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  • Paul Dever
    Nov 18, 1999
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      The 1998 Darwin Awards are finally here.

      For those not familiar with the Darwin Award -
      It's an annual honor given to the person who did
      the universal human gene pool the biggest service
      by getting killed in the most extraordinarily
      stupid way. As always, competition this year has
      been keen again. Some candidates appear to have
      trained their whole lives for this event.

      The Darwin Awards Nominees

      1. In September in Detroit, a 41-year-old man got
      stuck and drowned in two feet of water after
      squeezing head first through an 18-inch wide sewer
      grate to retrieve his car keys.

      2. 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.

      3. Buxton, NC: 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.

      4. In February, Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed
      in Lompoc, CA, as he fell face-first through the
      ceiling of a bicycle shop he was burglarizing.
      Death was caused when the long flashlight he had
      placed in his mouth (to keep his hands free)
      rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the
      floor.

      5. 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.

      6. 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.

      7. 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.

      8. [Ineligible, but credit given for
      trying]AUGUSTA, ME - Four people were injured in a
      string of bizarre accidents. Sherry Moeller was
      admitted with a head wound caused by flying
      masonry, Tim Vegas was diagnosed with a mild case
      of whiplash and contusions on his chest, arms
      and face, Bryan Corcoran suffered torn gum tissue,
      and Pamela Klesick's first two fingers of her
      right hand had been bitten off. Moeller had just
      dropped her husband off for his first day of work
      and, in addition to a good-bye kiss, she flashed
      her breasts at him. "I'm still not sure why I did
      it," she said later. "I was really close to the
      car, so I didn't think anyone would see. Besides,
      it couldn't have been for more than two seconds."
      However, cab driver Vegas did see, and lost
      control of His cab, running over the curb and into
      the corner of the Johnson Medical Building.
      Inside, Klesick, a dental technician, was cleaning
      Corcoran's teeth. The crash of the cab against the
      building made her jump, tearing Corcoran's gums
      with a cleaning pick. In shock, he bit down,
      severing two fingers from Klesick's hand.
      Moeller's wound was caused by a falling piece of
      the medical building.

      9. [Ineligible, better luck next year!] TAOS, NM -
      A woman went to a poison control center after
      eating three birth-control vaginal inserts. Her
      English was so bad she had to draw a picture
      describing how she believed she had poisoned
      herself. A translator arrived shortly thereafter
      and confirmed doctors' suspicions. Marie
      Valishnokov thought the inserts were some kind of
      candy or gum, being unable to read the foil
      wrappers. After the third one, she realized
      something was wrong when her throat and mouth
      began to fill with a sour-tasting foam. She ran
      for the Poison Control Center, only a few blocks
      away where doctors were able to flush the foam
      from her mouth, throat, and stomach with no ill
      effects.

      10. [Ineligible, but a strong contender for 99]
      TACOMA, WA - Kerry Bingham, had been drinking with
      several friends when one of them said they knew a
      person who had bungee-jumped from the Tacoma
      Narrows Bridge in the middle of traffic. The
      conversation grew more heated and a least 10 men
      trooped along the walkway of the bridge at 4:30
      a.m. Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge
      they discovered that no one had brought bungee
      rope. Bingham, who had continued drinking,
      volunteered and pointed out that a coil of cable
      had been left near the railing. Bingham's leg and
      the other end was tied to the bridge. His fall
      lasted 40 feet before the cable tightened and tore
      his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously
      survived his fall into the icy river water and was
      rescued by two nearby fishermen. "All I can
      say,"said Bingham, "is that God was watching out
      for me on that night. There's just no other
      explanation for it." Bingham's foot was never
      located.


      11. On February 3, 1990, a Renton, Washington man
      tried to commit a robbery. This was probably his
      first attempt, as suggested by the fact that he
      had no previous record of violent crime, and by
      his terminally stupid choices as listed below: 1.
      The target was H&J Leather & Firearms, a gun shop;
      2. The shop was full of customers, in a state
      where a substantial portion of the adult
      population is licensed to carry concealed handguns
      in public places; 3. To enter the shop, he had to
      step around a marked Police patrol car parked at
      the front door; 4. An officer in uniform was
      standing next to the counter, having coffee before
      reporting to duty. Upon seeing the officer, the
      would-be robber announced a holdup and fired a few
      wild shots. The officer and a clerk promptly
      returned fire, removing him from the gene pool.
      Several other customers also drew their guns, but
      didn't fire. No one else was hurt.

      12. In France, Jacques LeFevrier left nothing to
      chance when he decided to commit suicide. He stood
      at the top of a tall 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. Free of the threat of hanging, he
      plunged into the sea. The sudden 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 hospital, where he
      died - of hypothermia.

      13. In September, a 7-year- old boy fell off a
      100-foot-high bluff near Ozark, Ark., after he
      lost his grip swinging on a cross that marked
      the spot where another person had fallen to his
      death in 1990.

      14. 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
      folk 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 rest of 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.

      DARWIN AWARD HONORABLE MENTIONS

      (1) 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.

      (2) 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.

      (3) Paul Stiller, 47, was hospitalized in Andover
      Township, NJ,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 2AM,
      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.

      AND THE WINNER IS.... Japan Times-April 16, 1997

      "The government must crack down on this disgusting
      craze of 'Pumping'", a spokesman for the Nakhon
      Ratchasima hospital told reporters. "If this
      perversion catches on, it will destroy the cream
      of Thailand's manhood." He was speaking after the
      remains of 13 year-old Charnchai Puanmuangpak had
      been rushed into the hospital's emergency room.
      "Most 'Pumpers' use a standard bicycle pump," he
      explained, "inserting the nozzle far up their
      rectum, giving themselves a rush of air, creating
      a momentary high. This act is a sin against God."
      It appears that the young Charnchai took it
      further still. He started using a two-cylinder
      foot pump, but even that wasn't exciting enough
      for him, so he boasted to friends that he was
      going to try the compressed air hose at a nearby
      gasoline station. They dared him to do it, so,
      under cover of darkness, he snuck in. Not
      realizing how powerful the machine was, he
      inserted the tube deep into his rectum, and placed
      a coin in the slot. As a result, he died virtually
      instantly, leaving passers-by still in shock. One
      woman thought she was watching a twilight firework
      display, and started clapping. "We still haven't
      located all of him", say the police authorities.
      "When that quantity of air interacted with the gas
      in his system, he nearly exploded. It was like an
      atom bomb went off or something." "Pumping is the
      devil's pastime, and we must all say no to Satan,"
      Ratchasima concluded. "Inflate your tires by all
      means, but then hide your bicycle pump where it
      cannot tempt you." Let's hear it for Charnchai
      Puanmuangpak, the NEW 1998 undisputed Darwin Award
      recipient!
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