You may recall last year's Darwin Award winner: The man who found out moments before making a 300 MPH dent in an Arizona cliff that the JATO (jet assist take off) unit he'd strapped to his car could not be turned off once it was turned on.
Darwin Awards are (by definition) granted posthumously. This citation is bestowed upon (the remains of) that individual, who through single-minded self-sacrifice, has done the most to remove undesirable elements from the human gene pool.
The 1997 nominees are:
[AP, Mammoth Lakes, CA] 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, St. Louis, MO] 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.
[UPI, Spain] To poacher Marino Malerba, who shot a stag standing above him on an overhanging rock -- and was killed instantly when it fell on him.
[Associated Press, Kincaid, W. VA] A man at a party popped a blastingcap 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.
[UPI, Portland, OR] 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.
[San Jose Mercury News] An unidentified man, using a shotgun like a club to break a former girlfriend's windshield, accidentally shot himself to death when the gun discharged, blowing a hole in his gut.
[Hickory Daily Record 12/21/92] 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.
[Unknown, 25 March] 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 of 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 been 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 rescuers got sick and one was hospitalized.
[Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario] Man slips, falls 23 stories to his death. 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. 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."
[UPI, Toronto] 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. 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 thefirm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" members of the 200-man association.
[AP, Cairo, Egypt, 31 Aug 1995 CAIRO, Egypt (AP)] 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 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.
[Times of London] 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 doctor's 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 10seconds. 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.
[Another nominee] There are many transmission lines that crisscross Connecticut. These are held up by Transmission Towers of various constructions. Those most commonly installed near urban areas are called "metal Ornamental Towers" (supposedly prettier than wood towers). Sometimes adventurous folks climb the towers in order to enjoy the view and the night air. Most stay away from the wires,and when they get bored, come back down.
Apparently, a man who was forlorn after a recent spat with his girlfriend needed some fresh air to clear his head and decided to climb a tower.
He stopped for a 6 pack to help clear his thoughts, went to a tower south of Hartford, next to I-91, and climbed it.
Public Service employees later pieced the story together. The man sat there 60 feet above the highway, drank his beer and consoled his bruised ego. After 5 beers, he needed to do what people often need to do after 5 beers. It being such a long hike down, he unzipped and did his business right there off the tower.
Electricity is a funny thing. One doesn't need to touch a wire in order to get shocked. Depending on conditions, 115,000 volt lines, like those supported by the tower, could shock a person as far away as 6 feet. When the man "whizzed" near the conductor (wire), the power arced to his "stream" (urine is an excellent conductor of electricity), traveled up to his private parts, and blew him off the tower.
The guys at the power company noted a momentary outage on this line and sent repairmen to see if there was any damage. When they got to the scene of the accident, they found a very dead person, his fly down, what was left of his private parts smoking, and a single beer left on top of the tower.
"More intelligence-challenged people"
* 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.
* Portsmouth, R.I.Police charged Gregory Rosa, 25, with a string of vending machine robberies in January when he: 1. fled from police inexplicably when they spotted him loitering around a vending machine and 2. later tried to post his $400 bail in coins.
* Karen Lee Joachimi, 20, was arrested in Lake City, Florida, for robbery of a Howard Johnson's motel. She was armed with only an electric chainsaw, which was not plugged in.
* The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 7:50 am, flashed a gun and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.
In case you've forgotten about the 1995 awardees, some of them are listed below:
* 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." [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.
* 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.
* 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.
Recently while reading the "News of the Weird" section, in a "New Times" newspaper, (a free newspaper that is distributed in some of the larger cities around), I ran across this small article, and immediately recognized the potential that these individuals have demonstrated to be front runners for a "Darwin".
Here is the article in its entirety:
Michael Anderson Goodwin made "News of the Weird" posthumously in 1989. He had spent several years awaiting South Carolina's electric chair on a murder conviction before having his sentence reduced to life. In March 1989, sitting on a metal toilet in his cell and attempting to fix his TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted. (Talk about poetic justice). On January 1, 1997, Lawrence Baker, once on death row but at the time serving a life sentence at the state prison in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was electrocuted by his home made earphones as he watched TV while sitting on a metal toilet.