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2006 Darwin Awards


lynn jones

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It's that time again... The Darwin Awards are finally out, the annual honor

given to the persons 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. This year's winner was a real

rocket scientist... really!

And the nominees were:

Semifinalist #1

A young Canadian man, searching for a way of getting drunk cheaply, because

he had no money with which to buy alcohol, mixed gasoline with milk. Not

surprisingly, this concoction made him ill, and he vomited into the

fireplace in his house. This resulting explosion and fire burned his house

down, killing both him and his sister.

Semifinalist #2

Three Brazilian men were flying in a light aircraft at low altitude when

another plane approached. It appears that they decided to moon the occupants

of the other plane, but lost control of their own aircraft and crashed. They

were all found dead in the wreckage with their pants around their ankles.

Semifinalist #3

A 22-year-old Reston, VA, man was found dead after he tried to use octopus

straps to bungee jump off a 70-foot rail road trestle. Fairfax County police

said Eric 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."

Semifinalist #4

A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. It seems that he and a friend

were playing a game of catch, using the rattlesnake as a ball.

The friend - no doubt a future Darwin Awards candidate - was hospitalized.

Semifinalist #5

Employees in a medium-sized warehouse in west Texas 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 sight of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and

retrieving an object that resembled a cigarette 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 suspected of causing the blast

had never been thought of as ''bright'' by his peers.

*Now ladies and gentleman, the winner of this year's Darwin Award:*

The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded in

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.

Police investigators finally pieced together the mystery. An amateur rocket

scientist... 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. He attached the JATO unit to the 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 the JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3.0 miles from

the crash site. This was established by the 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, and soon to be pilot, would have experienced G-forces usually

reserved for dog fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners, causing him to

become irrelevant 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.

Epilogue: It has been calculated that this moron attained a ground speed of

approximately 420-mph, though much of his voyage was not on the ground.* *

* *

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The JATO one has been around for over a decade, but still keeps coming up as "new" -

The Mythbusters wanted to try this, but were turned down when they called the airforce asking for a Jato.

http://www.snopes.com/autos/dream/jato.asp

Mythbusters did a rocket assist remote control car on an early episode. I think it was viewer's choice #3, ran last night. Not sure if the rocket pack was an actual JATO.

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Semifinalist #3

A 22-year-old Reston, VA, man was found dead after he tried to use octopus

straps to bungee jump off a 70-foot rail road trestle. Fairfax County police

said Eric 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."

This one is odd, because I remember when it happened back in 96 or 97. I grew up not far from the park and the office I worked in at the time was only 3 or 4 miles away. We used to go there for lunch and toss a frisbee around when the weather was cooperative.

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