1997 Darwin Award Winner!!! (long)
1997 Darwin Award Winner!!! (long)
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 17:19:17 -0500
Subject: 1997 Darwin Award Winner!!!
For those who don't know, this award is an annual honor given to the
person who did the gene pool the biggest service by killing themselves
in the most extraordinarily stupid way; thus, eliminating his/her
genetic material from the gene pool.
For those of you who do know about the award, you may recall last year's
Darwin Award winner: the man who found out moments before making a 300
MPH dent in an Arizona cliff that the JATO (Jet Assist Take-Off) unit
he'd strapped to his car was not equipped with an off switch. 1995's
winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine which fell on top
of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out of it.
And now, I am pleased to present 1997's illustrious winners of the
Darwin Award, John Pernicky and Sal Hawkins. Yes, for the first time,
it was a tie!
John Pernicky and friend Sal Hawkins, of the great state of Washington,
decided to attend a local Metallica concert at the Amphitheater at
George, Washington. Having no tickets (but 18 beers among them) they sat
in the parking lot, and after finishing the beer, decided that it would
be easy enough to hop over the nine-foot high fence and sneak into
The two friends pulled their pickup truck over to the fence and the plan
was for John -- 100 pounds heavier than Sal - to hop over, and then
assist his friend over the fence. Unfortunately for John, 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 by a large branch which snagged him by his shorts.
Dangling from the tree, with one arm broken, John looked down and saw
a group of bushes below him. Figuring the bushes would break his fall,
John removed his pocket knife and proceeded to cut away his shorts to
free himself from the tree. When finally free, John crashed below
into Holly bushes. The sharp leaves scratched his entire body and now
being without his shorts, he was the unwilling victim of a holly
branch penetrating his rectal cavity.
To make matters worse, his pocket knife proceeded to fall with him
and landed three inches into his left thigh. Seeing his friend
in considerable pain and agony, Sal decided to throw him a rope and pull
him to safety.
However, weighing about 100 pounds less, he decided the best course
of action would be to tie the rope to the pickup truck. This is when
things went from bad to worse.
In his drunken state, Sal put the truck into the wrong gear, pressed on
the gas, and crashed through the fence, landing on, and killing, his
friend. Sal was thrown from the truck, suffered massive internal
injuries, and also died at the scene.
Police arrived to find a pickup truck with its driver thrown 100 feet
from the vehicle and, upon moving the truck, a half naked man with
numerous scratches, a holly stick up his rectum, a knife in his thigh, and
a pair of shorts dangling from the tree branches 25 feet in the air.
Congratulations John and Sal!!!
And now, the runners-up:
Runner-Up #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.
Runner-Up #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."
Runner-Up #3 - Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario:
A man cleaning a bird feeder on his balcony of his condominium apartment
in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his death, police
said Monday. Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheeled chair Sunday
when the accident occurred, said Inspector D'Arcy Honer of the Peel
regional police. "It appears the chair moved and he went over the
balcony," Honer said. "It's one of those freak accidents. No foul play
Runner-Up #4 - 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.
Runner-Up #5 - UPI, Toronto:
Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a
downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder
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 Lauwers,
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.
Runners-Up #6 - AP, Cairo, Egypt:
Six people drowned Monday while trying to rescue a chicken that had
fallen into a well in southern Egypt. An 18-year-old farmer was the
first to descend into the 60-foot well. He drowned, apparently after an
undercurrent in the water pulled him down, police said. His sister and
two brothers, none of whom could swim well, went in one-by-one to help
him, but also drowned. Two elderly farmers then came to help, but they
apparently were pulled by the same undercurrent. The bodies of the six
were later pulled out of the well in the village of Nazlat Imara, 240
miles south of Cairo. The chicken was also pulled out. It survived.
Runner-Up #7 - Bloomburg 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 from 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. He was "...a big man with a huge capacity
for creating [this deadly gas]." Three of the rescuers got sick and one
Runner-Up #9 - San Jose Mercury News:
A 24-year-old salesman from Hialeah, Fla., was killed near Lantana, Fla.,
in March when his car smashed into a pole in the median strip of
Interstate 95 in the middle of the afternoon. Police said that the man
was traveling at 80 MPH and, judging by the sales manual that was found
open and clutched to his chest, had been busy reading.
Runner-Up #10 - 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.
In March 1989, sitting on a metal toilet in his cell and attempting to
fix his small TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted. On
Jan 1, 1997, Laurence Baker, also a convicted murderer once on death
row, but later serving a life sentence at the state prison in Pittsburgh,
Pa., was electrocuted by his homemade earphones as he watched his small
TV while sitting on his metal toilet.
Runner-Up #11 - The Indianapolis Star:
In 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 muzzleloader that had
not been firing properly. He was using the lighter to look into the
barrel when the gunpowder ignited.
Runner-Up #12 - AP, Mammoth Lakes:
A San Anselmo man died yesterday when he hit a lift tower at the
Mammoth Mountain ski area while riding down the slope on a foam
pad, authorities said. Matthew David Hubal, 22, was pronounced dead
at Centinela 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 the lift towers, said Lieutenant Mike Donnelly of
the Mammoth Lakes Police Department. The pads are used to protect
skiers who might hit the towers. The group apparently used the pads
to slide down the ski slope and Hubal crashed into a tower. [Editor's
note: After this initial story was printed, it was determined
by investigators that the tower he hit was the one from which HE had
removed the pad.]
Runner-Up #13 - Reuters, Warsaw, Poland:
A poacher electrocuting fish in a lake in central Poland fell into the
water and suffered the same fate as his quarry, police said Thursday.
The 24-year-old man was one of four who went fishing with a cable, one
end of which they attached to a net and the other to a
high-voltage electricity supply line, the PAP news agency quoted a
police official in Wloclawek as saying. "For a while everything
went according to the poachers' plan and they had fish in their bags.
But at a certain moment the man holding the net tripped and fell into
the water," the agency said. The other poachers tried in vain to revive
him, it said.
Runner-Up #14 - AP, St. Louis, MO:
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.
Runner-Up #15 - Unknown:
Poacher Marino Malerba shot a stag standing above him on an aging rock.
Mario was killed instantly when the stag fell off the rock and landed on
Runner-Up #16 - Associated Press, Kincaid, W. VA:
Blasting Cap Explodes in Man's Mouth at Party. A man at a party popped
a blasting cap into his mouth and bit down, triggering an explosion
that blew off his lips, teeth and tongue, state police said Wednesday.
Jerry Stromyer, 24, of Kincaid, bit the blasting cap as a prank during
a 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," Payne
said. "It wouldn't go off and this guy said, 'I'll show you how to set
it off.' I just can't imagine anyone doing something like that," Payne
AND FINALLY, Runner-Up #17 - Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
In December near Mineral Wells, Tex., three men who were attempting
to steal copper wire off live electrical lines for resale were
electrocuted. Copper wiring is a valuable scrap metal in Texas but is
usually stolen from electric cables that are not being used.
Here are some people that may be future nominees/winners, but still
haven't made it to the "Big Leagues."
UPI, Portland, OR:
[Mountain Men Initiations are Eye-Opening Experience.]
Doctors at Portland's University Hospital said Wednesday 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, in Grants Pass, Ore. A friend tried to shoot a beer can off
his head, but the arrow entered Roberts' right eye. Doctors said, had
the arrow gone 1 millimeter to the left, a major blood vessel would have
cut and Roberts would have died instantly. Neurosurgeon Dr. 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 skill, yet somehow managed to miss all major blood vessels.
Delashaw also said had Robert 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
The Calgary Sun Saturday, Vancouver (CP):
[Low Blow for Gunman.]
A man arguing over a love triangle accidentally shot himself in the
groin, taking off his testicles and part of his penis. Police said the
man was waving a .357 Magnum revolver around during the shouting match
early yesterday. But when he stuffed it back in his pants the gun went
off. Police were called to the hospital after the man in his 20s
was brought in by friends. Charges are pending against the victim, who
is expected to survive.
Arkansas Democrat Gazette:
[Two Local Men Injured in Freak Truck Accident; Cotton Patch, Ark.]
Two local men were seriously injured when their pick-up truck left the
road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch on State Highway 38 early
Monday morning. Woodruff County deputy Dovey Snyder reported the
accident shortly after midnight Monday. Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc
and Billy Ray Wallis, 38, of Little Rock are listed in serious condition
at Baptist Medical Center. The accident occurred as the two men
were returning to Des Arc after a frog gigging trip. On an overcast
Sunday night, Poole's pick-up truck headlights malfunctioned. The two
men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older model truck had
burned out. As a replacement fuse was not available, Wallis noticed
that the...22 caliber bullet from his pistol fit perfectly into the fuse
box next to the steering wheel column. Upon inserting the bullet,
the headlights again began to operate properly and the two men proceeded
on, east-bound toward the White River bridge. After traveling
approximately twenty miles and just before crossing the river, the
bullet apparently overheated, discharged, and struck Poole in the
right testicle. The vehicle swerved sharply to the right exiting
the pavement and striking
a tree. Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions from the accident,
but will require surgery to repair the other wound. Wallis sustained
a broken clavicle and was treated and released. "Thank God we weren't
on that bridge when Thurston shot his nuts off or we might both be
dead," stated Wallis. "I've been a trooper for ten years in this part
of the world, but this is a first for me. I can't believe that those
two would admit how this accident happened", said Deputy Snyder. Upon
being notified of the wreck, Lavinia, Poole's wife, asked how many
frogs the boys had caught and did anyone get them from the truck.
This last one is the original 1997 Darwin Award winner; however, he had
to be disqualified since he didn't meet the criteria (i.e. he's still in
the gene pool, albeit the VERY shallow end).
Los Angeles Times:
[I Can See Clearly Now....]
Larry Waters of Los Angeles had a boyhood dream - to fly. When he
graduated from high school, he joined the Air Force in hopes of becoming
a pilot. Unfortunately, poor eyesight disqualified him. When he
was finally discharged, he had to satisfy himself with watching jets
fly over his backyard. One day, Larry, had a bright idea. He decided
to fly. He went to the local Army-Navy surplus store and
purchased 45 weather balloons and several tanks of helium. The
weather balloons, when fully inflated, would measure more than four
feet across. Back home, Larry securely strapped the balloons to his
sturdy lawn chair. He anchored the chair to the bumper of his jeep
and inflated the balloons with the helium. He climbed on for a test
while it was still only a few feet above the ground. Satisfied it
would work, Larry packed several sandwiches and a six-pack of Miller
Lite, loaded his pellet gun-figuring he could pop a few balloons when it
was time to descend-and went back to the floating lawn chair. He
tied himself in, along with his pellet gun and provisions. Larry's plan
was to lazily float up to a height of about 30 feet above his back
yard after severing the anchor, and in a few hours come back down.
Things didn't quite work out that way. When he cut the cord anchoring
the lawn chair to his jeep, he didn't float lazily up to 30 or so
feet. Instead he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon.
He didn't level off at 30 feet, nor did he level off at 100 feet.
After climbing and climbing, he leveled off at 11,000 feet! At that
height he couldn't risk shooting any of the balloons, lest he unbalance
the load and really find himself in trouble. So he stayed there,
drifting, cold and frightened, for more than 14 hours. Then he really
got into trouble. He found himself drifting into the primary
approach corridor of Los Angeles International Airport. A United
pilot first spotted Larry. He radioed the tower and described passing a
guy in a lawn chair with a gun! Radar confirmed the existence of an
object floating 11,000 feet above the airport. LAX emergency
procedures swung into full alert, and a helicopter was dispatched
to investigate. LAX is right on the ocean. Night was falling and
the offshore breeze began to flow. It carried Larry out to sea with
the helicopter in hot pursuit. Several miles out, the helicopter caught
up with Larry. Once the crew determined that Larry was not dangerous,
they attempted to close in for a rescue but the draft from the blades
would push Larry away whenever they neared. Finally, the
helicopter ascended to a position several hundred feet above Larry
and lowered a rescue line. Larry snagged the line and was hauled back
to shore. The difficult maneuver was flawlessly executed by the
Finally, a story about a woman who would lose a battle-of-wits with
AP, Arkansas:[Pillsbury Dough Boy Wanted for Attempted Murder]
A woman named Linda went to Arkansas last week to visit her in-laws, and
while there, went to a store. She parked next to a car with a woman
sitting in it, her eyes closed and hands behind her head,
When Linda came out a while later, she again saw the woman, her hands
still behind her head but with her eyes open. The woman looked very
strange, so Linda tapped on the window and said "Are you okay?"
The woman answered "I've been shot in the head, and I am holding my
brains in." Linda didn't know what to do; so she ran into the store
where store officials called the paramedics. They had to break into the
car because the door was locked.
When they got in, they found that the woman had bread dough on the back
of her head and in her hands. A Pillsbury biscuit canister had
exploded, apparently from the heat in the car, making a loud explosion
like that of a gunshot, and hit her in the head. When she reached back
to find what it was, she felt the dough and thought it was her brains.
She passed out from fright at first, then attempted to hold her brains in!