The 1996 Darwin Awards

It is once again time to vote for the Darwin Award nominees for 1996.
As you know these nominees will not be contributing to the gene pool

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 assisted take off) unit he'd strapped to his car could not be
turned off once it was turned on.

And 1994's winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine
which toppled on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda
out of it.

The 1996 nominees are:

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, 4-1-95]

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 [Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario]

Man slips, falls 23 stories to his death.  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 is suspected."

NOMINEE #4 [Hickory Daily Record 12/21/92]

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 #5 [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 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
NOMINEE #6 [AP, Cairo, Egypt, 31 Aug 1995 CAIRO, Egypt (AP)]

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.

NOMINEE #7 [Bloomburg News Service, 25 March]

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 was
NOMINEE #8 [Bloomburg News Service]

{Although, no one human died, no one can verify what happened to
"Raggot". Thus the committee (Me!) would like to make this story a

"In retrospect, lighting the match was my big mistake.  But I was only
trying to retrieve the gerbil," Eric Tomaszewski told bemused doctors
in the Severe Burns Unit of Salt Lake City Hospital.

Eric, and his homosexual partner Andrew "Kiki" Fernum, had been admitted
for emergency treatment after a felching session had gone seriously
wrong. "I pushed a cardboard tube up his rectum and slipped Raggot, our
gerbil, in," he explained. "As usual, Kiki shouted out "Armageddon", my
cue that he had enough. I tried to retrieve Raggot but he wouldn't come
out again, so I peered in to the tube and struck a match, thinking the
light might attract him." At a hushed press conference, a hospital
spokesman described what happened next. "The match ignited a pocket of
intestinal gas and a flame shot up the tube, igniting Mr. Tomaszewski's
hair and severely burning his face.  It also set fire to the gerbil's
fur and whiskers, which in turn ignited a larger pocket of gas further
up the intestines, propelling the rodent out like a cannonball."
NOMINEE #9 [18 May 93, 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.
NOMINEE #10 [1/29/96 The News of the weird.] JOINT NOMINEE

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.
NOMINEE #11["The Indianapolis Star", Wed., Dec. 4, 1996].

Cigarette lighter may have triggered fatal explosion Dunkirk, Indiana.
A Jay County man using a cigarette lighter to check the barrel of a
muzzleloader 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.
NOMINEE #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. It was not clear if the tower he hit was one
with its pad removed.

"With the cold temperatures, the snow was probably pretty fast," said
NOMINEE #13 [Reuters, Warsaw, Poland, 5 May 1995]

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.
NOMINEE #14 [AP, 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.
NOMINEE 15 [Unknown]

To poacher Marino Malerba, who shot a stag standing above him on an
overhanging rock -- and was killed instantly when it fell on him.
NOMINEE 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 said.
AND FINALLY, NOMINEE #17 [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1-1-93]

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]

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

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 under investigation.
--he feels so dumb?????  not the word that comes to my mind....
Low blow for gunman
VANCOUVER (CP) - A man arguing over a love triangle accidently 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.