off Route 2. .. His car plowed through a telephone pole and impacted a tree, where it burst into flames. [but he walked] away from the crash unhurt. However, when he looked back and noticed that his car was on fire, he tried to put it out, and electrocuted himself on one of the high voltage power lines that had fallen when he hit the telephone pole. ..
.. In London, Ohio .. a thief was killed while stealing tires ..: the jack holding up the truck slipped and crushed him.
Slovenia[n] fisherman Franc Filipic, 47, .. drowned after hooking a huge lake sheatfish and refusing to let go as he waded in and was pulled under. .. Divers found his body after a two-day search.
In a delicious serving of poetic justice, RJ Reynolds, the founder of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co., his son, RJ Reynolds II, and HIS son, RJ Reynolds III, all perished from lung cancer.
MENTAL ECLIPSE 11 August 1999: a 42-year-old man killed himself watching the eclipse while driving. [Another man] was hospitalized .. after he climbed a power pylon to get a good view and touched a 20,000-volt electricity cable. ..
LIGHTS OUT 13 August 1999, California: .. Scott, an aspiring young astronomer, .. bothered by the glare of a nearby streetlight, he broke into the base of the light pole and attempted to sever the 4000-volt power cord. He was pronounced dead .. shortly after his spectacularly aborted skywatching attempt. ..
INTELLIGENCE BLUNDERS 13 August 1999, Manila: a deadly explosion in the Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation was initially considered to be a terrorist act. But the ensuing investigation linked the event not to criminals, but to careless NBI agents smoking near .. grenades and other explosives. ..
SMARTER ANIMALS (2)
16 August 1999, Germany: a hunter .. was shot dead by his own dog on Monday. .. The animal is presumed to have pressed the trigger with its paw. .. Does the dog get the head mounted on a wall in its doghouse?
WET WILL HE 23 August 1999, Washington: .. Rodney was jet skiing [when] he noticed that his battery was beginning to fail. [So he docked,] then ran to the car for his battery charger, .. plugged the charger into a 110-volt outlet, and jumped onto his watercraft while holding the booster cable. Sizzle. He was found floating facedown beneath the dock later that evening. ..
DO NOT WIGGLE OUT OF A ROLLER COASTER 23 August 1999, Virginia: a New York student was killed Monday while riding in a stand-up roller coaster. .. An investigation revealed that the youth had engineered his own death by wriggling out of the harness so he could raise his hands in the air. During the first loop, his unrestrained body was thrown from the car to a catwalk, were they found him dead from a massive head wound. ..
WIPED OUT 4 September 1999, Tokyo, Japan: Shoshi was a part-time janitor. .. The elevator he was cleaning had water leaking from its ceiling, so he rode a second elevator up the shaft, climbed out its hidden side door, and hopped on top of the first elevator. As he cleaned the puddle from the roof, the car rose to the top floor, fatally crushing him. The 24-year-old had forgotten to turn off the leaking elevator before wiping up the spill, leaving the roof messier than before.
LIVING ON ZIONIST TIME 5 September 1999, Jerusalem: .. Israel insisted on a premature switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time to accommodate a week of pre-sunrise prayers. Palestinians refused to live on "Zionist Time." Two weeks of scheduling havoc ensued. Nobody knew the "correct" time. At precisely 5:30pm on Sunday, two coordinated car bombs exploded in different cities, killing three terrorists who were transporting the bombs. .. The bombs had been prepared in a Palestine-controlled area, and set to detonate on Daylight Saving Time. But the confused drivers had already switched to Standard Time. When they picked up the bombs, they neglected to ask whose watch was used to set the timing mechanism. As a result, the cars were still en-route when the explosives detonated. ..
BREATHARIANISM 22 September 1999, Scotland: a Scottish follower of Breatharianism ..'s diary reveals that she was attempting to adhere to the 21-day spiritual cleansing course wherein followers [of] Jasmuheen (an Australian .. selft-stled guru .. formerly known as Ellen Greve) .. eschew all food and drink for seven days and then take only sips of water for a further fourteen days. They endeavor to learn "pranic feeding" on the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen found in the air. .. Nutritionists say the human body can survive without fluid for no more than six days. But such research did not deter this woman, who took to the wilds with only a tent and her determination. A police source revealed that she had died from hypothermia and dehydration, aggravated by lack of food. Jasmuheen .. claims to have survived on "liquid air" since 1993, although she also allows herself cups of herbal tea and chocolate biscuits. In response to questioning, the founder of the cult stated that the woman's death was not due to any physical need for food. Rather, she said, it was a failure to satisfy spiritual needs brought about by a battle with her own ego. ..
CRAPPY DRIVING AWARD 9 October 1999, Maine: .. 23-year-old Benjamin lost his life in one of the most unappetizing manners possible when he careened into a 400,000-gallon tank of raw sewage on Friday night. Police speculated that he was driving his 1998 Mazda pickup much too fast to make the sharp right turn in front of the wastewater treatment plant. ..
SHELL SHOT 20 October 1999, Texas: .. three men found the 75-millimeter "ceremonial military rounds" while cleaning out a building. Someone came up with the bright idea to trigger the explosives with gunfire fire, and you know what? It worked. One man died at the scene. ..
FATAL FOOTWEAR FASHION 2 November 1999, Tokyo: platform shoes, a must-have fashion accessory for young Japanese women, have already claimed two lives. .. The first victim, a 25-year-old nursery-school teacher, died in her car after suffering a skull fracture from a fall from her 13-cm platform sandals. .. The second victim was a passenger killed in a car crash ..: the driver, a 25-year-old office worker, was unable to hit the brake because her 8-cm heels got in the way. .. (The soles of some shoes [reach] as high as 30 cm.)
PEEPER PLUMMETS 9 Nov 1999, Mexico: [a] jail guard .. tripped over an air vent, crashed through the skylight, and fell 23 feet to land beside the bed where the inmate and his wife were, against all odds, enjoying an intimate moment. .. Prisoners .. reported that [he] was in the habit of prowling the prison roof during conjugal visits, in search of prisoners to supervise. Local law enforcement reported that the guard was clutching .. binoculars. ..
FLAMES OF PASSION 17 November 1999, Germany: .. after bitter divorce proceedings, 40-year-old Uwe of Brandenburg found that he had lost everything: .. the settlement demanded that Uwe turn over ownership of his house to his newly-estranged wife, Verena. .. Descending into the basement with his trusty drill, [he] proceeded to bore several holes into a rather large oil tank. He then set fire to the fuel [probably gasoline] as it poured in erratic streams onto the floor. To his delight, the entire basement was engulfed in flames within seconds. .. Despite a valiant effort to save himself, Uwe died in the flames of his own vengeance. Verena got the last laugh, which acquaintances described as "maniacal." ..
WALKING ON WATER 24 November 1999, California: one particular group of Christians .. worked to master the secret of walking on water, [until their leader] unexpectedly died while practicing in his bathtub. .. He apparently drowned after slipping on a bar of soap. ..
THAT SINKING FEELING Rickey, a 38-year-old experienced diver, .. had taken off his mask, fins, tanks, and bouyancy vest when an errant boarding ladder floated out of reach. He jumped in to retrieve it. With no fins to propel him and no vest to help him float, he sank so quickly his two friends could not reach him until it was too late. ..
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE 1999: .. a sailor playing with a multimeter .. was curious about the resistance level of the human body. He had a Simpson 260 multimeter, a small unit powered by a 9-volt battery. That may not seem powerful enough to be dangerous.. but it can be deadly in the wrong hands. The sailor took a probe in each hand to measure his bodily resistance from thumb to thumb. But the probes had sharp tips, and in his excitement he pressed his thumbs hard enough against the probes to break the skin. Once the salty conducting fluid known as blood was available, the current from the multimeter travelled right across the sailor's heart, disrupting the electrical regulation of his heartbeat. He died before he could record his Ohms.
.. How, you might ask, with only a 9V battery? .. 1mA of current through the human body can be felt, 10mA of current is sufficient to make muscles contract to the point where you cannot let go of a power source, and 100mA is sufficient to stop the heart. .. Our body's resistance [is] 500K Ohms. Using 9V and 500K Ohms .. we come up with a current of 18 microAmps, below the "feel" threshold of 1mA. However, removing the insulation of skin from our curious sailor here, the resistance through the very good conducting electrolytes of the body is sharply lower. Around 100 ohms, .. resulting in a current of 90mA - sufficient to stop our sailor's heart and kill him. .. This sailor apparently did this alone in the lab, and spent a few minutes in ventricular fibrillation. A defibrillator might have saved his life had someone been there to use it. ..
BURMESE PYTHON 1999, Nevada: a man was [handling] his 15ft Burmese Python .. when the snake mistook his hand for dinner, clamped its jaws around it, and began constricting around his arm. .. Once the snake begins to constrict, only a lever or a sharp knife can persuade the serpent to abandon its course of action. Knowing this, the owner had nevertheless failed to keep a tool handy. The snake began swallowing his hand, and constricting around his body in an attempt to quell the spasms of the thrashing prey. The man instructed his hysterical wife, who was too scared to approach the snake, to call 911. But the authorities arrived too late. The snake had already constricted around its owner's chest and squeezed him breathless. .. (Alcohol would have [also] done the trick. Snakes don't like their liquor, so spraying alcohol on the head of a snake will cause it to stop biting.) ..
COPPER CAPER 1999, England: Wayne wanted to make a few bucks by selling stolen scrap metal. He sneaked into a demolition site and [saw] a 3" thick copper pipe. .. When he attempted to sever the pipe, that he was shocked to discover that it was actually an aluminum cable carrying 11,000 volts of power. .. He did not survive to be charged with his offences.
SINK THE CUE BALL Scotland: a 23-year-old painter was known by his friends as 'Death Wish' because of his reckless behaviour, which included smashing glasses on his forehead and swallowing keys and glass. .. Frequently, he would "swallow" a pool ball and then regurgitate it. The man had successfully performed this trick on many occasions, by keeping the pool ball at the back of his pharynx, or throat. This was possible because of the unique size of a pool ball. One day, .. he was seen to place a cue ball in his mouth. .. He wasn't aware that .. a cue ball is smaller than a pool ball. .. A cue ball is 4.75 cm in diameter, while pool balls are 5.03 cm. This small difference in diameter makes little difference in appearance, [but] a smaller diameter causes an exponentially lesser volume. A cue ball is 10.52 ml smaller than a pool ball, [and is] perfectly suited for lodging in a pharynx. ..
GO SPEED RACER GO Illinois: .. Jim had an elderly mother whose driver's license was about to expire. She didn't want to lose her license, even though her response time was so slow that Jim knew she shouldn't be driving. He decided not to argue with his mother, but to simply take her to an Illinois Driver Testing Facility, where she would undoubtedly fail the road test. .. When their turn was called, he escorted his mother to the car and helped her inside. [Then] he walked directly behind the car, and stood about 10 feet away from a brick wall. Standing behind a car is something that one should avoid even when there is a known GOOD driver in the car. His mother started the engine, stepped on the gas, and accidentally put the car into gear. Reverse gear. The evaluator suffered a broken arm. Poor Jim .. expired a few days later from internal injuries sustained in the accident. The Darwin Award goes not only to Jim, but also to his mother, who avoided passing on her own poor genes by killing her son. ..
SHOCKING FALL 1 January 2000, Nevada: 26-year-old Tod, .. minutes before midnight, .. climbed to the top of a street light .. and waved to the enthusiastic revellers below. At midnight he slipped and, in an effort to break his fall, grabbed the wires that were supplying the electricity to the street light. .. It has not yet been determined whether he died from electrocution or from the 30-foot fall. .. Footnote: .. friends pondering his death said, "He thought he was invincible." "He used to climb the Golden Gate Bridge." "He would never do something stupid." ..
A FELL DEATH 22 February 2000, Pennsylvania: a man clearing timber from his lot .. slipped in the icy snow and fell directly in the path of the looming trunk, which landed on him with the expected result.
GUN SAFETY TRAINING 28 February 2000, Texas: .. Rashaad, nineteen, was visiting friends when he announced his intention to play .. Russian roulette. .. He apparently did not realize that a semiautomatic pistol, unlike a revolver, automatically inserts a cartridge into the firing chamber when the gun is cocked. His chance of winning a round of Russian roulette was zero, as he quickly discovered.
CAUGHT UP IN HIS WORK 1 March 2000, Maine: [when the wood-chipper (a machine that] will take birch or maple logs up to 24 inches in diameter and reduce them to 3/4" chips of wood) .. jammed, Michael climbed the conveyor belt feeding the chipper and used a rake to break up the bark jam in the chute, [regardless that] his efforts were directed against a machine that was still in operation. .. Police Chief Butch Asselin said that the remains would be subjected to DNA analysis for a positive ID, and added "I hope I never, ever see anything like this, ever again. I had a hard time sleeping last night."
STUDENT DIES IN TRASH BIN PRANK 1 March 2000, New Zealand: Baldwin Street in Dunedin is listed as the steepest in the world in The Guinness Book of World Records, and it was at the top of this 38-degree incline that .. two university students dragged a two-wheeled rubbish bin up, .. climbed in, shoved off, and down they went in their makeshift sleigh. .. Their 50-meter dash ended precipitously when the rubbish bin slammed into a legally parked trailer. Ana, 19, was killed instantly, and her co-pilot suffered serious head injuries, though one wonders how they noticed. ..
FORKLIFT SAFETY VIDEO 11 March 2000, Perth, Australia: it just stands to reason, one should follow safe practices while filming a safety video. But Peter, .. while filming a forklift safety demonstration, .. was thrown from the cabin of his forklift and crushed. Subsequent investigation revealed the culprits responsible for the fatality: driver error and high speed over varied terrain, coupled with an unused seat belt. His final safety demonstration was the most convincing of his career.
WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE 11 April 2000, Kentucky: Larry and his friend Silas decided to reenact the William Tell scene where the famous archer is forced to test his prowess by shooting an apple off his son's head. But instead of apples, they used a beer can, which was closer to hand. You might suspect that the pair were teenagers, but in fact they were grown men of 47. Larry put the beer can on his head and urged Silas to shoot. But Silas missed the can, fatally wounding his lifelong friend. ..
ROLLING ON THE RIVER 24 April 2000, Oregon: .. Steven and a friend were fishing in a 12-foot aluminum boat, held together with multiple duct tape repairs, including the motor mount. Suddenly they encountered rough water and .. the vessel, rated to hold 200 pounds, capsized and tossed the two men and their 640 pounds of equipment into the water. The US Coast Guard rescued the surviving companion on Tuesday morning, but Steven was not so lucky. ..
RUNNING OF THE BULLS 14 May 2000, France: a Berlin woman attempting to capture a memorable photo of the Running Bulls in the southern town of Nimes .. removed a metal safety barricade and stood in the middle of the street with her camera to her eye, searching for the best camera angle. She was .. trampled by .. six rampaging bulls before being rescued from the street. She was flow to a nearby hospital, where she died from her injuries. ..
HOME GROWN PARACHUTE 25 May 2000, Philippines: [a hijacker] robbed the passengers of about $25,000 .. and forced the flight attendants to open the door and depressurize the plane. He probably intended to jump, but the wind was so strong that he had trouble getting out of the plane. Finally one of the flight attendants helpfully pushed him out the door, just as he pulled the pin from the grenade. He threw the pin (oops!) into the cabin, and fell toward the earth carrying the business end of the grenade in his hand. The impact of Augusto hitting the earth at terminal velocity had little effect on the earth's orbit. All that remained aboveground were Augusto's two hands. ..
ELEVATOR WEDGIE 5 June 2000, Australia: a 23-year-old man who dropped his keys down a lift shaft .. asked his mates to hold the lift while he climbed out to retrieve it. He exited via the ceiling trapdoor, and was scrambling down the side of the lift when an adjacent car began to move. It wedged him so firmly against the lift wall that it took police rescuers 3 hours to extract the crushed man, and additional two minutes to retrieve his keys. ..
OSTRICH AXIOMS .. 10 June 2000, Colorado: a gentleman in Denver decided that since he couldn't find a human dance partner, he would make do with an ostrich. .. He went to an ostrich farm, climbed a ten-foot fence, and tried to catch one. .. However .. the big bird .. began to flap and peck away at the man. Our moron decides to run away from the bird. Wrong move. Ostriches have a herd mentality. When one runs, they all run, and their path was right on the tail of our clumsy hero. He decides to fall to the ground and play dead, forgetting that ostriches have really strong legs, and when multiple pairs of them are kicking the stuffing out of you, you really don't have much of a chance. The owner of the farm finally noticed the racket and called 911 to report the first ever Ostrich hoedown on a human dance floor. The man was rescued from a certain death, but remains in the hospital with pretty much everything broken. ..
SETTLE THE SCORE 4 July 2000, Alberta, Canada: .. "(as) he pulled a small-caliber handgun from his waistband... it discharged." .. Yet another man has shot himself in the groin, greatly reducing his chance of contributing to the gene pool. ..
FIREWORKS FIASCO 4 July 2000, New York: .. Keith, 34, suffered partial decapitation when he peered into the mouth of a launching tube containing what he thought was a malfunctioning aerial firework. ..
CHUTE BOY 14 July 2000, Canada: .. "Who wants to ride the in-house water slide?" The slide was actually a garbage chute. Sheldon volunteered, tumbled into the opening, and his subsequent headlong slide beat the standard elevator service down to the first floor, [but] an unforgiving trash compactor awaited his arrival. ..
HORNET CHALLENGE 27 July 2000, Phnom Penh: a [man] challenged his neighbor to stand beneath a hornets' nest, while two men pelted it with stones. .. The man endured the pain of countless stinging hornets before expiring from the toxic injections. ..
DO IT YOURSELF, DO YOURSELF IN 2000, Colorado: .. One day .. Charles .. had the great idea! He would build an electric fence in his own backyard. "An electric fence will keep the dogs in." .. and managed to encircle his backyard with a 120-V strand of wire. .. The household became accustomed to the fence, and things settled down to normal, until Charles picked up a passion for gardening. .. One day he reached for a tomato, put his hand on the electrified wire, and there's really no need to explain what happened next. .. (Electric fences do have high voltages on par with 50,000 volts. However, correctly manufactured electric fences have current limiting devices that keep the fence from killing creatures so unlucky as to touch them. .. It only takes one quarter of an ampere to kill a human being.) ..
HARDHEADS 29 September 2000, South Carolina: a 32-year-old man hitching a ride on a pallet truck died when the vehicle passed under a bridge at 55mph and the concrete overpass struck the man's head. The driver told police that he had warned the riders not to sit up there but they were "hardheaded." Apparently the deceased wasn't hardheaded enough! ..
SAND SURFING 25 November 2000, Australia: at the Spring Nationals country festival in Shepparton, a celebration truck drove noisily down Main Street at a sedate pace of 5mph, with frolicking people climbed all over it. [A man] decided to surf along behind the truck .. with a can of beer in one hand and a rope attached to the back of the truck in the other, he slid along the surface of the road on a piece of cardboard, having a wonderful time.. until the rope caught beneath the truck, and he was pulled under the wheels. ..
CHRISTMAS TREE 25 November 2000, Canada: a 66-year-old Quebec woman was hit not once, not twice, but three times by speeding cars on a Canadian highway while trying to save her Christmas trees. The woman had been driving on the highway with several conifers strapped none too securely to the roof of her vehicle, when they fell off into the traffic lanes. Although it was nighttime, and there were no lights on the road, the courageous woman risked -- and lost -- her life trying to rescue her trees from the speeding cars. ..
STAB IN THE DARK 3 December 2000, Australia: .. two men, aged 21 and 28, went to a caravan park intent on doing serious damage to the occupant of one trailer. In the ensuing confusion, the intended victim escaped without injury while his two attackers managed to viciously stab each other. The 21-year-old knife-wielder died at the scene, while the 28-year-old was hospitalized with severe injuries. ..
SHIELDS VS. SHIELDS 30 December 2000, Missouri: .. Mr. Shields had car-jacked a pickup with a manual transmission, but he didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. He tried to flee, but the grinding of gears indicated that he was having trouble putting the pickup into reverse. The officer pulled the incompetent criminal from the immobile car. Mr. Shields challenged the cop to a gun fight.. and was quickly dispatched by five rounds fired by the officer. A check of the perpetrator’s gun revealed it was fully loaded, except for the most important round.. the one in the chamber. The morals of the story are: If you are going to steal a car, know how to drive a stick shift; and if you are going to challenge a police officer to a duel, make sure to load your weapon.
FAST FOOD FATALITY .. Lisa, 22 year-old night manager of Burger King, conspired with the 34-year-old day manager to heist over $4000 from the restaurant. They staged an elaborate fake robbery/arson, in which Lisa acted the part of the victim bound with duct tape and trapped in the walk-in cooler, while her co-conspirator started a small fire and walked off with a duffel bag of cash. A key part of their plan was a quick "rescue" of Lisa by the local fire department. Unfortunately the wastebasket fire went unnoticed until .. firefighters were summoned. They found Lisa in the freezer, chilled and semi-conscious, and rushed her to a hospital where she died from hypothermia. .. Lisa’s body showed no signs of forced restraint, the duct tape was loose, and she could have easily freed herself from her bindings and escaped from the unlocked refrigerator.
LOBSTER VASECTOMY 2000, England: .. a 24-year-old supermarket shoplifter stuffed a pair of live lobsters in his pants and .. they fastened their powerful claws around his delicate parts. .. The thief will fully recover -- except for one small detail. "It was a do-it-yourself vasectomy." .. The supermarket manager declined to press charges, saying the culprit has already "gone through enough pain (to) learn his lesson." ..
.. 28 November 2000, Michigan: .. a Bay City man shot in the leg while trying to photograph his dog holding a rifle, which accidentally went off.
29 November 2000, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: .. three [executioners] in the last two years have accidentally hanged themselves while clowning around. The most recent mishap occurred when the executioner prepared for an upcoming sentence and slipped the noose around his neck. Apparently he wanted pictures taken of himself standing on the gallows when the trap door gave way, breaking his neck instantly. ..
14 January 2001, Sacramento: an off-duty Los Angeles police officer accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun, and was treated for a groin injury at a nearby hospital. ..
SWEET RELEASE 1 January 2001, Illinois: .. The two men had exchanged their duty weapons in their game on prior occasions, but this night was different. "I wonder if this is loaded?" With those portentous parting words, Collin stuck the gun in his mouth and played his final round of "Sweet Release." ..
SCOOTER SNUFF 25 January 2001, New Mexico: cross the street at night wearing dark clothing, and you court danger. Ride a push scooter down the center lane of a major road wearing dark clothes in the middle of the night, and you take your life into your hands. .. An unidentified 18-year-old died doing just that, when the driver of a pickup truck veered to avoid him and accidentally clipped him with the side mirror. ..
KILLING TIME 2001, Scotland: electric trains in Glasgow collect power from the overhead cable, and transmit any excess through the rails to a solid copper cable that routes it to a power redistribution box. Copper is a favorite target for thieves. One enterprising fellow with a good knowledge of the electrical system planned to cut the copper cable during the time between trains, when no electricity was travelling through it. His plan might have worked.. but for one small flaw. In the pocket of his charred overcoat, police found an out-of-date rail timetable. The train arrived ten minutes before he thought it would, sending hundreds of volts of electricity through the thief's hacksaw and into his body, and putting an untimely end to his career.
SNOWBALL'S CHANCE IN HELL March 2001, Delaware: two [men] were involved in a friendly snowball fight when one reached out to scoop some snow from a passing tractor-trailer rig. .. But scooping snow from a moving vehicle is not the safest of sports. [His] hand caught in the rig, and he was pulled from his booth and dragged to his death. ..
SLOW LEARNER 23 March 2001, Virginia: Brandon, 21, was driving to the courthouse to face charges of reckless driving, speeding, driving without a license, and failure to wear seat belts, when he lost control of his speeding vehicle .. and collided with a truck pulling a flatbed trailer carrying three cars. As luck would have it, Brandon had again chosen not to wear his seatbelt. He was ejected from the car, and died at the scene.
March 2001: Justin's tale is more complicated, but his fate is equally apt. A failure to wear his seatbelt led him to 18 days in a coma, after he crashed his car at 90 miles per hour and was ejected from a window. .. One year later, Justin was riding with a friend, again sans seatbelt, when the speeding vehicle careened off the pavement. Once again he was involuntarily ejected from the window, only this time he was killed on impact. ..
ETHANOL SCHMETHANOL [An] Oxford University professor had been in the habit of drinking laboratory ethanol until he unwittingly poured his last drink from a bottle of methanol. According to Usenet scientists, methanol is a common lab solvent that looks and smells like ethanol but is "five times as toxic and five times less intoxicating." Those who drink it invariably drink too much. "By the time methanol symptoms are recognized, treatment, including kidney dialysis, may be too late." The 44-year-old professor of Ecology was said to have had poor vision, and probably misread the label.
INTERSECTING DARWINS 15 April 2001, Tennessee: [a man] trying to beat a train drove around the crossing gates -- only to be struck by an oncoming vehicle whose driver had the same mad plan. .. The accident happened to one side of the tracks, so the train passed by unimpeded. ..
GRENADE JUGGLER May 2001, Croatia: a college student dropped the ball when a hand grenade exploded while he juggled it at a party in Vidovci. Six students watching him were also injured. A spectator is usually disqualified from winning a Darwin Award caused by another's idiocy, but this audience should have known better than to gape at a man juggling explosives. The six onlookers earn Honorable Mentions for their disregard of common sense, and the juggler wins a Darwin for his lethal stupidity.
FIRE ANTS 14 May 2001, New York: a woman was found burned to death, her body still on fire on a grassy area adjacent to her home in Rome. A lighter and a melted gas can were discovered nearby. After months of investigation, police turned up no evidence of foul play, and believe her demise was due to her habit of dousing anthills with gasoline while she smoked cigarettes.
CABLE CUT 30 May 2001, Hillsboro, Oregon: Ismael drove his truck into a mailbox. It bounced off and collided with an electric power pole, flipping the Toyota onto its side and knocking down the power lines, .. then pulled out a pair of pruning shears .. and clipped the cable lying across his truck -- and was electrocuted when the shears severed the 7500-volt cable, which poked his rib cage, allowing the current to travel across his heart and out his left foot. ..
BLOWN AWAY 16 July, 2001, United States: an assistant plant manager .. died when he used an acetylene torch to cut a hole in a 10,000 gallon tank of asphalt emulsion. He was attempting to visually survey the amount of emulsion that remained in the tank, [no matter if] a warning sign on the side of the structure .. stated the contents were combustible. ..
THINK BEFORE YOU LEAP 21 July 2001, Idaho: when his brakes failed while driving down a steep mountain road, Marco bailed out on his eight passengers and leapt from his Dodge van. Too bad Marco didn't alert the others to the problem before he took flight so precipitously. Another passenger was able to bring the vehicle to a stop a short distance away. Marco struck his head on the pavement and died at the scene. No one else was injured.
SPEED BUMP 8 Aug 2001, Texas: .. a violent drunk .. was subdued [and] ejected .. from the bar. The Sheriff was summoned. When squad cars approached the scene, they encountered an extra speed bump.. The fleeing miscreant was passed out in the center turn lane of the highway adjacent to the bar. ..
COP CAP 8 August 2001, Missouri: when the Pierce City Chief of Police reached into his trunk and pulled out his shotgun, he should have remembered to point the gun aside. But even the best-trained men make mistakes. His "quick draw" precipitated a fatal self-shooting when the trigger caught on a loop of fabric, and he accidentally peppered himself with bullets. ..
STUDENT COMPACTOR 11 October 2001, Tennessee: eight freshman college students were hanging around a vacant library late one night, when they decided it would be a thrill to leap into a small opening they thought was a laundry chute. Perhaps a few more years of college would have helped them realize that libraries don’t often have laundry chutes. It was actually a garbage chute feeding directly into an automatic trash compactor. 19-year-old Wesley was the first to jump, and he enjoyed an exhilarating three-story slide before being crushed to death in the rubbish bin below. The other students decided not to follow.
CRYSTAL DAZE Chihuahua, Mexico is home to two hot caverns containing the largest natural crystals known to man. .. A man recently tried to steal one of the magnificent crystals from the roof, and might have succeeded... if he hadn't stood directly beneath it while chopping it free. He was pinned beneath the sparkling stalactite as it heeded the call of gravity, and roasted in the 108 F cave. Mika Twoleaf says, "The gentleman in question was not crushed to death by the crystal; rather, he was to the ground and could not budge the crystal to extricate himself. The temperature in the cave exceeds 108 degrees F and he was actually cooked in place in this natural oven. .. He would be the type to sit on a branch before cutting it off next to the tree."
FIRECRACKER CHAINSAW MASSACRE January 2002, Croatia: a Croatian was killed while trying to open a hand grenade with a chainsaw. He wanted to retrieve the explosive to make firecrackers for the New Year’s holiday.
FOOLISH COURAGE 1 January 2002, Brazil: Russian Roulette has always been a breeding ground for natural selection. .. On New Year’s Eve, Antonio and his friend .. began playing Russian roulette with holiday fireworks. Their version of the game consisted of lighting fireworks, and holding them in their mouths to see who could delay longest. The man who discarded the explosive closest to the point of detonation was the victor in this battle of wills. .. Antonio was the winner, holding one of the fireworks in his mouth a bit too long, and thereby earning praise for his "courage" at his funeral.
JET TAXI 30 January 2002, Brazil: .. apparently a Boeing 737 preparing for takeoff was .. invisible to one 64-year-old taxi driver, who sped onto the runway after dropping off his fare. He was right behind the jet when it revved its engines in preparation for a 140-mph takeoff. .. The force of the 737’s jets is comparable to a hurricane, but .. much hotter. The taxi was spun 25 meters through the air, hit the rocks at Guanabara Bay, and ejected its driver. The man’s tip for the trip was a broken skull and thorax. [He] died four days later. ..
FATAL CUE 15 February 2002, Moscow, Russia: a 26-year-old man tried to enter a bar .. carrying a concealed gun. He was stopped by an alert security guard, whereupon the man menaced the guard with the weapon. The guard kicked it out of his hands, and the gun fell onto a billiards table. The security guard asked the players to pass the gun over to him. One of them [picked] it up with his pool cue. The gun slid down the cue stick, and its increasing thickness was sufficient to push the trigger and shoot the 19-year-old in the chest. He died immediately. ..
RETURN TO TREES FAILS 18 February 2002, Hawaii: .. Joshua .. climbed a Koa tree under cover of darkness, intent upon stealing a branch of the expensive native hardwood. [But he cut] a branch directly above his head. The severed branch struck and killed him, and authorities found him still in the tree, twenty feet off the ground. ..
FAULTY AIM FATAL 7 March 2002, Colorado: when Gerald was pulled over by police for erratic driving, he decided it was better to flee from the stolen car on foot. .. During the subsequent foot chase, Gerald attempted to dissuade officers from the pursuit by firing a 9mm Ruger semiautomatic handgun blindly over his shoulder, [but] he couldn’t flee and fire at the same time. While discharging the weapon over his shoulder, Gerald managed to shoot himself in the head with his own gun, bringing the chase to a sudden conclusion.
WELL-TRAINED 21 March 2002, Kentucky: .. the man had [already been] hopping trains and riding them fifteen or twenty yards down the rails before leaping back off, [until the day he] tried to hop a southbound train [failing] to notice the simultaneous approach of a northbound train: [he] was struck and killed. ..
SLICK SHIT SLIP 17 April 2002, Arizona: [a] jail inmate defecated on his cell floor, slipped in his own feces, struck his head on the ground, and died. ..
FIR KILLS TREE SURGEON 15 June 2002, England: a tree surgeon was lopping branches from a fir tree and throwing them on to a small fire below, when one of the branches became propped against the tree. The tree burst into flames, and the man was found dead on the ground. ..
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