2014 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 removing themselves from it.
# 10. Race To The Death
(9 August 2014, New York) For most people the danger of a high speed road is common-sense obvious, and few people will attempt to cross a major highway such as an interstate regardless of what is on the other side. On racetracks the danger is even more obvious: when cars inside a compact oval are moving faster than freeway speeds, common sense shouts in your ear, "Do not walk!" ...And then there is Kevin Ward.
Kevin Ward is a Sprint Car racing driver. Sprint Car racing is one of the most popular forms of racing in the United States. The cars have a very high power-to-weight ratio making speeds in excess of 140 miles per hour possible on some tracks. A Sprint Car race typically takes place on a dirt track in a machine designed to drift around corners, and the traction of the racetrack surface is much less than the traction of an asphalt surface.
Sprint Car drivers are shielded in specially-designed race vehicles that are meant to take a beating so that the occupant can survive. A driver is protected by roll cages, fuel tank bladders to prevent fuel leakage, a six or seven-point safety harness, as well as a mandatory driver suit, full coverage helmet, and Nomex gloves. The importance of staying inside the vehicle until track personnel arrive to protect the crash site is essential knowledge drummed into every race car driver.
...And then there is Kevin Ward.
You don't have to be Captain Obvious to notice that race cars move rapidly, and collisions and spin-outs happen frequently. In Sprint Car races the vehicles drift through corners, meaning those vehicles are moving at the very limit of their traction. It was in this environment that Kevin's vehicle was bumped by another driver, causing it to spin around and knock into the wall.With the damage taken, Kevin's vehicle was out of the race. For most people being knocked out of the race is a time of reflection, and a time of considering what to say at the end of the race when you discuss the collision with the driver who knocked you out.
...And then there is Kevin Ward.
In a rage that defied common sense, he decided to confront the driver who bumped him right there, right then, in the middle of an active track. Not only did he exit his vehicle without consideration for the slippery dirt track, not only did he put out of his mind corner drifting, but also he failed to consider the black color of his uniform and helmet and their near-invisibility on a dimly lit racetrack at night. These are all factors that would instill the fear of death in many drivers after an accident.
...But then there is Kevin Ward.
Even during a yellow flag the race cars move quickly, and Sprint Cars cannot turn or stop on a dime as the track is made of dirt. After climbing out of his vehicle and walking onto the middle of the track, Kevin spotted his target and made many gestures as the driver was coming around the bend. However the offending driver did not see the figure in the dark jumpsuit. His car was behind another race car in single file during the caution lap. The car in front of him dodged Kevin in the nick of time. The next car, the car that knocked Kevin out of the race, attempted to dodge the shadowy figure but it was at that point that Kevin's luck ran out.
In an attempt to swerve, the car slid sideways and the back of the vehicle impacted against Kevin and knocked him flat. He was down and out, a tragic end to the last race of Kevin's life.
Moral of the story? Stay off a busy road. Especially a dirt racetrack. And most especially when you're a Sprint Car professional who knows better.
Kevin A. Ward Jr. - b. 23 May 23 1994, d. 9 August 2014
# 9. Delhi Sandwich
(23 September 2014, India) Life of Pi move over, Maqsood has a tale to tell. This 19-year-old factory worker joined a White tiger for lunch yesterday in the cat's Delhi zoo home. After being cautioned twice to not climb over the fence enclosing the tiger enclosure, Maqsood climbed over the fence a third time and then swam across the moat over to Tiger Island.
Never pet a kitty that isn't yours. The White tiger "went tiger" on the intruder and mauled him to death, subsequently dragging the body around the island for two hours until the animal was finally scared into a cave and the body was retrieved.
Parents of the tiger's visitor said the boy was mentally ill and addicted to bhang, a preparation of cannabis leaves and seeds that is smoked, chewed, eaten, or infused and drunk to obtain mild euphoria. Yet many normal young men are emotionally troubled and enjoy cannabis--and would be shocked and embarrassed were their parents to refer to them as mentally ill addicts.
In some countries such as the United States of America the animal would have been destroyed to satisfy angry citizens; however, in India the killer tiger was characterized as acting in line with its nature and the animal will suffer no punishment for the day's excitement.
# 8. Anchorman
(25 May 2014, Georgia) 18-year-old Chance Werner had recently graduated from high school and early on Sunday morning he was at Lake Allatoona celebrating with friends by playing the Shopping Cart Game. Lake Allatoona is a large reservoir created by damming the Etowah River in 1949. The shoreline is lined with vacation rentals and campgrounds, as well as two yacht clubs and a sailing club.
The Shopping Cart Game is evidently popular. News reports state that the cart is usually anchored to a pole or tree at the dock. The cart is poised on the dock, someone climbs in, and friends launch the shopping cart off the dock and into the water. Ha! The soggy rider climbs out of the water, the cart is reeled back in, and the game begins again.
In the wee hours of between Saturday night and Sunday morning--the timing hints at an evening spent partying at the lake--Chance inexplicably decided to be the tree and tie the cart to his belt. Chance took a chance that did not stand a chance! He was dragged into the water and drowned. Several hours later his body was recovered from nine meters of water, still tied to the shopping cart.
Although Chance was a young man who had only just graduated from high school, the editors voted to give him a Darwin Award because--as his family says--the tragedy contains an important message they wish to share about thinking before you act. "We have all done stupid things. Not one person thought that this was not a good game to play." People of Earth! This is not a good game to play. Leave that shopping cart at the mall, lest you find yourself in the hereafter swapping stories with Chance.
# 7. Selfie With Elephant
(24 April 2014, Kenya) Double Darwin Award: Two men in Kenya were capturing selfies with a wild elephant when they were trampled to death by the irate pachyderm who proceeded to bury the corpses with brush. The two men were actually touching the elephant's face while taking the photos. Charles Darwin cautions, "When taking sensational selfies, remember the Photoshop option." The men, Leornad Tonui and Michael Shikuku,
# 6. Crispy Copper Fries
(19 May 2014, Arizona) The mummified remains of a man discovered in a Tucson manhole tell their own poignant story. In May the manhole was opened to investigate a fluctuation in electrical power. According to records kept by Tucson Electric Power the manhole had not been opened in the past five years, so the team that entered the underground high-voltage vault was quite surprised to find the dessicated remains of a man slumped near cut copper wires. In his shriveled hand was -- can you guess? -- a bolt cutter.
Crime pays so little, and costs so much. This nominee not only failed and fried but also, nobody noticed, making his death both stupid and sad. An autopsy confirmed the obvious conclusion that electrocution was the likely cause of death. The date of death was set at somewhere between one and two years previous to the discovery.
The mummy was carrying ID for a 51-year-old man, and DNA testing is underway to verify the identity of the crispy copper critter.
# 5. Man Customizes Car Ignition Sequence To His Peril
(18 February 2014, United Kingdom) Scott McKimmie's purple Volkswagen Cabriolet would not be considered roadworthy by most people, but to a handy mechanic a flaw can be considered a security feature. Early on Tuesday morning outside The Phoenix pub in Corby, the 39-year-old started the 1998 Cabriolet in his usual unusual way -- he put the car in gear and reached beneath the hood (the 'bonnet') and touched two wires together to create an ignition spark.
Unfortunately Scott failed to remember that he had not set the handbrake. To make matters worse he had modified the purple VW to run with a fast idle to prevent stalling. As black wire touched red wire the engine turned over and started, and the car lurched forward and knocked him over. Due to the fast idle the vehicle continued on its merry way, inflicting 36 "separate injuries" on the unfortunate man as -- like the Duracell/Energizer bunny -- it kept going and going.
As demonstrated in a police investigation video shown to the court, the engine modifications allowed the car to move forward without stalling when it was in first, second or third gear! Coroner Anne Pember recorded a verdict of accidental death with this summary: "It is quite clear that the cause of this tragedy was the unusual starting method Mr. McKimmie used to start his car."
# 4. Resurrection FAIL
(17 September 2014, Pakistan) Two correspondents nominated the gullible acolyte who volunteered to be killed and resurrected by a holy man--and not a holy man who was experienced with the procedure, but a beginner who thought he'd give it a whirl!
For five years a popular Sufi had been performing miracles for villagers in Mubarakabad. Now he was ready to increase the stakes to a full resurrection. But he was not interested reviving any old corpse--the novice naturally preferred to breathe life back into fresh meat. So the Sufi put Word out to his followers that he wanted to kill and revive a faithful man--a faithful married man--a married man with children! The Sufi seemed to be stacking the deck to resurrect a person with a strong incentive to return, a person with no desire to malinger in death. And in the grip of an overwhelmingly obvious Darwin Moment, 40-year-old Muhammad Niaz stepped up and volunteered to be murdered the very next day.
Lest anyone claim that Muhammad was mentally ill, which would disqualify him from a Darwin Award, please remember that resurrection by saints is an idea that is popular in Christianity as well. Bible verse Matthew 10:8 says that Jesus commanded his acolytes, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons," and Catholic saints have been recorded as performing the miracle of raising the dead.
On Tuesday the idea was announced, on Wednesday the follower was killed, and on Thursday the overly optimistic Sufi was behind bars for murder. Generally no Darwin Awards are given for murder, but in this case the acolyte volunteered for the scheme and earned his just reward.
# 3. Natural Birth Control - Double Darwin Award (twofer!)
(10 June 2014, London, England) Humans who aspire to high levels of desire may join the "mile-high club" yet our dreams of sex in high places also have couples eyeing more accessible heights such as rooftops and romantic balconies. Balcony balls are a common sight for neighbors across from Knights Tower, an apartment high-rise on the bank of the Thames river in South London. The city lights sparkling on the surface of the waters are irresistible to lovers, and neighbors have seen people on the balcony doing all sorts of things.
On a warm Tuesday night in the summertime, a hot couple was observed kissing and frolicking as they engaged in sex on a sixth-floor balcony. Some neighbors closed their drapes while others enjoyed the entertainment, each according to his inclination. It was the usual reality programming for the neighborhood.
A party was going on inside the flat. When people came out onto the balcony the couple would stop their game, only to resume playing the moment they were alone on the balcony. "The last thing I expected was to see them falling down five floors," said one observer, but "the guy was lifting the girl and putting her on the bannister, he kept on doing it, they were going back and forth," and suddenly the amorous hotties were balls up and over the railing.
Natural birth control -- the couple did not survive the fall.
# 2. The Thing Ring
(May 2014, England) "Being part of emergency services, firemen are called upon to get people out of unlikely situations. We were summoned to the A&E Department of a central London hospital to assist in removing a "thing ring." With our ring cutters at the ready, we were presented with the patient, his 'meat and two veg' extremely swollen and such a dark purple that they were almost blackened. The whole sorry mess was encircled by a thick titanium ring. Normally the procedure to remove a thing ring is a five-minute affair, but our cutters could not make a mark on the titanium! After expending a number of cutter blades we had to concede defeat.
"The man in question had put himself into this situation three days prior to committing himself to A&E, delaying the hospital visit due to embarrassment and a vain hope that it would resolve itself in time. Unfortunately this error in judgement cost him dearly. The wonderful doctors can often drain blood and remove the ring the way it went on--yet by the time he sought help, and our tools had been defeated, his jewels was past saving. Full castration--the result of the man's own actions and decisions--make this eunuch a self-selected nominee for a living Darwin Award.
And finally, the Winner is:
# 1. Sports Training - Double Darwin Award!
(2 March 2014, Netherlands) Two intoxicated men dared each other to test their courage against an intercity train at a Rotterdam train station. At 1800 hours on a Sunday evening, the station was crowded with more than 300 fans returning from a soccer-match pitting Feyenoord against Ajax at De Kuip, the most beautiful soccer stadium in Holland.
The two men stepped off the platform and strode forth onto the tracks. One superdaredevil lay down between the tracks, intending to prove that the entire train would pass over him. What a story to tell! His friend was less confident and he merely knelt down next to the track and kept his head as close as possible to where he thought the train's profile would be. Turns out that the 130 km/h train that came down the track some seconds later was both lower and wider than they thought. They were killed instantly.
The 300+ onlookers on the platform were none too pleased by the spectacle, and train traffic was interrupted for several hours while authorities cleaned up the mess.