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The 1998 Darwin Awards!

They have finally been released! For those not familiar with the Darwin Award - It's an annual honor given to the person who did the universal human gene pool the biggest service by getting killed in the most extraordinarily stupid way. As always, competition this year has been keen again. Some candidates appear to have trained their whole lives for this event.

The Darwin Awards Nominees

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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. Beach goers 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed in February in Selbyville, Del., 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.

7. In February, according to police in Windsor, Ont., 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.

8. Ineligible, but credit given for trying¨AUGUSTA, ME - Four people were injured in a string of bizarre accidents. Sherry Moeller was admitted with a head wound caused by flying masonry, Tim Vegas was diagnosed with a mild case of whiplash and contusions on his chest, arms and face, Bryan Corcoran suffered torn gum tissue, and Pamela Klesick's first two fingers of her right hand had been bitten off.

Moeller had just dropped her husband off for his first day of work and, in addition to a good-bye kiss, she flashed her breasts at him. "I'm still not sure why I did it," she said later. "I was really close to the car, so I didn't think anyone would see. Besides, it couldn't have been for more than two seconds." However, cab driver Vegas did see, and lost control of his cab, running over the curb and into the corner of the Johnson Medical Building.

Inside, Klesick, a dental technician, was cleaning Corcoran's teeth. The crash of the cab against the building made her jump, tearing Corcoran's gums with a cleaning pick. In shock, he bit down, severing two fingers from Klesick's hand. Moeller's wound was caused by a falling piece of the medical building.

9. Ineligible, better luck next year!¨ TAOS, NM - A woman went to a poison control center after eating three birth-control vaginal inserts. Her English was so bad she had to draw a picture describing how she believed she had poisoned herself. A translator arrived shortly thereafter and confirmed doctors' suspicions.

Marie Valishnokov thought the inserts were some kind of candy or gum, being unable to read the foil wrappers. After the third one, she realized something was wrong when her throat and mouth began to fill with a sour-tasting foam. She ran for the Poison Control Center, only a few blocks away where doctors were able to flush the foam from her mouth, throat, and stomach with no ill effects. Ineligible, but a strong contender for 99¨

10. TACOMA, WA - Kerry Bingham, had been drinking with several friends when one of them said they knew a person who had bungee-jumped from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the middle of traffic. The conversation grew more heated and a least 10 men trooped along the walkway of the bridge at 4:30 a.m. Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge they discovered that no one had brought bungee rope.

Bingham, who had continued drinking, volunteered and pointed out that a coil of cable had been left near the railing. Bingham's leg and the other end was tied to the bridge. His fall lasted 40 feet before the cable tightened and tore his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously survived his fall into the icy river water and was rescued by two nearby fishermen. "All I can say,"said Bingham, "is that God was watching out for me on that night. There's just no other explanation for it." Bingham's foot was never located.

11. On February 3, 1990, a Renton, Washington man tried to commit a robbery. This was probably his first attempt, as suggested by the fact that he had no previous record of violent crime, and by his terminally stupid choices as listed below:

  1. The target was H&J Leather & Firearms, a gun shop;
  2. The shop was full of customers, in a state where a substantial portion of the adult population is licensed to carry concealed handguns in public places;
  3. To enter the shop, he had to step around a marked Police patrol car parked at the front door;
  4. An officer in uniform was standing next to the counter, having coffee before reporting to duty. Upon seeing the officer, the would-be robber announced a holdup and fired a few wild shots. The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, removing him from the gene pool. Several other customers also drew their guns, but didn't fire. No one else was hurt.

12. In France, Jacques LeFevrier left nothing to chance when he decided to commit suicide. He stood at the top of a tall cliff and tied a noose around his neck. He tied the other end of the rope to a large rock. He drank some poison and set fire to his clothes. He even tried to shoot himself at the last moment. He jumped and fired the pistol. The bullet missed him completely and cut through the rope above him. Free of the threat of hanging, he plunged into the sea. The sudden dunking extinguished the flames and made him vomit the poison. He was dragged out of the water by a kind fisherman, and was taken to hospital, where he died - of hypothermia.

DARWIN AWARD HONORABLE MENTIONS

(1) In Guthrie, Okla., 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.

(2) In Elyria, Ohio, 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.

(3) 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 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.

(4) 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 town of¨ a thousand Morons."

AND THE WINNER IS

Japan Times -- April 16, 1997

"The government must crack down on this disgusting craze of 'Pumping'", a spokesman for the Nakhon Ratchasima hospital told reporters. "If this perversion catches on, it will destroy the cream of Thailand's manhood."

He was speaking after the remains of 13 year-old Charnchai Puanmuangpak had been rushed into the hospital's emergency room. "Most 'Pumpers' use a standard bicycle pump," he explained, "inserting the nozzle far up their rectum, giving themselves a rush of air, creating a momentary high. This act is a sin against God."

It appears that the young Charnchai took it further still. He started using a two-cylinder foot pump, but even that wasn't exciting enough for him, so he boasted to friends that he was going to try the compressed air hose at a nearby gasoline station.

They dared him to do it, so, under cover of darkness, he snuck in. Not realizing how powerful the machine was, he inserted the tube deep into his rectum, and placed a coin in the slot. As a result, he died virtually instantly, leaving passers-by still in shock. One woman thought she was watching a twilight fireworks display, and started clapping.

"We still haven't located all of him", say the police authorities. "When that quantity of air interacted with the gas in his system, he nearly exploded. It was like an atom bomb went off or something." "Pumping is the devil's pastime, and we must all say no to Satan," Ratchasima concluded. "Inflate your tires by all means, but then hide your bicycle pump where it cannot tempt you."

Let's hear it for Charnchai Puanmuangpak, the NEW 1998 undisputed Darwin Award recipient!

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