Thursday, September 16, 2010


These are from the actual Darwin Awards site:

Who would park the car on a busy freeway in heavy fog, for a quickie?

Picture this: A young couple driving on Via Dutra, the major freeway in Brazil with tons of heavy traffic, at 6AM under heavy fog the couple decided to park the car for "dating" according to the charming Google translation. And yes, they parked in the right lane of freeway, not on the shoulder or at a gas station - and naturally, a huge cargo truck comes by and runs right over the car, immediately killing both inside during the act. Double Double Darwin! Two (2) people making two obviously stupid decisions, and natural selection acts at the very moment the two are reproducing . . . Textbook Darwin Award.

Glacier Erasure

In the late fall and early winter months, snow-covered mountains become infested with hunters. One ambitious pair climbed high up a mountain in search of their quarry. The trail crossed a small glacier that had crusted over. The lead hunter had to stomp a foot-hold in the snow, one step at a time, in order to cross the glacier.

Somewhere near the middle of the glacier, his next stomp hit not snow but a rock. The lead hunter lost his footing and fell. Down the crusty glacier he zipped, off the edge and out of sight.

Unable to help, his companion watched him slide away. After a while, he shouted out, "Are you OK?"

"Yes!" came the answer.

Reasoning that it was a quick way off the glacier, the second hunter plopped down and accelerated down the ice, following his friend. There, just over the edge of the glacier, was his friend . . . holding onto the top of a tree that barely protruded from the snow.

There were no other treetops nearby, nothing to grab, nothing but a hundred-foot drop onto the rocks below. As the second hunter shot past the first, he uttered his final epitaph: a single word . . .

Burdens of our Fathers

(April 2010, Romania) A thirty-five-year-old man from Braila was only trying to fix a broken soil tamper, a tool his father had made himself and used for decades. The metal handle of this family heirloom had rusted loose and our man was trying to weld it back into position, but unfortunately he was welding the metal rod onto an antique WWII cannon shell.

Yes, the family had been banging a cannon shell against the garden dirt for two generations!

Specialists from the Bucharest ISU (General Institute for Emergency Situations) stated that the first weld had been made in a harmless position, but the second weld was made in exactly the wrong spot. The heat triggered the shell to explode, mortally wounding the man. In his defense, he was sure the projectile was harmless because his father had used it to compact earth for almost 40 years.

If one generation doesn't get it right, the next does.

Barrel Ride, with Flames!

(19 July 2010, Washington) Two out-of-town race car crew were at a machine shop that builds and services race cars, when they dreamed up an unusual thrill ride. Fire Chief Dean Klinger reported that on Sunday evening, the men poured four gallons of methanol into a 55-gallon barrel in the parking lot, sat on top of the barrel, and lit it.

The men were in the town of Sedro-Woolley (pop. 10,000) to participate in the American Sprint Car Series at Skagit Raceway. Apparently they thought the barrel would slide across the parking lot like a rocket sled, with a tail of flame shooting out, and two rodeo clowns sitting on top, waving their caps and hooting. But instead of sliding across the pavement, the barrel blew up beneath them. Who woulda thunk that 4 gallons of methanol inside a 55-gallon drum would be a bomb?

The explosion was so powerful that one end of the barrel landed 120 feet away from the blast site. The two geniuses landed in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Racing folks are smart people with a high degree of mechanical ability. The work is risky, but this was not a random "shop accident." Rather, it was a dangerous and ill-conceived stunt by two bored men who were hoping to find some fun in the small town of Sedro-Woolley. Instead of fun, one man lost his life, and a second survived with a sober lesson on the power of combustion.

Epitaph: She Liked Feathers

22 Feb 2009, Devon, UK. Location: A seaside town, a coastal trail. Fencing was in place to protect people from falling off the path, but this protective barrier was no match for the allure of a feather blown by the breeze . . . just out of reach. A woman in her forties climbed that fence and chased the elusive feather right off a seaside cliff.

Double Parking

10 December 2009, Philippines: This small island nation has already produced several of the most illustrious Darwin Award winners. Intelligence Blunders: National Bureau of Investigation agents cop a smoke in a room full of seized explosives, and Home Grown Parachute: An airplane hijacker robs passengers then bails out with an untested homemade parachute. Now the Philippines have produced that rare oddity, the Double Darwin Award.

We begin with Francisco C. and Ronaldo C., two businessmen who own restaurants adjacent to one another on Apacible Boulevard in Batangas. Their tempers erupt over a poorly parked car.

One has partially blocked the door to the other's establishment, and this does not sit well. Heated words are exchanged, a fistfight breaks out! But bystanders pacify the fighters, and the situation is defused. Or is it?

Each man retreats to his respective car, pulls out a gun, and shoots the other - killing both. Francisco suffered two bullet wounds to his chest, Renaldo was shot once beneath his arm. Francisco, 41, and Ronaldo, 39, two enemies brought together in death - much to their own chagrin.

Tiny Electric Fence

10 January 2010, Brazil: An electrical discharge made toast of municipal guard Arthur de Souza Coelho, 47, on Sunday evening. According to police reports, he had installed a tiny electric fence around his car to protect against the frequent robberies that occur in his neighborhood in Belem, Para. Then (direct translation from Portuguese) "he forgot that he had left the fence on and he ended dying with the electric shock."

After all, we are all dying, but some end sooner than others.


1 January 2010, Netherlands: Every now and then a completely new window into the world opens before our eyes. Here we have rural Dutch families enjoying their traditional winter sport, carbidschieten, or Carbide Shooting. It's a ridiculously dangerous machine akin to a potato gun, designed to hurl projectiles from the mouth of a metal milk can.

Carbide shooting, that wacky Dutch New Year's tradition, begins with moistening calcicum carbide and placing it in a large milk container. The damp CaCb emits acetylene (ethyne) gas which builds up inside the container. Then a spark is supplied, causing the pressurised gas bomb to blow the lid (or packing) off the milk jug.

Our nominee, a 54-year-old male, was having the time of his life - right up until the moment he poured a container filled with liquid oxygen over a fire to "flare it up" - and the container obligingly exploded.

Self-Defeating Insurance Fraud

1 November 2009, Belgium: Police received a desperate call from a man who had been attacked on a motorway near the town of Liege. When the policemen arrived, they found Thierry B., 37, lying dead on the ground, his body stabbed, his car burning. Witnesses had seen a big truck driving away.

But there was no evidence of fighting or struggling around the body - only the knife wounds on his shoulder and neck. Puzzled, inspectors analysed Thierry's cell phone calls. He had recently reconnected with an old friend, a fact that intrigued Inspector Clouseau. I mean, Commissioner Lamoque. Childhood friend, lost sight of for ten years, back in touch? Lamoque asked the 42-year-old friend in for a chat about the roadside aggression.

Turns out the dead man was aggrieved regarding insurance money he felt was owed, but never paid, after his restaurant burned two years before. He had asked his old friend to bring him a knife and a jerrycan of fuel, and leave him alone on the motorway: a man with a plan to get the insurance money one way or another.

The "victim" then set his car on fire, called police, and stabbed himself, accidentally cutting an artery in his own neck. By the time his simulated act of violence was over, he was over too, face against the ground ten yards from his burned car. Roll credits on this little drama.

"Mock aggression mocks death"

Teeming With Crocodiles

1 January 2010, South Africa: Let's just say it was a short New Year for Mariska B., 27, a waitress and former swimmer.

According to a long-time resident of Phalaborwa, locals know, "You don't even put a toe in the river. It's teeming with crocodiles and hippos." This local, on her third refreshing dip of the day, didn't have time to scream or struggle. Friends saw just a ripple on the water where seconds before she had been swimming.

Did I mention that swimming was strictly prohibited? Police searched for Mariska's body with long poles, and with the chemical detectors known as sniffer dogs, but found nothing. The cycle of life continues.

SIDEBAR: Olifants = Elephant

"Dedicated to the memory of those persons who improve the human genome by accidentally removing themselves from it."

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