The Darwin Awards are awarded to those who died in a really stupid manner, proving Darwin's theory of natural selection. (Not to mention doing a big favor to the gene pool to further humankind's possibility of further evolution.)
DUMB DRUNK -- Honorable Mention, Confirmed True
February 2001 Connecticut
A woman arrested for on a drunken driving charge made an odd choice when calling a for a ride home. Sandra called on Mike, her drinking companion prior to her arrest, who was visibly drunk when he staggered into police headquarters.
Mike failed a sobriety test. More surprisingly, a routine background check revealed that Sandra had previously obtained a restraining order against him. Sgt. Alan Fournier said, "We can't allow him to come into contact with her, even if she says it's okay." Mike was charged with violating a restraining order and driving while intoxicated.
One question remains -- was Sandra or Mike more foolish?
HANGING AROUND JAIL -- Confirmed True
2 April 1998
Joseph, a twenty-year-old inmate of the Stevens Point Jail, planned a circuitous route to freedom. He would pretend to be crazy in order to be transferred to the minimum- security mental health facility, from which it would be easier to engineer an escape.
What would a crazy person do if he were trapped in jail? Joseph pondered the question, then decided to hang himself with a bed sheet until he was unconscious, while his bunkmate alerted officials, who would cut him down and hopefully send him to the nuthouse.
Joseph's escape plan worked more quickly than he had anticipated. He hanged himself and was taken to the freedom of a grave the very next day.
Confirmed Honorable Mention
23 January 2001, Pennsylvania
Every home needs a handyman for those essential home remodeling tasks. But not every homeowner knows how to get the job done, so professionals are sometimes called in to help. Enter William, 25, whose employer sent him to the home of a Bethlehem man to help renovate the basement.
William was using a portable miter saw that requires quite a bit of concentration. When our hero's attention slipped, so did the saw, which sliced off his hand at the wrist. As if losing a limb weren't bad enough, the injured man proceeded to shoot himself in the head a dozen times with a pneumatic nail gun in an attempt to end his misery.
The homeowner ventured downstairs to check on the remodeling, but found the basement empty. He was about to leave when his dog discovered William cowering in the corner, nails protruding from his scalp.
The owner of the company arrived at the scene, located the missing limb, wrapped it in a clean plastic sandwich bag, and sent it with William to the hospital. At least a dozen 1-1/2 inch nails were removed from William's head at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, and the severed hand was reattached.
Historic Darwin Award
5 November 1605, England
In the early hours of a wintry London night, authorities discovered Guy Fawkes sitting by a pile of gunpowder in the cellar of the Houses of Parliament. King James I was scheduled to attend Parliament when it convened later that day, and he was not pleased by this demonstration of disrespect by his subjects. A manhunt was started for Fawkes' fellow conspirators, 14 people in all led by Brian Caton.
A few days later the plotters were brought to earth in a house in Buxton and a gunfight ensued. Unfortunately there was a driving rain and the gunpowder of the cornered men was too wet to fire properly. So they spread the gunpowder on the floor in front of the fire to dry. Guess what happened when a burning ember spat out from the fire and landed on the drying powder?
Needless to say, the survivors of the explosion and the incoming gunfire were captured, and hanged and beheaded for treason.
As an interesting sidelight, gunpowder those days had a limited use-by date. The pile that had been accumulated and secreted in the cellar had probably deteriorated too much to ignite even if Fawkes had managed to remain undetected until King James' appearance. We can only assume he had prepared a long enough fuse to ensure his safe withdrawal. Otherwise he would have joined the ranks of the suicide bombers, who win the very first Darwin Award -- before Charles Darwin was even born!
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. Ride that scooter in the dark carrying a bottle of Tequila Rose liqueur, and you're a Darwin Award waiting to happen.
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 at 9pm. The unhelmeted scooter rider hit the pavement and died at the scene from severe head injuries.
In an earnest display of common sense, Sgt. Brian McCutcheon warned that piloting a scooter down a street after dark is "a very bad idea" and "extremely unsafe."
This one is not yet confirmed, but would certainly qualify:
Milagros Esteves was a fine girl, but not too bright. One day she got asked a date by one guy she really liked, so on the day of the date she wanted to look pretty. The day came but she never showed up and as days went by her boy decided to pay her a visit in order to know what happened. Telephone calls didn't work so he went to her home and after waiting for an answer he decided to take a look inside from the back part of the house which had a window to the kitchen only to find out his date laying on the kitchen's floor.
When police arrived they could reconstruct the girl's last moments. As time for the meeting came closer Milagros noticed her hair was still too wet to be combed so an idea struck her mind. She would go to the kitchen, get a knife, head for the microwave oven, open its door, falsely lock the door in order to keep it open and dry her hair by placing her head inside the oven.
Doctors diagnosed death by boiled brain.
5 September 1999, JERUSALEM:
In most parts of the world, the switch away from Daylight Savings Time proceeds smoothly. But the time change raised havoc with Palestinian terrorists this year.
Israel insisted on making a premature switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time to accommodate a week of pre-sunrise prayers. Palestinians unequivocally refused to "live on Zionist Time." Two weeks of scheduling havoc ensued. Nobody knew the "correct" time.
At precisely 5:30 Israel time on Sunday, two coordinated car bombs exploded in different cities, killing three terrorists who were transporting the bombs. It was initially believed that the devices had been detonated prematurely by klutzy amateurs. A closer look revealed the truth behind the untimely explosions.
The bombs had been prepared in a Palestine-controlled area, and set on Daylight Savings time. The confused drivers had already switched to standard time. When they picked up the bombs, they neglected to enquire whose watch was used to set the timing mechanism. As a result, the cars were still en-route when the explosives detonated, delivering to the terrorists their well-deserved demise.
PADERBORN, GERMANY :
Overzealous zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his constipated elephant, Stefan, 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let fly - and suffocated the keeper under 200 pounds of poop! Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive-oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded on him like a dump truck full of mud.
"The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to the ground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him," said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective Erik Dern. "With no one there to help him, he lay there for at least an hour before a watchman came along, and during that time he suffocated. It seemed to be just one of those freak accidents."
A man died on a beach when an 8-foot-deep hole he had dug into the sand caved in as he sat inside it. Beachgoers said Daniel Jones, 21, dug the hole for fun, or protection from the wind, and had been sitting in a beach chair at the bottom Thursday afternoon when it collapsed, burying him beneath 5 feet of sand. People on the beach on the Outer Banks used their hands and shovels, trying to claw their way to Jones, a resident of Woodbridge, Va., but could not reach him. It took rescue workers using heavy equipment almost an hour to free him while about 200 people looked on. Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.
In February, Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed in Lompoc, Calif., as he fell face-first through the ceiling of a bicycle shop he was burglarizing. Death was caused when the large flashlight he had placed in his mouth (to keep his hands free) crammed against the base of his skull as he hit the floor.
According to police in Dahlonega, Ga., ROTC cadet Nick Berrena, 20, was stabbed to death in January by fellow cadet Jeffrey Hoffman, 23, who was trying to prove that a knife could not penetrate the flak vest Berrena was wearing.
(Wonder if there was any sort of moneyback guarantee on that vest?)
Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed in February in Selbyville, Del., as he won a bet with friends who said he would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the trigger. (Quoted from the individual who sent this: "Four bullets in a typically five-shot revolver, eh? I did hear of someone doing this stunt once with a cocked semiauto pistol, which all of us gun-crazed guys here in the Righteous South know is always going to fire the first bullet in the gun, regardless of how many are in the magazine").
In February, according to police in Windsor, Ont., Daniel Kolta, 27, and Randy Taylor, 33, died in a head-on collision, thus earning a tie in the game of chicken they were playing with their snowmobiles.
In October, a 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who "totally zoned when he ran," according to his wife, accidentally jogged off a 200-foot-high cliff on his daily run.
In September in Detroit, a 41-year-old man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after squeezing headfirst through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.
In September, a 7-year-old boy fell off a 100-foot-high bluff near Ozark, Ark., after he lost his grip swingin on a cross that marked the spot where another person had fallen to his death in 1990.
A San Anselmo man died yesterday when he hit a lift tower at the Mammoth Mountain ski area while riding down the slope on a foam pad, authorities said.
Matthew David Hubal, 22, was pronounced dead at Centinela Mammoth Hospital. The accident occurred about 3 a.m., the Mono County Sheriff's Department said. Hubal and his friends apparently had hiked up a ski run called Stump Alley and undid some yellow foam protectors from the lift towers, said Lieutenant Mike Donnelly of the Mammoth Lakes Police Department.
The pads are used to protect skiers who might hit the towers. The group apparently used the pads to slide down the ski slope and Hubal crashed into a tower. It has since been investigated that the tower he hit was the one with its pad removed. [AP, Mammoth Lakes]
Robert Puelo, 32, was apparently being disorderly in a St. Louis market. When the clerk threatened to call police, Puelo grabbed a hot dog, shoved it in his mouth, and walked out without paying for it. Police found him unconscious in front of the store: paramedics removed the six-inch wiener from his throat, where it had choked him to death. [AP, St. Louis]
Poacher Marino Malerba shot a stag standing above him on an overhanging rock -- and was killed instantly when it fell on him.
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. The cotton was taped at the wrists and ankles, and white gloves and running shoes completed his fashionable ensemble.
As the mummy was waiting in the kitchen for his girlfriend to dress for pictures of their costumes, he carelessly lit a cigarette... and burst into flames, as the flammable costume ignited. His girlfriend rushed into the kitchen and dragged him into the yard before calling the fire department. An appalled group of trick-or-treaters learned the reason for flame-retardant costumes right there on the lawn of his grilfriend's Orillia home.
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," apparently aware of his own role in the creation of this spectacular Darwin Award. He was pronounced dead at Soldier's Memorial Hospital early the next morning.
A man used a shotgun like a club to break a former girlfriend's windshield. It discharged, blowing a hole in his gut. -Tony Morgan [San Jose Mercury News]
Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, N. C., when, awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear. -Tony Morgan [Hickory Daily Record, 12-21-92]
A salesman, 24, from Hialeah, Fla., was killed near Lantana, Fla., in March when his car smashed into a pole in the median strip of I-95 in the middle of the afternoon. Police said that the man was traveling at 80 MPH and, judging by the sales manual that was found open and clutched to his chest, had been busy reading.-Tony Morgan [News of the Weird, 18 May 93, San Jose Mercury News]
A terrible diet and room with no ventilation are being blamed for the death of a man who was killed by his own gas.
There was no mark on his body but autopsy showed large amounts of methane gas in his system. His diet had consisted primarily of beans and cabbage (and a couple other things). It was just the right combination of foods. It appears that the man died in his sleep from breathing from the poisonous cloud that was hanging over his bed. Had he been outside or had his windows opened it wouldn't have been fatal but the man was shut up in his near airtight bedroom. He was ``...a big man with a huge capacity for creating [this deadly gas].''
Three of the rescue workers got sick and one was hospitalized. -Tony Morgan [Unknown, 25 March 1993]
A man cleaning a bird feeder on his balcony of his condominium apartment in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his death, police said Monday. -Tony Morgan [Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario]
25 April 1998, Massachusetts:
One fateful day in April, a private pilot landed his Piper PA-32-300 at the New Bedford airport. To secure his aircraft against thieves, he inserted a gust lock into the co-pilot's control column, and padlocked it in place. This procedure is fairly common, except that the gust lock is usually placed on the pilot's control column. That way it's hard to forget it when you prepare to depart. Many gust locks have a big red plate that hangs down to cover the ignition and master switch. We will never know why our soon to be dead friend chose to put the gust lock on the co-pilot's side.
The pilot went off to have some drinks and returned to his plane at 10:30 PM. He hopped into the aircraft with 155 mg/dL of ethanol in his blood, and departed without remembering to check that the flight controls were unobstructed. A witness to the accident reported that he departed the runway at a very steep angle. consistent with having a gust lock installed.
About this time, our erstwhile friend realized that he forgot to remove the gust lock, and that his plane will soon stall. The real problem is that the key for the padlock is on the same keyring as the key for the ignition. So he had two choices: try to remove the padlock key from the keyring while keeping the plane running, which will take more time than he has, or turn off the engine, which will accelerate the stall, then rush to remove the gust lock and restart the engine.
He chose option B.
The airplane "went straight up in the air like an acrobat" then appeared to level off, turn northwest, then northeast, followed by "a nose dive" and a rapid descent to the ground.
When the National Transportation Safety Board investigator arrived at the scene he discovered the padlock and gust lock still installed and the keyring with both keys still on it on the floor of the cockpit.
Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheeled chair Sunday when the accident occurred, said Inspector D'Arcy Honer of the Peel regional police.
"It appears the chair moved and he went over the balcony," Honer said. "It's one of those freak accidents. No foul play is suspected." -Tony Morgan
Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death. -Tony Morgan [UPI, Toronto]
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.
29-year-old Daniel Wyman and his unidentified friend were relaxing on the lake on Sunday in a 14-foot aluminum boat, when they decided to toss the M-250 explosive into the water. They intended to kill fish with the blast, not themselves, said Jim Wipper, chief deputy coroner. A sudden gust of wind pushed their boat over the firecracker, and the boat sank about 100 yards from shore.
The friend swam safely to land.
A police spokesman said Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower early Friday evening as he was explaining the strength of the building's windows to visiting law students. Hoy previously had conducted demonstrations of window strength according to police reports. Peter Lauwers, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was ``one of the best and brightest'' members of the 200-man association. -Tony Morgan
Six people drowned Monday while trying to rescue a chicken that had fallen into a well in southern Egypt. An 18-year-old farmer was the first to descend into the 60-foot well. He drowned, apparently after an undercurrent in the water pulled him down, police said. His sister and two brothers, none of whom could swim well, went in one by one to help him, but also drowned. Two elderly farmers then came to help, but they apparently were pulled down by the same undercurrent. The bodies of the six were later pulled out of the well in the village of Nazlat Imara, 240 miles south of Cairo.
The chicken was also pulled out. It survived. -Tony Morgan [AP, Cairo, Egypt, 31 Aug 1995]
A thief who sneaked into a hospital was scarred for life when he tried to get a suntan. After evading security staff at Odstock Hospital in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and helping himself to doctors' paging devices, the thief spotted a vertical sunbed. He walked into the unit and removed his clothes for a 45-minute tan. However, the high-voltage UV machine at the hospital, which is renowned for its treatment of burns victims, has a maximum dosage of ten seconds.
After lying on the bed for almost 300 times the recommended maximum time the man was covered in blisters. Hours later, when the pain of the burns became unbearable, he went to Southampton General Hospital, 20 miles away,in Hampshire. Staff became suspicious because he was wearing a doctor's coat. After tending his wounds they called the police.
Southampton police said: "This man broke into Odstock and decided he fancied a quick suntan. Doctors say he is going to be scarred for life." -Tony Morgan [Times of London]
(4 July 1991)
Three Eaton men died on the evening of July 4th. James, Billy and Ashley were killed early Friday morning after their blue Ford pickup rolled over on country Road 24. Hogs and alcohol were contributing factors to the accident.
"We found several beer cans in and around the scene," said Sheriff Andrew Watson. The driver had a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit.
The events unfolded like this:
The three men spent the national holiday drinking. Later that evening they were struck with sudden cravings for porkchops. "They were popping off fireworks when Jimmy said they ought to go get some eats," reported Billy's girlfriend Emma.
At 11:00PM they drove ten miles to a pig farm, intent on stealing a hog. One of the men scaled the fence and tied the end of a rope to a plump quadriped. The other two men started pulling on the 400-lb beast. The stress of a struggling hog was too much for the 6 foot chain link fence, and a fourteen foot section collapsed loudly, startling the other hogs into a stampede.
"I was asleep when I herd this godawful noise, " explained John Wilson, owner of the farm. "I run out of the house with my shotgun and shot off both barrels in the air, and yelled at them to get on out."
The friends loaded up their stolen pig in a flash, tied the rope to the truck, and sped down the county road in excess of 90 miles per hour. Unfortunately they forgot to buckle their seat belts, but the pig was strapped in.
Three miles down the road, the hog began making a commotion in the back of the pickup truck, causing the vehicle to swerve wildly. That threw the pig from the back of the truck, and it was dragged along the dirt road for about half a mile.
Distracted, the driver hit a soft shoulder, and the truck rolled 40 feet, ejecting all three men from the vehicle and killing them.
The victims were discovered at 5:00AM by a passing motorist. Police caution motorists to drive sensibly on dirt roads, wear seatbelts, and refrain from drinking while driving.
The pig lived.
The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded into the side of a cliff rising 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 is was and what had happened.
It seems that a guy had somehow gotten hold of a JATO unit (Jet Assisted Take Off - actually a solid fuelrocket) that is 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 facts, as best could be determined, are that the operator of the 1967 Impala hit JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3.0 miles from the crash site.
This was established by the prominent scorched and melted asphalt at that location. The JATO, if operating properly, would have reached maximum thrust within five seconds causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 MPH, continuing at full power for an additional 20-25 seconds. The driver, soon to be pilot, most likely would have experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog-fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners, basically causing him to become significant 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, then becoming airborne for additional 1.4 miles and impacting 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 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. -Tony Morgan
James Burns, 34, of Alamo, Mich., was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police described as a "farm-type truck." Burns 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." -Tony Morgan [Kalamazoo Gazette, 4-1-95]
Same thing up here in MI. 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. -Tony Morgan
In France, Jacques LeFevrier left nothing to chance when he decided to commit suicide. He stood atop a sheer cliff and tied a noose around his neck. He tied the other end of the rope to a large rock. He drank some poison and set fire to his clothes. He even tried to shoot himself at the last moment. He jumped and fired the pistol.
The bullet missed him completely and cut through the rope above him. Now freed from the threat of hanging, he plunged into the sea. The dunking extinguished the flames and made him vomit the poison. He was dragged out of the water by a kind fisherman and was taken to a hospital... where he died of hypothermia.
15 July 1999, BANGKOK, THAILAND:
A circus dwarf met a disastrous demise, when he was swallowed by a hippopotamus in a freak accident in northern Thailand. Od the Dwarf had just astounded the audience with a trapeze performance, when he dismounted onto a trampoline at a bad angle. He was launched sideways into the mouth of a yawning hippopotamus waiting to appear in the next act. Hilda the Hippo gagged and instinctively swallowed the small man while spectators continued to applaud, not realizing their tragic mistake.
Horrified circus members rushed to save the dwarf, but were unable to extract him from the traumatized beast. Veterinariansdefended Hilda by pointing out that she was a vegetarian, and had never before digested a circus performer.
The trampoline is being subjected to forensic analysis.
The circus is now hiring. -World News Online
And here, we find those who didn't die (but the collective conscious wishes they had):
The recent craze for hydrogen beer is at the heart of a three-way lawsuit between unemployed stockbroker Toshira Otoma, the Tike-Take karaoke bar, and the Asaka Beer Corporation. Mr. Otoma is suing the bar and the brewery for selling toxic substances, and is claiming damages for grievous bodily harm leading to the loss of his job. The bar is counter-suing for defamation and loss of customers.
The Asaka Beer corporation brews "Suiso" brand beer, in which the carbon dioxide normally used to add fizz has been replaced by the more environmentally friendly hydrogen gas. Two side effects of the hydrogen gas have made the beer extremely popular at karaoke sing-along bars and discotheques.
First, because hydrogen molecules are lighter than air, sound waves are transmitted more rapidly, so individuals whose lungs are filled with the nontoxic gas can speak with an uncharacteristically high voice. Exploiting this quirk of physics, chic urbanites can now sing soprano parts on karaoke sing-along machines after consuming a big gulp of Suiso beer.
Second, the flammable nature of hydrogen has also become a selling point, though it should be noted that Asaka has not acknowledged that this was a deliberate marketing ploy.
The beer has inspired a new fashion of blowing flames from one's mouth using a cigarette as an ignition source. Many new karaoke videos feature singers shooting blue flames in slow motion, while flame contests take place in pubs everywhere.
"Mr. Otoma has no one to blame but himself. If he had not become drunk and disorderly, none of this would have happened. Our security guards undergo the most careful screening and training before they are allowed to deal with customers," said Mr. Takashi Nomura, Manager of the Tike-Take bar.
"Mr. Otoma drank fifteen bottles of hydrogen beer in order to maximize the size of the flames he could belch during the contest. He catapulted balls of fire across the room that Godzilla would be proud of, but this was not enough to win him first prize since the judgment is made on the quality of the flames and the singing, and after fifteen bottles of lager he was badly out of tune."
"He took exception to the result and hurled blue fireballs at the judge, singeing the front of a female judge's hair and entirely removing her eyebrows and lashes, and ruining the clothes of two nearby customers. None of these people have returned to my bar. When our security staff approached Mr. Otoma, he turned his attentions to them, making it almost impossible to approach him. Our head bouncer had no choice but to hurl himself at Mr. Otoma's knees, knocking his legs from under him."
"The laws of physics are not to be disobeyed, and the force that propelled Mr. Otoma's legs backwards also pivoted around his center of gravity and moved his upper body forward with equal velocity. It was his own fault that he had his mouth open for the next belch, his own fault that he held a lighted cigarette in front of it, and his own fault that he swallowed that cigarette."
"The Tike-Take bar takes no responsibility for the subsequent internal combustion, rupture of his stomach lining, nor the third degree burns to his esophagus, larynx and sinuses as the exploding gases forced their way out of his body. Mr. Otoma's consequential muteness and loss of employment are his own fault."
Mr. Otoma was unavailable for comment . -Nikki Tokoyo
A Vermont native 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. Ronald went to extremes to demonstrate the power of Crazy Glue, one of America's many marvels, to the Russians.
To prove the effectiveness of Crazy Glue, he rubbed several ounces of the adhesive onto the palms of his hands and jokingly placed them on the buttocks of a passing rhino.
The rhinoceros, a resident of the zoo for the 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 being involuntarily stuck to Ronald, it began to panic and charge wildly about the petting area with Ronald as an unwitting passenger.
"Sally the Rhino hadn't been feeling well. She was constipated, and had just been given a laxative when the American played his juvenile prank, " said caretaker James Douglass.
During Sally's tirade, a shed wall was gored, two fences destroyed, and a number of small animals escaped. Three pygmy goats and one duck were stomped to death. During the stampede and subsequent capture, Sally began to feel the effects of the laxative, showering Ronald repeatedly with over 30 gallons of rhinoceros diarrhea.
A team of medics and zoo caretakers were needed to remove his hands from Sally's buttocks. "It was tricky. We had to calm her down while shielding our faces from the pelting rhino dung. I guess you could say that Ronald was in it up to his neck.
Once she was under control, three people with shovels were working to keep an air passage open for him. We were eventually able to tranquilize Sally 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 awhile."
Meanwhile, the amused Russians 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.
Ronald did not die, nor was there any reproductive injury, so he can only qualify for a Darwin Award if you are persuaded by the fact that nobody would date a man who smelled of rhino dung.
Four people were admitted to a hospital after a string of bizarre accidents earlier this month. Sherry was admitted with a head wound. Tim was diagnosed with whiplash and chest contusions. Bryan suffered from torn gum tissue, and several of Pamela's fingers were bitten off.
These are the facts:
When Sherry dropped her husband off for his first day of work, she kissed him goodbye and flashed her breasts at him. "I'm still not sure why I did it," she said. "I didn't think anyone would see, and besides, it couldn't have been for more than two seconds." Unbeknownst to her, the cab driver did see her breasts, and he lost control of his taxi. It careened over a curb and into the corner of the Johnson Medical Building, where Pamela, a dental technician, was cleaning Bryan's gums. When the car came through the wall, Bryan bit down in shock, severing two fingers from Pamela's righthand.
Breast-flasher Sherry was injured by masonry falling from the Johnson Medical Building. In Los Angeles papers, this was titled, "Bears 2, Rams 4" -Don Downes
In Betulia, Colombia, an annual festival in November includes five days of amateur bullfighting. This year, no bull was killed, but dozens of matadors were injured, including one gored in the head and one Bobbittized.
Said one participant, "It's just one bull against [a town of] a thousand Morons."
In Guthrie, Okla., in October, Jason Heck tried to kill a millipede with a shot from his .22-caliber rifle, but the bullet ricocheted off a rock near the hole and hit pal Antonio Martinez in the head, fracturing his skull.
In Elyria, Ohio, in October, Martyn Eskins, attempting to clean out cobwebs in his basement, declined to use a broom in favor of a propane torch and caused a fire that burned the first and second floors of his house.
Paul Stiller, 47, was hospitalized in Andover Township, N. J., in September, and his wife Bonnie was also injured, by a quarter-stick of dynamite that blew up in their car. While driving around at 2 a.m., the bored couple lit the dynamite and tried to toss it out the window to see what would happen, but they apparently failed to notice that the window was closed.
It seems a man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the branch and wrote,
"This iz a stikkup. Put all your muny in this bag."
While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells Fargo.
After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he was not the brightest light in the harbor, told him that she could not accept his stick up note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America.
Looking somewhat defeated, the man said "Ok" and left. The Wells Fargo teller then called the police who arrested the man a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America.
When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find an ill man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage.
A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake.
The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying it was the best laugh he'd ever had.
A woman was reporting her car as stolen, and mentioned that there was a car phone in it. The policeman taking the report called the phone and told the guy that answered that he had read the ad in the newspaper and wanted to buy the car. They arranged to meet, and the thief was arrested.
45 year old Amy Brasher was arrested in San Antonio, Texas after a mechanic reported to police that 18 packages of marijuana were packed in the engine compartment of the car which she had brought to the mechanic for an oil change. According to police, Brasher later said that she didn't realize that the mechanic would have to raise the hood to change the oil.
David Posman, 33, was arrested recently in Providence, R.I., after allegedly knocking out an armored car driver and stealing the closest four bags of money. It turned out they contained $800 in PENNIES, weighed 30 pounds each, and slowed him to a stagger during his getaway so that police officers easily jumped him from behind.
Drug possession defendant Christopher Jansen, on trial in March in Pontiac, Michigan, said he had been searched without a warrant. The prosecutor said the officer didn't need a warrant because a "bulge" in Christopher's jacket could have been a gun.
Nonsense, said Christopher, who happened to be wearing the same jacket that day in court. He offered to hand it over so the judge could see it. While looking at it, the judge discovered a packet of cocaine in the pocket and laughed so hard he required a five-minute recess to compose himself.
R.C. Gaitlin, 21, walked up to two patrol officers who were showing their squad car computer equipment to children in a Detroit neighborhood. When he asked how the system worked, the officer's asked him for a piece of identification.
Gaitlin give them his driver's license, they entered it into the computer, and moments later they arrested Gaitlin for a two year old armed robbery in St. Louis, Missouri.
An Israeli woman's fight with a stubborn cockroach put her husband in the hospital with burns, a broken pelvis and broken ribs, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported yesterday. The woman, frightened by the insect when she found it in their living room, stepped on it, threw it in a toilet and sprayed a full can of insecticide on it when it refused to die.
Her husband came home from work, went to the toilet and lit a cigarette. When he threw the cigarette butt into the bowl, the insecticide fumes ignited, "seriously burning his sensitive parts," the Post wrote.
When paramedics were called to the home in Tel Aviv, they laughed so hard when they learned what had happened that they dropped the stretcher down the stairs, breaking the unidentified man's pelvis and ribs.
Bowling Green, Ohio, student Robert Ricketts, 19, had his head bloodied when he was struck by a Conrail train. He told police he was trying to see how close to the moving train he could place his head without getting hit. -Tony Morgan
In Wesley Chapel, Florida, Joseph Aaron, 20, was hit in the leg with pieces of the bullet he fired at the exhaust pipe of his car. When repairing the car, he needed to bore a hole in the pipe. When he couldn't find a drill, he tried to shoot a hole in it. -Tony Morgan
A man at a party popped a blasting cap into his mouth and bit down, triggering an explosion that blew off his lips, teeth and tongue, state police said Wednesday.
Jerry Stromyer, 24, of Kincaid, bit the blasting cap as a prank during a party late Tuesday night, said Cpl. M.D. Payne. "Another man had it in an aquarium, hooked to a battery, and was trying to explode it," Payne said. "It wouldn't go off and this guy said, "I'll show you how to set it off." "He put it in his mouth and bit down. It blew all his teeth off, his tongue and his lips," Payne said.
Stromyer was listed in guarded condition Wednesday with extensive facial injuries, according to a spokesman at Charleston Area Medical Division. "I just can't imagine anyone doing something like that," Payne said. -Tony Morgan [Associated Press, Kincaid, W. VA]
Doctors at Portland's University Hospital said Wednesday an Oregon man shot through the skull by a hunting arrow is lucky to be alive, and will be released soon from the hospital.
Tony Roberts, 25, lost his right eye last weekend during an initiation into a men's rafting club, Mountain Men Anonymous, in Grants Pass, Ore. A friend tried to shoot a beer can off his head, but the arrow entered Roberts' right eye.
Doctors said had the arrow gone 1 millimeter to the left, a major blood vessel would have cut and Roberts would have died instantly. Neurosurgeon Dr. Johnny Delashaw at the University Hospital in Portland said the arrow went through 8 to 10 inches of brain, with the tip protruding at the rear of his skill, yet somehow managed to miss all major blood vessels.
Delashaw also said had Robert tried to pull the arrow out on his own he surely would have killed himself.
Roberts admitted afterwards he and his friends had been drinking that afternoon. Said Roberts, "I feel so dumb about this."
No charges have been filed but the Josephine County district attorney's office said the initiation stunt is under investigation. -Tony Morgan [UPI, Portland, OR]
A woman named Linda went to Arkansas last week to visit her in-laws, and while there, went to a store. She parked next to a car with a woman sitting in it, her eyes closed and hands behind her head, apparently sleeping. When Linda came out a while later, she again saw the woman, her hands still behind her head but with her eyes open. The woman looked very strange, so Linda tapped on the window and said "Are you okay?"
The woman answered "I've been shot in the head, and I am holding my brains in."
Linda didn't know what to do; so she ran into the store where store officials called the paramedics. They had to break into the car because the door was locked. When they got in, they found that the woman had bread dough on the back of her head and in her hands. A Pillsbury biscuit canister had exploded, apparently from the heat in the car, making a loud explosion like that of a gunshot, and hit her in the head. When she reached back to find what it was, she felt the dough and thought it was her brains. She passed out from fright at first, then attempted to hold her brains in! -Tony Morgan [AP, Arkansas]
August, 1998, Montevideo, Uruguay
Paolo Esperanza, bass-trombonist with the Simphonica Mayor de Uruguay, in a misplaced moment of inspiration decided to make his own contribution to the cannon shots fired as part of the orchestra's performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture at an outdoor children's concert. In complete seriousness he placed a large, ignited firecracker, which was equivalent in strength to a quarter stick of dynamite, into his aluminum straight mute and then stuck the mute into the bell of his quite new Yamaha in-line double-valve bass trombone.
Later, from his hospital bed he explained to a reporter through bandages on his mouth, "I thought that the bell of my trombone would shield me from the explosion and instead, would focus the energy of the blast outward and away from me, propelling the mute high above the orchestra, like a rocket."
However, Paolo was not up on his propulsion physics nor qualified to use high-powered artillery and in his haste to get the horn up before the firecracker went off, he failed to raise the bell of the horn high enough so as to give the mute enough arc to clear the orchestra. What actually happened should serve as a lesson to us all during those delirious moments of divine inspiration:
First, because he failed to sufficiently elevate the bell of his horn, the blast propelled the mute between rows of players in the woodwind and viola sections of the orchestra, missing the players and straight into the stomach of the conductor, driving him off the podium and directly into the front row of the audience. Fortunately, the audience were sitting in folding chairs and thus they were protected from serious injury, for the chairs collapsed under them passing the energy of the impact of the flying conductor backwards into row of people sitting behind them, who in turn were driven back into the people in the row behind and so on, like a row of dominos. The sound of collapsing wooden chairs and grunts of people falling on their behinds increased logarithmically, adding to the overall sound of brass cannons and brass playing as constitutes the closing measures of the Overture.
Meanwhile, all of this unplanned choreography not withstanding, back on stage Paolo's Waterloo was still unfolding:
According to Paolo, "Just as the I heard the sound of the blast, time seemed to stand still. Everything moved in slow motion. Just before I felt searing pain to my mouth, I could swear I heard a voice with a Austrian accent say "Fur every akshon zer iz un eekvul und opposeet reakshon!" Well, this should come as no surprise, for Paolo had set himself up for a textbook demonstration of this fundamental law of physics. Having failed to plug the lead pipe of his trombone, he allowed the energy of the blast to send a super-heated jet of gas backwards through the mouth pipe of the trombone which exited the mouthpiece burning his lips and face.
The pyrotechnic ballet wasn't over yet. The force of the blast was so great it split the bell of his shiny Yamaha right down the middle, turning it inside out while at the same time propelling Paolo backwards off the riser. And for the grand finale, as Paolo fell backwards he lost his grip on the slide of the trombone allowing the pressure of the hot gases coursing through the horn to propel the trombone's slide like a double golden spear into the head of the 3rd clarinetist, knocking him unconscious.
The moral of the story? Beware the next time you hear someone in the trombone section yell out "Hey, everyone, watch this!"
Here's one that definately qualifies for the "Darwin Awards". This was on the Lewis & Floorwax Show, on 103.5 FM, The Fox Radio in Denver.
DATELINE: Michigan, USA.
A guy buys a brand new Grand Cherokee for 30 some thousand dollars and has 400+ dollar monthly payments. He immediately gets ahold of his friend and they go to do some male bonding. They go duck hunting, and of course all the lakes are frozen. These 2 Atomic Brains go to the lake with the guns, the dog, the beer and of course the new vehicle.
They drive out onto the lake ice and get ready. Now, they want to make some kind of a natural landing area for the ducks, something for the decoys to float on. Remember, it's all ice and in order to make a hole large enough to look like something a wandering duck wants to fly down and land on, it is going to take a little more effort than an ice hole drill.
Out of the back of the new Grand Cherokee comes a stick of dynamite with a short, 40 second fuse.
Now these 2 Rocket Scientists do take into consideration that if they place the stick of dynamite on the ice at a location far from where they are standing (and the new Grand Cherokee), they take the risk of slipping on the ice when they run from the burning fuse and possibly going up in smoke with the resulting blast. So, they decide to light this 40 second fuse and throw the dynamite, which is what they end up doing.
Remember a couple of paragraphs back when I mentioned the vehicle, the beer, the guns AND THE DOG ????
Yes, the dog. A highly trained Black Lab used for retrieving, especially things thrown by the owner.
You guessed it, the dog takes off at a high rate of doggy speed on the ice and gets the stick of dynamite with the burning 40 second fuse about the time it hits the ice, all to the woes of the 2 idiots yelling, stomping, waving arms and wondering what the hell to do now.
The dog, well, its just about as happy as a pig in sh.t and heads back from where it came from moments before, with the stick of dynamite, only to the mounting woes of the 2 bozo's now really waving their arms, yelling even louder and jumping to newer heights than ever before.
Now one of the guys decides to think (something that he has never done before this moment), grabs a shotgun and shoots the dog. The shotgun is loaded with #8 bird shot, hardly big enough to stop a Black Lab on its appointed rounds. Dog stops for a moment, slightly confused and continues on. Another shot and this time the dog, still standing, becomes really confused & of course scared, thinking these 2 Nobel Prize winners have gone insane and takes off to find cover, with the now really short short fuse burning on this stick of dynamite.
The cover the dogs finds? You got it. Underneath the brand new Grand Cherokee 30, some thousand dollar, $400+ monthly payment vehicle sitting on the lake ice.
The dog dies, and it and the brand new Grand Cherokee, 30 some thousand dollar $400+ monthly payment vehicle, sink to the bottom of the lake leaving the 2 candidates for Co-leaders of the Known Universe standing there with this "I can't believe this happened" look on their faces.
Later, the owner of the vehicle calls his insurance company which tells him that sinking a vehicle in a lake by illegal use of explosives is not covered. He had yet to make the first of those $400+ a month payments.
Lawn Chair Larry
1982 Darwin Stupidity Award
Confirmed True by Darwin
Larry Walters of Los Angeles is one of the few to contend for the Darwin the award and live to tell about his exploits. Larry's boyhood dream was to fly. When he graduated from high school, he joined the Air Force in hopes of becoming a pilot. Unfortunately, poor eyesight disqualified him. When he was finally discharged, he had to satisfy himself with watching jets flyover his backyard.
One day, Larry brightened up: he decided to fly. He went to the local Army-Navy surplus store and purchased 45 weather balloons and several tanks of helium. The weather balloons, when fully inflated, measured more than four feet across. Back home, Larry securely strapped the balloons to his sturdy lawn chair. He anchored the chair to the bumper of his jeep and inflated the balloons with the helium. He climbed on for a test while it was still only a few feet above the ground. Satisfied that it would work, Larry packed several sandwiches and a six-pack of Miller Lite, loaded his pellet gun--figuring he could pop a few balloons when it was time to descend--and went back to the floating lawn chair where he tied himself in along with his pellet gun and provisions. Larry's plan was to lazily float up to a height of about 30 feet above his back yard after severing the anchor and in a few hours come back down.
Things didn't quite work out as planned for Larry. When he cut the cord anchoring the lawn chair to his jeep, he didn't float lazily up to 30 or so feet. Instead he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon. He didn't level off at 30 feet, nor did he level off at 100 feet. After climbing and climbing, he leveled off at 11,000 feet. At that height he couldn't risk shooting any of the balloons, lest he unbalance the load and really find himself in trouble. So he stayed there, drifting, cold, and frightened, for more than 14 hours, when he found himself in the primary approach corridor of LAX.
A Pan Am pilot first spotted Larry. He radioed the tower and described passing a guy in a lawn chair with a gun. Radar confirmed the existence of an object floating 11,000 feet above the airport. LAX emergency procedures swung into full alert and a helicopter was dispatched to investigate. LAX is right on the ocean. Night was falling and the offshore breeze began to blow. It carried Larry out to sea. Right on Larry's heels was the helicopter. Several miles out, the helicopter caught up with him. Once the crew determined that Larry was not dangerous, they attempted to close in for a rescue but the draft from the blades kept pushing him away whenever they neared. Finally, the helicopter ascended to a position several hundred feet above Larry and lowered a rescue line. Larry snagged the line, with which he was hauled back to shore--a difficult maneuver flawlessly executed by the helicopter crew. As soon as Larry was deposited on earth, he was arrested by waiting members of the LAPD for violating LAX airspace. As he was led away in handcuffs, a reporter dispatched to cover the daring rescue asked him why he had done it. Larry stopped, turned, and replied nonchalantly, "A man can't just sit around." -Walter Hecht.
Note: Douglas Walker informs us that this story is from a book called "Stabbed with a Wedge of Cheese" published in the 80's. Thanks, D!
Addendum: Ed Greany sends us the following details:
I am a member of Crest REACT (a non-profit organization who monitored the C.B. Channel 9 for emergencies. I have the entire event recorded on cassette while Larry and Santiago REACT Unit 66 were in C.B. contact. He was not rescued by a helicopter as you inaccurately reported. He came down of his own actions and became entangled in power lines. Unfortunately, he also committed suicide and is not alive as you also report. He recorded a song called "Lawn Chair that Flew" c. 1982 ASCAP and Larry gave me a personal copy. I had him as a guest visitor / speaker at a later REACT Council meeting in Corona, CA. The C.B. recording is not copywrited and you may have a copy with a S.A.S.E. and $2 to cover duplication. Submitted by Walter Hecht, Douglas Walker, Ed Greany