Normally I don’t like to dwell on death but it’s that time of year to dish out awards to the lucky few who have extinguished themselves by the most silliest means. Started in 1985, The Darwin Awards have sought to praise the people who “ensure the long-term survival of the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion”. Naturally all the awards are posthumous.
Last year saw it’s fair share of stupidity, and the 2009 Darwin Awards committee have sifted through the nominees and picked a winner (or loser). I have picked a couple of my favourites – find them after the jump.
2009 Darwin Award Nominee
(31 July 2009, South Carolina) Two disguised men entered a Sprint store on Sparkleberry Lane, pulled out guns, and stole wallets, purses, and credit cards from employees before ordering them into a bathroom. Both men fled, but they could not flee from their own stupidity. 23-year-old James T. had disguised himself by painting his face gold.
Yes, in order to conceal his identity during the robbery, James had covered his skin with spray paint. If this isn’t a Darwin Award, what is? Paints are clearly labelled, do not get on skin, do not get in eyes, do not inhale. Paint fumes are well-known to be toxic, and the metallic colors are particularly noxious. James began having trouble breathing (surprise!) and died wheezing shortly after the robbery took place.
To add insult to injury, the disguise was ineffective. Witnesses were certain as to the identity of their assailant. Had he lived, James, like his surviving accomplice, would have been charged with armed robbery.
Missed (But Not Missed By) The Bus
2009 Darwin Award Nominee
(13 August 2009, Quebec, Canada) A 24-year-old woman was ironically successful in her attempt to catch a bus in Quebec City. Clutching a can of pop, the woman ran into a restricted area and tried to flag down 45-foot bus that had left on time–without her. As she tried her best to get herself noticed, she herself failed to notice that the bus was making a swift turn in her direction.
A veteran driver said that drivers cannot hear anything over the sound of their engines. The woman was disappeared beneath the wheels of the turning bus, and it was obvious to a former nurse who rushed to her aid that she was no longer able to concern herself with getting there on time.
Considering that you have to do something really stupid to get squished by a bus in a transit center–such as sneaking into a restricted area and running under the tires–the bus company does not plan to increase security. A spokesperson said the woman should never have been in the parking lot.
Instead of riding home in a crowded bus, the deceased woman enjoyed the luxury of a free, one-way trip “home” in a private hearse.
2009 Darwin Award Nominee (and my personal favourite)
(12 October 2009, Florida) The Slush Pile mods say age fifteen is too young to win, but this case might be an exception. A Palm Bay couple and their 15-year-old son were putting up a ham radio antenna one evening. Bafflingly, not one of them thought to survey their surroundings. Unaware of the presence of an unseen menace overhead, the trio raised the aerial pole in the dark, struck a power line, and Zap! Three Darwin Award winners.
“It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that led to the most tragic result,” said the Palm Bay Fire Marshal. “It happened in an instant.” However, it can hardly be called an accident. All three were voluntary particpants and old enough to know better.
Readers beware, power lines lurk overhead waiting for the unwary. Our thanks to 55-year-old Melville, 49-year-old Anna and 15-year-old Anthony for reminding us not to stick a pole in the power grid. Just say no to premature cremation.
2009 Darwin Award WINNER
(26 September 2009, Belgium) The city of Dinant is the backdrop for this rare Double Darwin Award. Two bankrobbers attempting to make a sizeable withdrawal from an ATM died when they overestimated the quantity of dynamite needed for the explosion. The blast demolished the building the bank was housed in. Nobody else was in the building at the time of the attack.
Robber One was rushed to the hospital with severe head trauma; he died shortly after arrival. Investigators initially assumed that his accomplice had managed a getway, but the second bungler’s body was excavated from the debris twelve hours later. Would-be Robbers One and Two weren’t exactly impoverished–their getaway car was a BMW.
To see the full list of the 2009 nominees, head to The Darwin Awards.