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

gunpowder ignited.


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.