1997 Darwin Awards
As you may already know, THE DARWIN AWARDS are bestowed every year
upon (the remains of) that individual(s), who through single-minded
self-sacrifice, has done the most to remove undesirable elements from
the human gene pool. Last year's winner was the fellow who was killed
when he attached a JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) unit to his Chevy
Impala and promptly shot himself at 300 mph into the side of a desert
1994's winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine which
toppled on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out of
It is once again time to vote for the Darwin Award nominees for 1997 -
you know these nominees will not be contributing to the gene pool,
The 1997 nominees are:
NOMINEE #1 [San Jose Mercury News]
An unidentified man, using a shotgun like a club to break a former
girlfriend's windshield, accidentally shot himself to death when the
gun discharged, blowing a hole in his gut.
NOMINEE #2 [Kalamazoo Gazette, 4-1-95]
James Burns, 34, of Alamo, Mich., was killed in March as he was trying
to repair what police described as a "farm-type truck." Burns got a
friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath so
that he could ascertain the source of a troubling noise. Burns'
clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns
"wrapped in the drive shaft."
NOMINEE #3 [Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario]
A man cleaning a bird feeder on his balcony of his condominium
apartment in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his
death, police said Monday. Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheeled
chair Sunday when the accident occurred, said Inspector D'Arcy Honer
of the Peel regional police. "It appears the chair moved and he went
over the balcony, "Honer said. "It's one of those freak accidents. No
foul play is suspected."
NOMINEE #4 [Hickory Daily Record 12/21/92]
Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in
December in Newton, N.C., when, awakening to the sound of a ringing
telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead
a Smith & Wesson 38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his
NOMINEE #6 [AP, Cairo, Egypt, 31 Aug 1995 CAIRO, Egypt (AP)]
Six people drowned Monday while trying to rescue a chicken that had
fallen into a well in southern Egypt. An 18-year-old farmer was the
first to descend into the 60-foot well. He drowned, apparently after
an undercurrent in the water pulled him down, police said. His sister
and two brothers, none of whom could swim well, went in one by one to
help him, but also drowned. Two elderly farmers then came to help, but
they apparently were pulled by the same undercurrent. The bodies of
the six were later pulled out of the well in the village of Nazlat
Imara, 240 miles south of Cairo. The chicken was also pulled out. It
NOMINEE #7 [Bloomburg News Service, 25 March]
A terrible diet and a room with no ventilation are being blamed for
the death of a man who was killed by his own gas. There was no mark on
his body but autopsy showed large amounts of methane gas in his
system. His diet had consisted primarily of beans and cabbage (and a
couple of other things). It was just the right combination of foods.
It appears that the man died in his sleep from breathing from the
poisonous cloud that was hanging over his bed. Had he been outside or
had his windows been opened, it wouldn't have been fatal. But the man
was shut up in his near airtight bedroom. He was ". . .a big man with
a huge capacity for creating [this deadly gas]." Three of the
rescuers got sick and one was hospitalized.
NOMINEE #9 [18 May 93, San Jose Mercury News]
A 24-year-old salesman from Hialeah, Fla., was killed near Lantana,
Fla., in March when his car smashed into a pole in the median strip of
Interstate 95 in the middle of the afternoon. Police said that the man
was traveling at 80 MPH and, judging by the sales manual that was
found open and clutched to his chest, had been busy reading.
NOMINEE #11 ["The Indianapolis Star", Wed., Dec. 4, 1996].
A Jay County man using a cigarette lighter to check the barrel of a
muzzleloader was killed Monday night when the weapon discharged in his
face, sheriff's investigators said. Gregory David Pryor, 19, died in
his parents' rural Dunkirk home about 11:30 p.m. Investigators said
Pryor was cleaning a .54-caliber muzzleloader that had not been firing
properly. He was using the lighter to look into the barrel when the
NOMINEE #13 [Reuters, Warsaw, Poland, 5 May 1995]
A poacher electrocuting fish in a lake in central Poland fell into the
water and suffered the same fate as his quarry, police said Thursday.
The 24-year-old man was one of four who went fishing with a cable, one
end of which they attached to a net and the other to a high-voltage
electricity supply line, the PAPnews agency quoted a police official
in Wloclawek as saying. "For a while everything went according to the
poachers' plan and they had fish in their bags. But at a certain
moment the man holding the net tripped and fell into the water," the
agency said. The other poachers tried in vain to revive him, it said.
NOMINEE #14 [AP, St. Louis]
Robert Puelo, 32, was apparently being disorderly in a St. Louis
market. When the clerk threatened to call police, Puelo grabbed a hot
dog, shoved it in his mouth, and walked out without paying for it.
Police found him unconscious in front of the store: paramedics removed
the six-inch wiener from his throat, where it had choked him to death.
NOMINEE #15 [Unknown]
The poacher Marino Malerba, who shot a stag standing above him on an
overhanging rock-and was killed instantly when it fell on him.
NOMINEE #16 [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1-1-93]
In December near Mineral Wells, Tex., three men who were attempting to
steal copper wire off live electrical lines for resale were
electrocuted. Copper wiring is a valuable scrap metal in Texas but is
usually stolen from electric cables that are not being used.
Here are some people that may be future nominees/winners, but still
haven't made it to the "Big Leagues" (ie, still in the gene pool)
[UPI, Portland, OR]
Doctors at Portland's University Hospital said Wednesday an Oregon man
shot through the skull by a hunting arrow is lucky to be alive, and
will be released soon from the hospital. Tony Roberts, 25, lost his
right eye last weekend during an initiation into a men's rafting club
Mountain Men Anonymous, in Grants Pass, Ore. A friend tried to shoot a
beer can off his head, but the arrow entered Roberts' right eye.
Doctors said had the arrow gone 1 millimeter to the left, a major
blood vessel would have cut and Roberts would have died. University
Hospital in Portland said the arrow went through 8 to 10 inches of
brain, with the tip protruding at the rear of his skill, yet somehow
managed to miss all major blood vessels. Neurosurgeon Delashaw also
said had Robert tried to pull the arrow out on his own he surely would
have killed himself. Roberts admitted afterwards he and his friends
had been drinking that afternoon. Said Roberts, "I feel so dumb about
this." No charges have been filed but the Josephine County district
attorney's office said the initiation stunt is under investigation.
[Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 25, 1996: Two Local Men Injured in
Freak Truck Accident, Cotton Patch, Ark.]
Two local men were seriously injured when their pickup truck left the
road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch on State Highway 38 early
Monday morning. Woodruff County deputy Dovey Snyder reported the
accident shortly after midnight Monday. Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc
and Billy Ray Wallis, 38, of Little Rock are listed in serious
condition at Baptist Medical Center. The accident occurred as the two
men were returning to Des Arc after a frog gigging trip. On an
overcast Sunday night, Poole's pick-up truck headlights malfunctioned.
The two men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older model truck
had burned out. As a replacement fuse was not available, Wallis
noticed that the .22 caliber bullet from his pistol fit perfectly
into the fusebox next to the steering wheel column. Upon inserting the
bullet, the headlights again began to operate properly and the two men
proceeded on east-bound toward the White River bridge.
After traveling approximately twenty miles and just before crossing
the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged and struck
Poole in the right testicle. The vehicle swerved sharply to the right
exiting the pavement and striking a tree. Poole suffered only minor
cuts and abrasions from the accident, but will require surgery to
repair the other wound. Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was
treated and released. "Thank God we weren't on that bridge when
Thurston shot his nuts off or we mightboth be dead" stated Wallis.