The 1997 Darwin Awards

THE DARWIN AWARDS are bestowed every year upon the remains of that
individual, who through single-minded self-sacrifice, has done the most
to remove undesirable elements from the human gene pool.  Last year's
winner was the fellow who was killed when he attached a JATO (Jet  Assisted
Take Off) unit to his Chevy Impala and promptly shot himself at 300 mph
into the side of a desert cliff.

And now, for this year's illustrious winner(s):

John Pernicky and friend Sal Hawkins, of the great state of Washington,
decided to attend a local Metallica concert at the Amphitheater at
Gorge, Washington. Having no tickets (but 18 beers among them) they sat in
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 show.

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
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.

And now, the runners-up:

[AP, Mammoth Lakes, CA] A San Anselmo man died yesterday when he hit a
lift tower at the Mammoth Mountain ski area while riding down the slope on
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

The group apparently used the pads to slide down the ski slope and Hubal
crashed into a tower. It has since been disclosed that the tower he hit
was the one with its pad removed.

[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.


[Associated Press, Kincaid, W. VA] 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."  "He put it in his mouth and bit down. It blew
all his teeth off, his tongue and his lips," Payne said. Stromyer was
in guarded condition Wednesday with extensive facial injuries, according to
a spokesman at Charleston Area Medical Division. "I just can't imagine
anyone doing something like that," Payne said.

[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
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 skull, yet somehow managed to miss all major blood vessels. Delashaw
also said 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
No charges have been filed but the Josephine County district  attorney's
office said the initiation stunt is under investigation.