2008 Top Ten Darwin Awards

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

10. Clotheslined!

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(13 January 2008, Florida)

            Wearing only swim trunks and sneakers, a 37-year-old man raced his motorcycle toward the Manasota Key drawbridge. As the bridge began to open, it was clear that he intended to "shoot the gap." Bridge designers had anticipated such lunacy and invented the crossing guard. The closing gates swept him off his Suzuki, over the side of the bridge, into the water, and out of the gene pool. By a twist of fate the motorcycle continued up the ramp and made it across to the other side.


9. Wascally Wabbit

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Unconfirmed by Darwin

            Snowmobiles and alcohol are a dangerous mix. Then came the rabbit.

            After a day spent partying and racing snowmobiles in the wilderness, a group of snowmobilers were headed back to their cabin, when up popped a jackrabbit! They gave chase. Several collisions were narrowly averted, and so all the snowmobiles backed off... except one.

            This snowmobiler kept his eye on the quarry and rapidly closed in. The rabbit darted aside to save itself. The snowmobiler closed in again. The rabbit ran toward the road, where there was less snow. Trying to ram his rabbit before it crossed the road, the man accelerated to Mach 1.

            But the rabbit had other ideas. It darted into the culvert beneath the road. Witnesses stated that the snowmobiler never even braked. There was a metallic crunch as the accelerating vehicle rammed into the culvert, followed by a blast that shattered the snowmobile into a thousand bits.

            This brand of snowmobile had a fuel tank mounted in front. The culvert admitted the tip of the snowmobile, then cut into the cowling, spilling fuel over the hot engine. The body of the snowmobiler was blown twenty feet back into the field.

            The rabbit's whereabouts was unknown.

8. Boner!

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(2 February 2008, New York)

            A 50-year-old man was bird hunting in Upstate New York with his buddies and his faithful canine companion. They stopped for a smoke, and his dog found a deer leg bone!

            The man tried to take the bone away, but like any right thinking dog, the animal would not relinquish its treasure. He stayed just out of reach. Frustrated with this blatant show of disobedience, the man grabbed his loaded shotgun by the muzzle and began wielding it like a club. Each time he swung it, the dog dodged.

            Suddenly the "club" struck the ground and fired, shooting the man in the abdomen. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he died from his injuries. He did remain conscious long enough to confirm this account to police; otherwise, his poor friends might now be under suspicion!

            At least he didn't hit the dog.


7. Not a Shred of Sense

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Unconfirmed by Darwin

            The ambulance responded to a frantic call concerning a neighbor's trip through an industrial tree shredder. It seems the individual had decided to prune his own trees, rather than hire a professional. Why not? After all, the local shop rented shredders that could make quick work of yard debris, including tree limbs up to 8 inches in diameter.

            To save time (those fateful words) the neighbor had placed the shredder at the base of a great oak tree, where he could drop branches directly into the hopper. He intended to cut off the top third of the oak, since it had been killed by lightning.

            With the shredder running wide open, the neighbor climbed his ladder to the first tree branch, stepped off the ladder, slipped, and fell. The paramedics found him very dead, half in and half out of the shredder's hopper, one leg shredded to the hip.

            Not married, no kids, removed self from the gene pool.


6. Merry Pranksters

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Unconfirmed by Darwin

            The telephone company was replacing above-ground telephone lines with buried lines. In one sparsely populated farming area, if lines crossed a country road they would dig a trench halfway across, so rural traffic could continue through. Then they would fill in the trench, and dig a trench on the other side.

            One morning, local farmers called the sheriff to report a smashed-up pickup. Inside were two ranch hands who were last seen the previous night, heading home after last call. You see...

            On their way to the bars, the men had decided to play a prank. They stopped their pickup, and moved the flashing warning signs from the trenched side to the good side of the country road. Crime scene analysis later confirmed that they were the culprits who moved the flashing stands. Investigations also revealed that at the time of the accident, they were driving at an excessive speed with an impressive amount of alcohol in their systems.

            No crime scene analysis is capable of determining whether the ranch hands forgot their prank, or chose to see what would happen if they hit that trench at a high rate of speed in the middle of the night.

            No good prank goes unpunished.


5. Thou Shalt Not Steel

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(8 March 2008, Czech Republic)

            Steel is valuable, especially the high-grade alloy used in steel cable. Scrap metal dealers do not ask questions. They pay in cash. And a good supply of steel cable can be found in elevator shafts.

            This particular gold mine was a towering shaft inside an empty granary near Zatec, forty miles northwest of Prague. The cable was tightly fastened, and the far end of it disappeared into the shadowy distance above.

            After substantial wear and tear on a hacksaw, our man finally cut through the strong steel cable. At that instant the counterbalance, no longer held in check, started to move silently downward, accelerating until it reached the bottom of the shaft.

Result: one proud winner of a "terminal velocity" Darwin Award.



4. Pining Away

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Unconfirmed by Darwin

Rare Double Darwin!

            Three hale and hearty young men had finished their basic training. Before heading out to their respective assignments, they decided to spend their few days of leave with one's grandmother, who lived in the town where they had completed basic training. The privates descended upon Grandmother, who filled them with home cooking and gave them soft beds to sleep in. Grandmother had a swing job to make ends meet, so the privates were left alone late into the night.

            How could they repay her for her kindness?

            Grandmother had three children. To commemorate the birth of each child, a pine tree had been planted in the front yard. In the fifty years since the last tree was planted, the pines had grown considerably, and the middle tree now blocked the view from the living room window. The privates decided that they would cut down that tree, letting the sun and the view into the room.

            A case of beer went into the planning.

            To keep the 50-foot tree from crushing the house, the privates reasoned that they would tie a rope to the top of the tree and pull the rope away from the house as the tree was cut.

            The middle pine tree, the doomed one, was slightly closer to the house than the other two. The privates climbed an end tree, wound a rope through its upper branches, and threw the rope to a private in the middle tree. He tied the rope around the trunk. By this device, they could pull the rope from the ground. The middle pine tree would fall away from the house, and the privates were also clear of the path of the falling tree.

            Climbing a pine tree is very sappy work, and scrapes and gouges are inflicted by the natural roughness of its bark. But the hale and hearty privates completed the preliminaries without complaint. The middle tree was lassoed and levered by the rope running through the end tree.

            So far, so good.

            Two privates were situated on the ground, each straining to pull the tree away from Grandmother's house. The third private revved his 20 HP chainsaw and started to cut. Lo and behold, the tree actually fell away from Grandmother's house! However...

            The rope-pulling privates had wrapped the rope around their waists, not considering that the falling pine weighed several tons. As the middle pine tree fell, both privates were ripped off their feet and smashed through the branches of the end pine tree. At the height of their acceleration, they broke through the top branches of the tree, and were briefly airborne before being jerked toward the earth when the middle tree hit the ground. The privates entered into Darwin history, either on the way up through the branches or on the way down to the cold, hard ground.

            The event spoke for itself.


3. Rub the Mint

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Unconfirmed by Darwin

(December 1988, Romania)

            I was a student of electricity and mechanics in Communist Romania. At the time, it was mandatory for all children, including university students, to boost the economy by 'active participation.' Each autumn we worked in agriculture, harvesting fruits and vegetables, and for three weeks per year we were required to train in a power plant or factory, to get a feel for successful communist industry. This was known as "Rub The Mint".

            My class was sent to Slatina where aluminum was obtained with the old power-hungry electrolysis process. We were not much use, so we were ignored by the people in charge of our 'training.' We spent the down time reviewing our class notes. Not only were the students bored, but so were many workers in the factory, who were actually paid for doing nothing.

            One day I was assigned to walk documents from one department to another. On the way, I spotted two men crafting a wooden coffin. I was accustomed to all kinds of crazy sights, but a coffin... intriguing. Was the aluminum factory branching out into funeral supplies? No. "The coffin is for a comrade who accidentally removed himself from the gene pool," the woodcrafters told me.

            Two recent hires, men in their twenties, were fiddling with the pressurized air hose used to power industrial air tools. They swept the dust off their dusty clothes; this was so much fun, one of them dropped his pants to feel the air sweep across his testicles. He bent further, and bet his comrade that he had the guts to pressurize his guts, and maybe have some fun farts. He proceeded to stick the hose in his anus and release six bar (atmospheres) of pressure, inflating and rupturing his colon and intestines.

            He died within minutes from massive internal hemorrhage. He would not have survived even if he had pressurized himself in a hospital corridor. The autopsy revealed that the deceased had ruptured several meters of his colon and intestines. He was later found to have broken (heh) internal (heh) regulations. His 'scientific collaborator' stated that he did not believe his comrade would be so stupid as to proceed, and thought he was only goofing off.


2. A One Track Mind

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(16 July 2008, Italy)

            Gerhard, 68, was queued at a traffic light in his Porsche Cayenne sportscar. Before one reaches the light, there is a railroad crossing, and Gerhard had not let the queue progress forward far enough before he drove onto the tracks. As you might imagine, given Murphy's Law, a train was coming.

            The safety bars came down, leaving the Porsche trapped on the rails. According to witnesses, it took the driver awhile to realize he was stuck. Finally he jumped from the car and started to run--straight toward the oncoming train, waving his arms in an attempt to save his sportscar!

            The attempt was partly successful. The car received less damage than its owner, who landed 30 meters away. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

            The moral of the story? Momentum always wins.


and finially, without further adeiu . . .

1. The Balloon Priest (Padre Baloneiro)

2008 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(20 April 2008, Atlantic Ocean, Brazil)

            A Catholic priest recently ascended to heaven on a host of helium party balloons, paying homage to Lawn Chair Larry's aerial adventure. Larry, the beloved survivor of a Darwin-worthy fiasco, attached 45 helium weather balloons to his lawnchair, packed a picnic lunch, and cut the tether--but instead of drifting above the Los Angeles landscape as planned, he was rocketed into LAX air traffic lanes by the lift of the weather balloons. Astoundingly, Larry survived the flight.

            Adelir Antonio, 51, was not so lucky.

            His audacious attempt to set a world record for clustered balloon flight was intended to publicize his plan to build a spiritual rest stop for truckers. But, as truckers know, sitting for 19 hours in a lawn chair is not a trivial matter even in the comfort of your own backyard. The priest took numerous safety precautions, including wearing a survival suit, selecting a buoyant chair, and packing a satellite phone and a GPS. However, the late Adelir Antonio made a fatal mistake.

            He did not know how to use the GPS.

            The winds changed, as winds do, and he was blown inexorably toward open sea. He could have parachuted to safety while over land, but chose not to. When the voyager was perilously lost at sea, he prudently phoned for help--but rescuers were unable to determine his location, since he could not use his GPS. He struggled with the unit as the charge on the satellite phone dwindled.

            Instead of a GPS, the priest let God be his guide, and God guided him straight to heaven. Bits of balloons began appearing on mountains and beaches. Ultimately the priest's body surfaced, confirming that he, like Elvis, had left the building.

            The kicker? It's a Double Darwin. Catholic priests take vows of celibacy. Since they voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool, the entire group earns a mass Darwin Award. Adelir Antonio wins twice over!

Note from Darwin: "A hot air balloon is maneuvered by altering altitude. The wind direction changes, generally toward the right, as one ascends in the northern hemisphere. A skillful pilot uses altitude to shift the downwind track. By comparison, a mass of individual balloons is completely at the mercy of the wind. The balloons used by the priest were described as party balloons, which are far more fragile than the weather balloons used by Lawn Chair Larry."