The most extraordinarily stupid ways people killed themselves...

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You all know about the Darwin Awards - It's an annual honor given to the person who did the gene pool the biggest service by killing themselves in the most extraordinarily stupid way. Last year's winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine which toppled over on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out of it.

And this year's nominee is:

The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded into the side of a cliff rising above the road at the apex of a curve. The wreckage resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it was a car. The type of car was unidentifiable at the scene. The lab finally figured out what it was and what had happened. It seems that a guy had somehow gotten hold of a JATO unit ( Jet Assisted Take Off - actually a solid fuel rocket ) that is used to give heavy military transport planes an extra "push" for taking off from short airfields. He had driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. Then he attached the JATO unit to his car, jumped in, got up some speed and fired off the JATO!

The facts as best as could be determined are that the operator of the 1967 Impala hit JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3.0 miles from the crash site. This was established by the prominent scorched and melted asphalt at that location. The JATO, if operating properly, would have reached maximum thrust within 5 seconds, causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 mph and continuing at full power for an additional 20-25 seconds. The driver, soon to be pilot, most likely would have experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog-fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners, basically causing him to become insignificant for the remainder of the event. However, the automobile remained on the straight highway for about 2.5 miles (15-20 seconds) before the driver applied and completely melted the brakes, blowing the tires and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface, then becoming airborne for an additional 1.4 miles and impacting the cliff face at a height of 125 feet leaving a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock. Most of the driver's remains were not recoverable; however, small fragments of bone, teeth, and hair were extracted from the crater and fingernail and bone shards were removed from a piece of debris believed to be a portion of the steering wheel.

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1997 DARWIN AWARD NOMINEES

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 - 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: Hickory Daily Record - 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 ear.

NOMINEE 4: UPI, Toronto - Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death. A police spokesman said Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower early Friday evening as he was explaining the strength of the building's windows to visiting law students. Hoy previously had conducted demonstrations of window strength according to police reports. Peter Lawyers, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was 'one of the best and brightest' members of the 200-man association.

NOMINEE 5: Bloomberg News Service - A terrible diet and 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 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. According to the article, '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 6: The News of the weird - Michael Anderson Godwin made News of the Weird posthumously in 1989. He had spent several years awaiting South Carolina's electric chair on a murder conviction before having his sentence reduced to life in prison. attempting to fix his small TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted.

NOMINEE 7: The Indianapolis Star - Cigarette lighter may have triggered fatal explosion Dunkirk, Indiana. A Jay County man using a cigarette lighter to check the barrel of a muzzle loader 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 muzzle loader that had not been firing properly. He was using the lighter to look into the barrel when the gunpowder ignited.

NOMINEE 8: 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.

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The 1997 Darwin Award candidate

Darwin award candidate Michigan, USA.

A guy buys brand new Grand Cherokee for 30 some thousand dollars and has 400+ dollar monthly payments. He immediately gets ahold of his friend and they go do some male bonding. They go duck hunting and of course all the lakes are frozen. These 2 Atomic Brains go to the lake with the guns, the dog, the beer and of course the new vehicle. They drive out onto the lake ice and get ready. Now, they want to make some kind of a natural landing area for the ducks, something for the decoys to float on. Remember, it's all ice and in order to make a hole large enough to look like something a wandering duck wants to fly down and land on, it is going to take a little more effort than an ice hole drill.

Out of the back of the new Grand Cherokee comes a stick of dynamite with a short, 40 second fuse. Now these 2 Rocket Scientists do take into consideration that if they place the stick of dynamite on the ice at a location far from where they are standing (and the new Grand Cherokee), they take the risk of slipping on the ice when they run from the burning fuse and possibly going up in smoke with the resulting blast. So, they decide to light this 40 second fuse and throw the dynamite which is what they end up doing. Remember a couple of paragraphs back when I mentioned the vehicle, the beer, the guns AND THE DOG ???? Yes, the dog.. A highly trained Black Lab used for retrieving, especially things thrown by the owner. You guessed it, the dog takes off at a high rate of doggy speed on the ice and gets the stick of dynamite with the burning 40 second fuse about the time it hits the ice all to the woes of the 2 idiots yelling, stomping, waving arms and wondering what the hell to do now.

The dog, well it is happy and heads back from where it came from moments before, with the stick of dynamite, only to the mounting woes of the 2 bozo's now really waving their arms, yelling even louder and jumping to new heights than ever before. Now one of the guys decides to think, something that he has never done before this moment, grabs a shotgun and shoots the dog. The shotgun is loaded with #8 duck shot, hardly big enough to stop a Black Lab on its appointed rounds. Dog stops for a moment, slightly confused and continues on. Another shot and this time the dog, still standing, becomes really confused & of course scared, thinking these 2 Nobel Prize winners have gone insane and takes off to find cover, with the now really short, short fuse burning on this stick of dynamite.

The cover the dogs finds? Underneath the brand new Grand Cherokee 30 some thousand dollar 400+ monthly payment vehicle sitting on the lake ice. BOOM ! Dog dies, and it and the brand new Grand Cherokee 30 some thousand dollar 400+ monthly payment vehicle sink to the bottom of the lake leaving the 2 candidates for Co-leaders of the Known Universe standing there with this "I can't believe this happened" look on their faces. Later, the owner of the vehicle calls his insurance company which tells him that sinking a vehicle in a lake by illegal use of explosives is not covered. He had yet to make the first of those 400+ a month payments.

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We proudly present the 1999 "Natural Selection" awards:...

5th runner-up: Goes to a San Anselmo, California man who died when he hit a lift tower at the Mammoth Mountain ski area while riding down the slope on a foam pad. 22-year old David Hubal was pronounced dead at Central Mammoth Hospital. The accident occurred about 3 a.m., the Mono County Sheriff's Department said. Hubal and his friends apparently had hiked up a ski run called Stump Alley and undid some yellow foam protectors from lift towers, said Lt. Mike Donnelly of the Mammoth Lakes Police Department. The pads are used to protect skiers who might hit towers. The group apparently used the pads to slide down the ski slope and Hubal crashed into a tower. It has since been investigated and determined the tower he hit was the one with its pad removed.

4th Runner-up: Goes to Robert Puelo, 32, was apparently being disorderly in a St. Louis market. When the clerk threatened to call the police, Puelo grabbed a hot dog, shoved it into his mouth and walked out without paying. 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.

3rd Runner-up: Goes to poacher Marino Malerba of Spain, who shot a stag standing above him on an overhanging rock and was killed instantly when it fell on him.

2nd Runner-up: "Man loses face at party". A man at a West Virginia party (probably related to the man in Arkansas who used the 22 bullet to replace the fuse in his pickup truck) popped a blasting cap into his mouth and bit down, triggering an explosion that blew off his lips, teeth, and tongue. Jerry Stromyer, 24, of Kincaid, bit the blasting cap as a prank during the party late Tuesday night, said Cpl. M.D. Payne. "Another man had it in an aquarium hooked to a battery and was trying to explode it," said Payne. "It wouldn't go off and this guy said I'll show you how to set it off." "He put it into his mouth and bit down. It blew all his teeth out and his lips and tongue off," Payne said. Stromyer was listed in guarded condition Wednesday with extensive facial injuries, according to a spokesperson at Charleston Area Medical vision. "I just can't imagine anyone doing something like that" Payne said.

1st Runner-up: Doctors at Portland University Hospital said 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 (probably known now as Stupid Mountain Men Anonymous) in Grant's Pass, Oregon. A friend tried to shoot a beer can off his head, but the arrow entered Robert's right eye. Doctors said that had the arrow gone 1 millimeter to the left, a major blood vessel would have been cut and Roberts would have died instantly. Neurosurgeon Doctor Johnny Delashaw at the University Hospital in Portland said the arrow went through 8 to 10 inches of brain with the tip protruding at the rear of his skull, yet some how managed to miss all major blood vessels. Delashaw also said that had Roberts 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.

Now this year's winners: (The late) John Pernicky and his friend, (the late) Sal Hawkins, of the great state of Washington, decided to attend a local Metallica concert at the George Washington amphitheater. Having no tickets (but having had 18 beers between them), they thought it would be easy to "hop" over the nine foot fence and sneak into the show. They pulled their pickup truck over to the fence and the plan was for (the late) Mr. Pernicky, who was 100-pounds heavier than Mr. Hawkins) to hop the fence and then assist his friend over. Unfortunately for (the late) Mr. Pernicky, there was a 30-foot drop on the other side of the fence. Having heaved himself over, he found himself crashing through a tree. His fall was abruptly halted (and broken, along with his arm, as it were) by a large branch that snagged him by his shorts. Dangling from the tree with a broken arm, he looked down and saw some bushes below him. (Possibly) figuring the bushes would break his fall, he removed his pocket knife and proceeded to cut away his shorts to free himself from the tree. Finally free, (did I mention that he is THE LATE) Mr. Pernicky crashed into Holly bushes. The sharp leaves scratched his ENTIRE body and now, without the protection of his shorts, a holly branch penetrated his rectum. To make matters worse (?!), on landing, his pocketknife penetrated his thigh 3 inches. (The late) Mr. Hawkins, on seeing his friend in considerable pain and agony, decided to throw him a rope and pull him to safety (now he thinks of the "S" word) by tying the rope to the pickup truck and slowly driving away. However, in his drunken haste/state, he put the truck into reverse and crashed through the fence landing on his friend and killing him. Police arrived to find the crashed pickup with its driver thrown 100 feet from the truck and dead at the scene from massive internal injuries. Upon moving the truck, they found John under it, half-naked scratches on his body, a holly stick in his rectum, a knife in his thigh, and his shorts dangling from a tree branch 25-feet in the air.

Congratulations gentlemen, you win...

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