More Darwin Awards


Robert, 37, shot himself while explaining gun safety to his wife in Glendale, California, when he placed a .45-caliber pistol he thought was unloaded under his chin and pulled the trigger. Dovetails's wife told police that the incident occurred after her complaints about her husband's 70 guns prompted him to demonstrate their safety.

A 23-year-old bar-brawler who had been escorted out of the Dolphin Club in Florida by a bouncer, sneaked back in and leaped off a staircase, aiming a kick at another man, but was killed when he landed on his head.

Iraqi terrorist Khay Rahnajet, didn't put enough postage on a letter bomb, and it came back marked "return to sender." He opened the package and was blown away.

Two animal rights activists were protesting the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn by freeing a captive herd. Suddenly all two thousand of pigs stampeded through the gate they were opening, and trampled the hapless protesters to death.

News of the Weird reports that in September 1996 a man was crushed to death on a stairway at the Sammis Real Estate and Insurance office in Huntington, N.Y., while he was stealing the office's 600-pound safe. He apparently violated that cardinal rule of hauling massive objects: Never stand on a step lower than the one the safe is on. The safe was empty at the time of the incident.

In San Jose, California, Herman, an avid hunter, used the butt of his shotgun to bash his girlfriend's windshield during an argument. But his loaded gun accidentally discharged into his stomach, killing him and ending the argument.

Matthew and his friends were sliding down a Mammoth Mountain ski run on a foam pad at 3am, when he crashed into a lift tower and died. His makeshift sledge of yellow foam had been stolen from the legs of a lift tower on Stump Alley. The cushion is meant to protect skiers who hit the tower, and the tower Matthew ran into was the one from which he had created his sledge.

December 1997, Pennsylvania A prisoner in the new Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh attempted to evade his punishment by engineering an escape from his confinement. Jerome constructed a hundred-foot rope of bedsheets, broke through a supposedly shatter-proof cell window, and began to climb to freedom down his makeshift ladder. It is not known whether his plan took into account the curiosity of drivers on the busy street and Liberty Bridge below. It certainly did not take into account the sharp edges of the glass, the worn nature of the bedsheet, or the great distance to the pavement. The bottom of the knotted bedsheet was eighty-six feet short of the ground. But our hero did not reach the end of his rope. The windowpane sliced through the weak cloth and dropped him to his untidy demise 150 feet below.

But wait, there's more!
Apparently the jailhouse rumor of the previous death did not reach a prisoner who was awaiting transfer to a federal penitentiary one year later. He tied eight bedsheets together and rappelled from his seventh-floor window, only to find that the rope fell twenty-five feet short of the ground. Luckier than Jerome, he merely fractured his ankle and scraped his face.

Randy Nestor, 28, was a considerate car thief. When the stolen cars became hot, he didn't just abandon them, he torched them. Setting the cars on fire, he reasoned, helped the owners collect insurance on their vehicles. This criminal habit became his downfall. After a 10-year career of theft, Randy burned to death in Pittsburgh, PA in a van which he had set fire to from the inside. He hadn't realized that the door handle on the driver's side was broken. Friends tried to release him, but the door was locked. His burned body was found inside the van on Sunday.

Wednesday was a fateful day for Michael. He was shooting the breeze with a group of buddies, watching a friend clean his fish tank, when the friend complained that one specimen in particular had become a fishy menace. It had outgrown the tank, and was eating other denizens of the aquatic community. Michael volunteered to assist. He seized the five-inch fish and attempted to swallow it. Unfortunately, the fish continued its predatory ways by sticking in his craw. As he gasped futilely for breath, turned blue, and sank to his knees, his three friends realized that something was amiss. They phoned 911 and informed the dispatcher that Michael had eaten some fish, and was having trouble breathing. Paramedics were quickly dispatched, and they arrived to find the fish tail still protruding from the victim's mouth. Despite their best efforts neither the fish nor the twenty-three-year-old could be resuscitated. The killer fish had claimed one last victim.

One fateful day in April, a private pilot landed his Piper PA-32-300 at the New Bedford airport. To secure his aircraft against thieves, he inserted a gust lock into the co-pilot's control column, and padlocked it in place. This procedure is fairly common, except that the gust lock is usually placed on the pilot's control column. That way it's hard to forget it when you prepare to depart. Many gust locks have a big red plate that hangs down to cover the ignition and master switch. We will never know why our soon to be dead friend chose to put the gust lock on the co-pilot's side.
The pilot went off to have some drinks and returned to his plane at 10:30 PM. He hopped into the aircraft with 155 mg/dL of alcohol in his blood, and departed without remembering to check that the flight controls were unobstructed. A witness to the accident reported that he departed the runway at a very steep angle, consistent with having a gust lock installed. About this time, our erstwhile friend realized that he forgot to remove the gust lock, and that his plane will soon stall. The real problem is that the key for the padlock is on the same keyring as the key for the ignition. So he had two choices: try to remove the padlock key from the keyring while keeping the plane running, which will take more time than he has, or turn off the engine, which will accelerate the stall, then rush to remove the gust lock and restart the engine. He chose option B.
But he didn't make it in time. The airplane, its course fixed by the gust lock, "went straight up in the air like an acrobat" then appeared to level off, turn northwest, then northeast, followed by "a nose dive" and a rapid descent to the ground.
When the National Transportation Safety Board investigator arrived at the scene he discovered the padlock and gust lock still installed and the keyring with both keys still on it on the floor of the cockpit.

A man drowned in Fox Lake after he and a friend inadvertently blasted a hole in the bottom of their rowboat with a quarter stick of dynamite. Daniel, twenty-nine, and his unidentified friend were relaxing on the lake on Sunday in a fourteen-foot aluminum boat, when they decided to toss the M-250 explosive into the water. They intended to kill fish with the blast, not themselves, said chief deputy coroner Jim Wipper. A sudden gust of wind pushed their boat over the firecracker, and the boat sank about a hundred yards from shore. Daniel drowned; the friend swam safely to land.

A man with the unlikely ambition to jump off every river bridge in Norwich ended his athletic career with a 70-foot leap into three feet of water. Friends said the 34-year-old man had fulfilled his dream of jumping off every city bridge spanning the River Wensum. Having exhausted the bridge selection, this time he climbed to the top of a multi-story car park, looked down from the parapets and shouted an enquiry to onlookers asking how deep the water was. Then he plunged to his death in the shallow waters below. Emergency workers were unable to resuscitate the man, who was said to possess "a strange and unusual passion for jumping into rivers."

If you fly over Houston, you will see the sky blue rectangles of countless backyard swimming pools. A Houston man joined the club, and purchased his own above ground pool on June 21, 1998. He selected the location, and the pool was installed by an independent contractor a few days later. He rated all aspects of the installation as "excellent." A few weeks later, the pool owner was swimming with his friends and enjoying an alcoholic Fourth of July haze in the humid Houston heat. In an unprecedented show of bravado, the man decided to climb onto his patio roof and dive into his pool. The man was six feet tall. His pool, typical for an above ground pool, was four feet deep. So when his head hit the bottom, his legs were still sticking two feet out of the water. The dive broke his neck. He and his family sued on the grounds of faulty installation and inappropriate location. The same installation the man had rated as "excellent" in the location he himself had selected.
The lawsuit was changed to a wrongful death claim when the pool owner passed away in December. Next time you fly over Houston and see those miles of swimming pools, remember the story of this man's last miscalculated dive.

There are safe methods of lighting fireworks. There are dangerous methods of lighting fireworks. Two residents of villages in East Java were killed when they chose the latter method of ignition. Firecrackers are illegal in Indonesia. However, they can be purchased from the black market during celebrations such as Eid Al-Fitr, the feast which marks the end of Ramadan. And boys will be boys, the world over.
In January, Isomudin, a 28-year-old resident of Kenongo, and Matkijo, a 20-year-old from Telasih, obtained a large quantity of firecrackers and connected their detonation fuses to a motorcycle battery. The two perpetrators proceeded to start the engine. The resulting explosion could be heard from a distance of two kilometres. Onlookers attempted to rescue Isomudin and Matkijo, but their burns were too severe. Both men died at the scene. Eight onlookers were treated at a local hospital for their injuries.

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