2010 Top Ten Darwin Awards

10. Carbidschieten

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(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 pressurized 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.


9. Tiny Elec Fence

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(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.

8. Teeming With Crocodiles

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(1 January 2010, South Africa) Pop quiz, class. Do you or don't you go swimming in the crocodile-infested Limpopo? Do, or don't, leave your friends on the banks of the great grey-green Olifants River (main tributary of the Limpopo) and swim in its limpid waters not once, not twice, but three times the day you are finally devoured by that old crocodile? 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.

7. Reckless Spending

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(1 October 2010, ARIZONA). The Grand Canyon, one of the seven wonders of the world, recently welcomed home the soul of one of the witless wonders of the world. The death of a 42-year-old California man named Andrew, who was leaping from outcropping to outcropping on the South Rim near Pipe Creek Vista, reminds me of an incident in March 2000 involving a "financial entrepreneur" visiting the famous National Park.

Because of the tiresome problem of tourists farting their way into disaster, the more treacherous overlooks in the Grand Canyon are protected by fences and signs. All of these overlooks are spectacular. Some have towering columns, some have small plateaus that tourists toss coins onto, like dry wishing wells.

Make a wish!

One entrepreneur wished for financial success. And there in front of him was a means to an end. He had a brilliant, an obvious, idea. No stranger to danger, the man climbed over the fence with a bag, leapt to one of the precarious, coin-covered perches, and filled the bag with booty. Harvest time!

But. When he tried to leap back to the safe side, he went head to head with physics. Specifically, our entrepreneur had increased his mass, and the force required to lift himself against the pull of gravity was now greater.

The heavy bag of coins arrested his jump, and the birds were treated to a view of his long plunge to the valley floor below, followed by a shower of coins. Brilliant idea with a fatal flaw in the execution.

Gravity. More than a good idea, it's The Law.

"Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas, Jumping Jack Cash..."

And THAT reminds me of a joke. A man was taking a picture of an attractive woman at the Grand Canyon. He was lined up to take the shot, when he suddenly found himself plummeting toward the ground at 30mph. What happened? The woman had said, "Yes, I'm a nude model."

(2000 incident is, sadly, unconfirmed so email Darwin with eyewitness or news.).

6. The Burdens Of Our Fathers

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Unconfirmed by Darwin

(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.

5. Glacier Erasure

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Unconfirmed by Darwin

Another account from the archives of a 30-year ER MD.

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, which we may not utter lest our mothers soap our mouths.

4. Textbook Double Double Darwin

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

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

That's the whole picture: A young couple, driving along Via Dutra, the largest freeway in Brazil with tons of heavy traffic, at 6AM under heavy fog. The couple decided that this was the time to park (for "dating" according to the charming Google translation) and, yes, they parked on the freeway in the right-hand lane, not on the shoulder, the median, or at a gas station. Naturally, given time a cargo truck encountered a "speed bump," instantly killing both -- during the act of procreation -- double-double Darwin Award! (2) people making (2) obviously bad decisions, and natural selection acts at the very moment the two are reproducing. Textbook!

3. Ride 'Em Cowgirl

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

Darwin says, "RIDE'EM COWGIRL -- is it a Darwin Award or just bad driving? Sure, we all love the rare Lady Darwin Winner, and you can reeead this one, but I'm not sure about it. The passenger, for instance, why should he get dinged for driving without a license? He was only steering the car out of a disaster course. For those who like to comment on stories, Ride'em Cowgirl needs comment."

A cautionary tale for those who can't spare the time to slow down and do things properly.

(14 August 2010, Kentucky) Kelita H. was travelling "at highway speed" in her Chevy, cruising down Country Road 519 with the wind blowing through her hair, when she and her passenger decided to swap seats. In this situation, a less hasty person would stop the car for a "Chinese fire drill" but Kelita was a little more creative than that. Fortunately, you see, her car had an open T-Top.

She stood up, pulled herself onto the roof, and she fell. And then Kelita was travelling solo "at highway speed" down that country road.

The Fayette County Coroner's Office reported that the 20-year-old died from injuries sustained while impacting a guardrail.

On the way down, her foot hit the steering wheel and the car veered left--but the passenger, who was still inside the vehicle, grabbed the wheel and averted his own possible demise, thereby demonstrating the wisdom of learning from the mistakes of others. That passenger, by the way, easily earns an Honorable Mention himself, as he was arrested and charged with driving on a suspended license with improper registration and no insurance.

There are several lessons to learn here.

2. Wheelchair Access

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(25 August 2010, Daejon, South Korea) A handicapped man, annoyed that an elevator closed and departed without him, thinks it over before ramming his wheelchair into the doors not once, not twice, but three times in all--only to plunge down the now-empty elevator shaft to his death. Simultaneous success and failure combine to earn the 40-year-old "Angry Wheelchair Man" lasting immortality as a Darwin Award winner.

The tragic downfall of this rashly rushing rammer provides a heartening example of how brilliant you are--compared to some! However, natural selection just got a little harder. The authorities traced the "problem" to elevator doors that cannot withstand a large impact. Safety regulations were strengthened after the elevator was installed, to prevent accidents "such as might happen to children and drunks."

1. Barrel Ride, With Flames!

2010 Darwin Award Nominee

Confirmed True by Darwin

(19 July 2010, Washington) Thanks to Skagit Raceway, the town of Sedro-Woolley (pop. 10,000) fills with racing folks. During the American Sprint Car Series, two crew members--smart people with a high degree of mechanical ability--were working at a custom machine shop when they dreamed up an unusual thrill ride. The men put a a 55-gallon barrel in the parking lot, poured in four gallons of methanol, sat on top of the barrel, and lit the bunghole!

("Lit what?" "Lit the bunghole!" > define:bunghole)

Apparently they thought the barrel would skid across the parking lot like a rocket, with a tail of flame shooting out, and two rodeo clowns sitting on top waving their caps and wooting! But instead of sliding across the pavement, well, let's just point out that four gallons of methanol in a 55-gallon drum greatly resembles a bomb.

The barrel blew up beneath them with enough force that the end of the barrel landed 120 feet away. The two inspired Sparks* landed in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where one man lost his life. The other survived with a sobering lesson on the power of internal combustion.

Working on a race car is a bit risky, but this was not a work-related shop accident. Rather, it was a dangerous and ill-conceived stunt by two bored men who were hoping to find some fun in a small town. Dear readers, please learn from the mistakes of others. You don't have time to make them all yourself!