The Darwin Awards are given to those individuals who help mankind by removing themselves from the gene pool. Or you can look at it as "God's product recalls"

Gravity kills
Launched on the Fourth of July...
Don't ask God to prove himself, he just might...
They say those things will kill you...
Gimme a light!
Crazy glue really holds!
Most bizzare suicide
Projectile of the month


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 coming 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 and miles. They were launched, no doubt, countless thousands of feet into the air and were found dead 250 yards from their respective seats.



A lawyer [ ! ] and two of his buddies were fishing on Caddo Lake in Texas. A lightning storm hit the lake and most of the fisherman immediately headed for the shore. But not our friend the lawyer. He was alone on the rear of his aluminum bass boat and his buddies were in the front. This gentleman stood up, spread his arms wide (crucifixion style) and shouted: "HERE I AM LORD, LET ME HAVE IT!" Needless to say, God delivered [well, you would, wouldn't you?]. The other two passengers
on the boat survived and are said to have immediately joined the Ministry.



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 here. The friend (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 his 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.



Several years ago, in a west Texas town, employees in a medium-sized warehouse noticed the smell of a gas leak. 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.



Vermont native, Rolin Thippes, 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, Thippes went over board to show them one of America's many marvels. He demonstrated the effectiveness of "Crazy Glue" ... the hard way. Apparently, Thippes wanted to demonstrate just how good the 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 Thippes, it began to panic and ran around the petting area wildly making Thippes 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 Thippes 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 was stomped to death. As for Thippes, it took a team of medics and zoo caretakers over four hours to remove his hands from the rhino's buttocks. First, the animal had to be captured and calmed down. However, during this process the laxatives began to take hold and Thippes 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. I guess you could say that Thippes 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. Thippes. 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.



At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Science, AAFS president Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story:

On 23 March 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide (he left a note indicating his despondency). As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor Opus was aware that a safety net had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect some window washers and that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide anyway because of this. Ordinarily, Dr. Mills continued, a person who sets out to commit suicide ultimately succeeds even though the mechanism might not be what he intended. That Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not have changed his mode of death from suicide to homicide. But the fact that his suicidal intent would not have been successful caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.

The room on the ninth floor from where the shotgun blast came was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing and he was threatening her with the shotgun. He was so upset that, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife and pellets went through the window striking Opus. When one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. When confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife both insisted that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. The old man said it was his long standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her - therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to be an accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal incident. It happened that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing how his father would use the shotgun to threaten his mother, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

There was an exquisite twist. Further investigation revealed that the son, one Ronald Opus, had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to arrange his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten- story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through a ninth story window.

The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide...



Top honors for "Human Projectile of the Month" go to an as-of-yet unidentified dude who, I am told, is also a serious contender for the annual Darwin Award. That prestigious prize is given posthumously to the person who does the human gene pool the greatest service by removing himself from it in the most extraordinarily stupid fashion. Troopers from the Arizona Highway Patrol got onto this gallant if not brainless form of ballistic research after motorists reported some mysterious scorched and blackened scars on a stretch of deserted highway. The more officers found, the stranger the case got. Here is what they kinda "pieced" together. JATO units are basically huge canisters of solid rocket fuel used to achieve "Jet Assisted Take Off", typically lifting big transport airplanes into the air from short, rough ground runways, or shooting overloaded planes from the decks of aircraft carriers.

They were not, repeat NOT, designed to augment the inherent boost factor of a 1967 Chevy Impala. But it is guessed that -- let's call him Zippy ---- didn't know that when he hooked one up to his ride. Ol' Zip apparently chose his runway carefully, selecting a nice long, lonely piece of straight as a string highway in good repair. Not guessing he might need a bit more than five miles of zoom surface, Zippy's test track had, that far down the track, a gentle rise on a sloping turn. Anyways, the Zipster kicked the tire, lit the fire, and ran his Chev up to top cruising speed. And then hit the ignition! Investigators know exactly where this happened, judging from the extended patch of burned and melted asphalt. The pocket calculator boys figure Zip reached maximum thrust within five seconds, punching that Chevy up to "well in excess of 350 miles per hour" and continued at "full burn" for another 20 to 25 seconds. Early in that little sprint, at roughly 2.5 miles down the road, the Human Hydro Shock stood on the brakes, melting them completely, blowing the tires and rapidly reducing all four skins to liquefied trails on the pavement.

Remember that little rise on the turn? That's where Zippy concluded his land speed record attempt and went for airborne honors, ultimately reaching an altitude of 125 feet and still climbing when his flight was abruptly terminated. We'll never know how far or how high the Zipster might have gone. A cliff face of solid rock kind of got in his way, posing a serious reaffirmation of the law of physics vis-a-vis two chunks of matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Zip gave it hell though, blasting a six foot crater in the Terra-verry-firma. The best modern forensic science could do was ID the car's make and model year. As for Da' big 'Z', only trace evidence of bone, teeth, and hair were found in the crater. If there isn't room in the Guinness Book of World Records for this one, there should at least be an honorable mention.

Smile and have a good day knowing that when you make a mistake or a boo-boo, you can rest assured that you will have to do a lot better to top this one.

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Last updated March 25, 1999.
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