2002 Darwin Awards

    Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.

Number 10.  The Worm Has Turned

(October 2002, Norway)  It's a well-known fishing trick.  Put 12V electrodes into the ground if you want worms come to the surface.  One 23-year-old Laagendalsposten man withdrew his genes from the pool when he tried to speed up the process.  He figured that 220V, 50Hz, would bring more worms out faster, and he decided to test his theory.  Alas, he did so squatting on a steel bucket, holding an electrode in one hand with the other in the ground a few feet.  He seemed determined to enter the eternal fishing grounds.  Quicker than spit, that wish was granted.  Our Darwin winner leaves only parents -- and no offspring -- back by the earthly creek.

Number 9. Slip Sliding Away

(8 September 2002, Italy)  "Hey watch this!"  A 53-year-old Glasgow man, attempting what police describe as a bizarre stunt, attached a climber's snap hook to an unused overhead tram cable and attempted to manually ride down the mountain.  But the mountain was steep, gravity was constant, and he was unable to moderate his rate of descent.  He accelerated out of control, and within seconds crashed against the rocks, and proceeded to bash his way 200 meters down the slope before impacting a pylon.  Reports state that several people attempted to stop him from riding down the cable.  He should have listened to their advice.  When he came to rest, he was DOA.

Number 8. Border Crossing

(March 2002, Hungary)  Because of the threat of nuclear smugglers from ex-USSR countries, Hungarian border guards working the Ukraine border are responsible for more than passport control.  Even the smallest border stations have Geiger-Muller detector gates, which resemble empty doorframes like the metal detectors at airports.  But instead of metal, they detect radioactive materials.  A man with a backpack arrived at the border.  He seemed a bit dizzy, maybe drunk, but vodka is cheap in the Ukraine and drunken men are common in this area.  The man was instructed to pass through the Geiger-Muller detector gate.  Although he seemed a bit anxious, finally he obeyed -- and the gate signalled an urgent alert.  One glance at the dosimeter, and people were running for their lives.  The man was hot!  The Hungarian army dispatched an ABC (Atomic-Biological-Chemical) reconnaissance vehicle to investigate and decontaminate the scene.  The soldiers found the man sprawled facedown, dead, a few steps away from the gate.  They turned the body over and found a large wound burnt into his stomach.  The moron had taped a chunk of a radioactive substance to his body!  They found a discarded nuclear waste canister on the Ukrainian side of the border.  If the man hadn't removed the contents and hidden it under his clothing, neither the gate nor the border guards would have spotted what he was carrying.  He would still be alive today, but perhaps others would not.

Number 7. Wrong and Wronger

(29 July 2002, Ukraine)  Late one night, the inhabitants of Yuvieyna village, a suburb of Lugansk, awoke to a loud explosion.  Not long before the explosion, a 40-year-old deputy of the local administration board had taken his dog out for a walk.  He encountered a Police Academy cadet who was escorting two women to their homes.  The cadet pointed out that the deputy's dog was not allowed on a public street without a lead and muzzle.  Now, only an exceedingly bold cadet would be presumptuous enough to tell a village deputy what to do, so the two men began to argue.  Unable to resolve the matter by verbal means, the deputy finally pulled out a military RGD-5 hand grenade and threw it to the cadet's feet.  His well-trained dog immediately ran for the object and fetched it for his master... and man and dog met the same messy fate. Police are investigating how the deputy came to have a grenade in a country where citizens are forbidden to carry arms, let alone military ordinance.

Number 6. Bees 1, Humans 0

(23 September 2002, Brazil)  A farm keeper from São Paulo decided to remove a beehive from his orange tree.  He didn't know exactly how to proceed, but he knew the hive should be burned, and he knew bees sting.  So he protected his head with a plastic bag sealed tightly around his neck, grabbed a torch, and went off to fight the bees.  His worried wife went to look for him a few hours later, and found him dead.  However, it wasn't the bees that killed him.  The plastic bag had protected him from smoke, stingers, and... oxygen!  He had forgotten to put breathing holes in the bag.

Number 5. Wounded Wire Bites Back

(14 February 2002, Pennsylvania)  Daniel and his friend were practicing their marksmanship by shooting at targets in a farm field.  But instead of the usual choices of mice, bottles, or birds, they selected a more worthy adversary: electrical insulators.  These pear-shaped glass or plastic devices are intended to hold electrical wires aloft.  But after the men shot six insulators off two utility poles, the shattered targets were no longer up to the job.  A high-voltage wire fell to the ground and Daniel, attempting to prevent a serious fire, seized the sizzling wire in his hand, and was electrocuted.  An Allegheny Power spokesman advised people not to shoot at electrical insulators.

Number 4. Tied Off

(Iowa)  Several years ago, an adventurous pair decided to take their ropes and rappel off the Boone Scenic Valley Railroad train over the Des Moines river.  Words can't describe how breathtakingly high this narrow train bridge is over the river valley.  The open train ride over the abyss is both stunningly beautiful and somewhat nerve-wracking.  Our adventurers had to be completely fearless, because they walked to the middle of this narrow railroad bridge, tied off their ropes, and began to rappel down.  When the train came by on it's daily tour of the valley, their one mistake became apparent.  They had tied the ropes to the sturdiest support possible: the steel train tracks...

Number 3. What's That Sound?

(2 August 2002, Kansas)  Police said an Olathe man was struck and killed by a train after his vehicle broke down on Interstate 35.  His attempts at repairing his car had failed, and he had stepped away from the busy freeway to call for help, when the train engineer spotted him standing on the tracks.  The engineer said the man was holding a cell phone to one ear, and cupping his hand to the other ear to block the noise of the train.

Number 2. 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.

and finally, the Number 1 2002 Darwin Award Winner . . .

Number 1. 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, rather than face possible jail time for a parole violation.  This was the first of two successive mental lapses.  Gerald's actual thoughts are unknown, but *may* have been something like this:  "The officers are only suspicious and alert now... I'll make them hot, sweaty, tired, and angry by leading them on a wild chase through dark alleys and fields."  During the subsequent foot chase, Gerald attempted to dissuade officers from the pursuit by firing a 9mm Ruger semiautomatic handgun blindly over his shoulder.  This was the second illustration of a potential mental deficiency.  "Officers are running behind me. They have guns. I have a gun!  They have eyes in the front of their heads, so they can see to aim at me.  I don't have eyes in the back of my head, so I'll fire wildly behind me and see what happens!"  Unfortunately, Gerald appears to have been one of those folks who can't chew gum and walk at the same time.  Or at least 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.  Four shots were fired, none by the officers, who found Gerald's pistol next to his fallen body.  Gerald was transported to a local hospital where he expired the following day, thus removing a set of genes deficient in both judgment and coordination from the gene pool.

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