The 1998 Darwin Awards
For those not familiar with the Darwin Award - it's an annual honor given
to the person who provided the universal human gene pool the biggest service
by getting killed in the most extraordinarily stupid way. As always, competition
has been keen. Some candidates appear to have trained their whole lives for
DARWIN AWARD CANDIDATES
In September in Detroit, a 41-year-old man got stuck and drowned in two feet
of water after squeezing head first through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to
retrieve his car keys.
In October, a 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who "totally zoned when
he ran," according to his wife, accidentally jogged off a 200-foot-high cliff
on his daily run.
Buxton, NC: A man died on a beach when an 8-foot-deep hole he had dug into
the sand caved in as he sat inside it. Beachgoers said Daniel Jones, 21,
dug the hole for fun, or protection from the wind, and had been sitting in
a beach chair at the bottom Thursday afternoon when it collapsed, burying
him beneath 5 feet of sand. People on the beach, on the Outer Banks, used
their hands and shovels, trying to claw their way to Jones, a resident of
Woodbridge, VA, but could not reach him. It took rescue workers using heavy
equipment almost an hour to free him while about 200 people looked on. Jones
was pronounced dead at a hospital.
In February, Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed in Lompoc, CA, as he fell
face-first through the ceiling of a bicycle shop he was burglarizing. Death
was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his mouth (to keep his
hands free) rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.
According to police in Dahlonega, GA, ROTC cadet Nick Berrena, 20, was stabbed
to death in January by fellow cadet Jeffrey Hoffman, 23, who was trying to
prove that a knife could not penetrate the flak vest Berrena was wearing.
Sylvester Briddell, Jr , 26, was killed in February in Selbyville, DE, as
he won a bet with friends who said he would not put a revolver loaded with
four bullets into his mouth and pull the trigger.
In February, according to police in Windsor, Ontario, Daniel Kolta, 27, and
Randy Taylor, 33, died in a head-on collision, thus earning a tie in the
game of chicken they were playing with their snowmobiles.
In September, a 7-year-old boy fell off a 100-foot-high bluff near Ozark,
AK, after he lost his grip swinging on a cross that marked the spot where
another person had fallen to his death in 1990.
DARWIN AWARD HONORABLE MENTIONS
In Guthrie, OK , in October, Jason Heck tried to kill a millipede with a
shot from his .22-caliber rifle, but the bullet ricocheted off a rock near
the hole and hit pal Antonio Martinez in the head, fracturing his skull.
In Elyria, OH, in October, Martyn Eskins, attempting to clean out cobwebs
in his basement, declined to use a broom in favor of a propane torch and
caused a fire that burned the first and second floors of his house.
Paul Stiller, 47, was hospitalized in Andover Township, NJ, in September,
and his wife Bonnie was also injured, by a quarter-stick of dynamite that
blew up in their car. While driving around at 2:00 AM, the bored couple lit
the dynamite and tried to toss it out the window to see what would happen,
but they apparently failed to notice that the window was closed.
Taking "Amateur Night" Too Far: In Betulia, Colombia, an annual festival
in November includes five days of amateur bullfighting. This year, no bull
was killed, but dozens of matadors were injured, including one gored in the
head and one Bobbittized. Said one participant, "It's just one bull against
a thousand Morons."
AND THE WINNER:
PADERBORN, GERMANY - Overzealous zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his
constipated elephant Stefan 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel
of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let fly
- and suffocated the keeper under 200 pounds of poop. Investigators say ill-fated
Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive-oil enema
when the relieved beast unloaded on him like a dump truck full of mud. "The
sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt
to the ground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as
the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him," said flabbergasted
Paderborn police detective Erik Dern. "With no one there to help him, he
lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along,
and during that time he suffocated. It seems to be just one of those freak
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