1999 Darwin Award Winners

Yes, it is the Finalists of the 1999 Darwin Awards. For those sheltered few of you who are not fully aware of the Darwin Awards; these awards are given annually (and posthumously) to those individuals who did the most for the human gene pool by removing themselves from it.


A 22-year-old Reston man was found dead yesterday after he tried to use 'occy' straps (the stretchy little ropes with hooks on each end) to bungee jump off a 70-foot railroad trestle, police said. Fairfax County police said Eric A. Barcia, a fast-food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together, wrapped an end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake Accotink Park, jumped... and hit the pavement. Warren Carmichael, a police spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found nearby. "The length of the cord that he had assembled was greater than the distance between the trestle and the ground," Carmichael said. Police say the apparent cause of death was "major trauma."

An autopsy is scheduled for later in the week.


Three young men in Oklahoma were enjoying the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and wanted to apparently test fire some fireworks. Their only real problem was that their launch pad and seating arrangements were atop a several hundred thousand gallon fuel distillation storage tank. Oddly enough, some fumes were ignited, producing a fireball seen for miles. They were launched several hundred feet into the air and were found dead 250 yards from their respective seats.


A lawyer and two buddies were fishing on Caddo Lake in Texas when a lightning storm hit the lake. Most of the other boats immediately headed for the shore, but not our friend the lawyer. On the rear of his aluminum bass boat with his buddies, this individual stood up, spread his arms wide crucifixion style) and shouted: "HERE I AM LORD, LET ME HAVE IT!"

Needless to say, God delivered. The other two passengers on the boat survived the lightning strike with minor burns.


A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. Big deal you may say, but there's a twist here that makes him a candidate. It seems he and a friend were playing catch with a rattlesnake. You can guess what happened from there. The friend (who has demonstrated a high potential as a future Darwin Awards candidate) was hospitalized


Not much was given to me on this unlucky fellow, but he qualifies nonetheless. You see, there was a gentleman from Korea who was killed by is cell phone... more or less. He was doing the usual "walking and talking" when he walked into a tree and managed to somehow break his neck. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to drive and dial at the same time.


In a west Texas town, employees in a medium-sized warehouse noticed the smell of gas. Sensibly, management evacuated the building, extinguishing all potential sources of ignition-lights, power, etc. After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked. Witnesses later described the vision of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and retrieving an object that resembled a lighter. Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away. Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician that was suspected of causing the explosion had never been thought of as "bright" by his peers.



Although he didn't kick the bucket (hence runner-up), the following story receives an Honorable Mention. A Vermont native, Ronald Demuth, found himself in a difficult position yesterday. While touring the Eagle's Rock African Safari (Zoo) with a group of thespians from St. Petersburg, Russia, Mr. Demuth went overboard to show them one of America's many marvels. He demonstrated the effectiveness of "Crazy Glue" the hard way.

Apparently, Mr. Demuth wanted to demonstrate just how good adhesive was, so he put about 3 ounces of the adhesive in the palms of his hands, and jokingly placed them on the buttocks of a passing rhino. The rhino, a resident of the zoo for the past thirteen years, was not initially startled as it has been part of the petting exhibit since its arrival as a baby. However, once it became aware of its being involuntarily stuck to Mr. Demuth, it began to panic and ran around he petting area wildly making Mr. Demuth an unintended passenger.

"Sally [the rhino] hasn't been feeling well lately. She had been very constipated. We had just given her a laxative and some depressants to relax her bowels, when Mr. Demuth played his juvenile prank," said James Douglass, caretaker. During Sally's tirade two fences were destroyed, a shed wall was gored, and a number of small animals escaped. Also, during the stampede, three pygmy goats and one duck were stomped to death. As for Demuth, it took a team of medics and zoo caretakers to remove his hands from her buttocks.

First, the animal had to be captured and calmed down. However, during this process the laxatives began to take hold and Mr. Demuth was repeatedly showered with over 30 gallons of rhino diarrhea. "It was tricky. We had to calm her down, while at the same time shield our faces from being pelted with rhino dung.

Guess you could say that Mr. Demuth was into it up to his neck. Once she was under control, we had three people with shovels working to keep an air passage open for Mr. Demuth. We were able to tranquilize her and apply a solvent to remove his hands from her rear," said Douglass. "I don't think he'll be playing with Crazy Glue for a while." Meanwhile, the Russians, while obviously amused, also were impressed with the power of the adhesive. "I'm going to buy some for my children, but of course they can't take it to the zoo," commented Vladimir Zolnikov, leader of the troupe.


Even though the cleaning lady in this story didn't die (another runner-up since she doesn't qualify), she greatly aided several in hastening their trip to see the Almighty ...

"For several months, our nurses have been baffled to find a patient dead in the same bed every Friday morning" a spokeswoman for the Pelonomi Hospital (Free State, South Africa) told reporters. "There was no apparent cause for any of the deaths, and extensive checks on the air conditioning system, and a search for possible bacterial infection, failed to reveal any clues.

"However, further inquiries have now revealed the cause of these deaths. It seems that every Friday morning a cleaning lady would enter the ward, remove the plug that powered the patient's life support system, plug her floor polisher into the vacant socket, then go about her business. When she had finished her chores, she would plug the life support machine back in and leave, unaware that the patient was now dead. She could not, after all, hear the death rattle and eventual the solid beep over the whirring of her polisher.

"We are sorry, and have sent a strong letter to the cleaner in question. Further, the Free State Health and Welfare Department is arranging for an electrician to fit an extra socket, so there should be no repetition of this incident. The inquiry is now closed." (Cape Times).

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