2008 Darwin Award Nominee
The Balloon Priest
(20 April 2008, Atlantic Ocean, Brazil) In 1982 Lawn Chair Larry, beloved survivor of a Darwin-worthy attempt, attached 45 helium weather balloons to his comfortable Sears lawn chair, packed a picnic and a , and cut the tether. But instead of drifting lazily above the Los Angeles landscape, the combined lift of 45
huge helium balloons rocketed Larry into LAX air traffic lanes 16,000 feet above sea level. Astoundingly, he survived the "flight."
In homage to Larry's aerial adventure, a Catholic priest recently ascended towards heaven on a host of helium party balloons. Adelir Antonio de Carli, 41, was attempting to set the world record for clustered balloon flight to publicize his plan to build a spiritual rest stop for truckers.
Sitting for more than 19 hours in a lawn chair is not a trivial matter, even in the comfort of your own backyard. The priest took numerous safety precautions, including wearing a survival suit, selecting a buoyant chair, and packing a satellite phone and a GPS. However, the late Adelir Antonio made a fatal mistake.
He did not know how to use the GPS.
The winds changed, as winds do, and he was blown inexorably toward open sea.
He could have parachuted to safety while over land, but chose not to. When the voyager was perilously lost at sea, he prudently phoned for help. But rescuers were unable to reach him since he could not use his GPS! HE struggled with the control panel as the charge on the satellite phone dwindled.
Instead of a GPS, the priest let God be his guide, and God guided him straight to heaven. Bits of balloons began appearing on mountains and beaches. Ultimately the priest's body surfaced, confirming that he, like Elvis, had left the building.
The kicker? It's a Double Darwin. Catholic priests take vows of celibacy. Since they voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool, the entire group earns a mass Darwin Award. Adelir Antonio wins twice over!
Thou Shalt Not Steel
(8 March 2008, Czech Republic) Steel is valuable, especially the high grade alloy used in steel cable. Scrap metal dealers do not ask questions. They pay in cash. And a good supply of cables can be found in elevator shafts.
This particular goldmine was a towering shaft inside an empty grainery near Zatec, 40 miles northwest of Prague. The cable was tightly fastened, and the
far end of it disappeared into the shadowy distance above.
After substantial wear and tear on a hacksaw, our man finally cut through the strong steel cable. At that instant, the counterbalance, no longer held in check, started to move silently downwards, accelerating until it reached the bottom of the shaft.
Result: one proud winner of a "terminal velocity" Darwin Award.
Not a Shred of Sense
The ambulance responded to a frantic call concerning a neighbor's trip through an industrial tree shredder. It seems the individual had decided to prune his own trees, rather than hire a professional. Why not? After all, the local shop rented shredders that could make quick work of yard debris, including tree limbs
up to 8 inches in diameter.
To save time (those fateful words) the neighbor had placed the shredder at the base of a great oak tree, where he could drop branches directly into the hopper. He intended to cut off the top third of the oak, since it had been killed by lightning.
With the shredder running wide open, the neighbor climbed his ladder to the first tree branch, stepped off the ladder, slipped, and fell. The paramedics found him very dead, half in and half out of the shredder's hopper, one leg shredded to the hip.
Not married, no kids, removed self from the gene pool.
Chemistry Went To Her Head
(2 February 2008, Bulgaria) It was a cold but sunny February afternoon. Lidia, a biology teacher from Sofia, was driving two friends home from a memorial service. Suddenly the vehicle stopped. Bystanders saw all three occupants dash from the car to a nearby manhole, and start pouring down liquids and powders from
various bottles and jars.
Apparently, the biology teacher had been performing chemistry experiments in her free time, and had some leftover noxious chemicals. It is still not entirely clear what the chemicals were, but two of the bottles were labeled diethyl ether and methanol, both highly flammable substances. The former is also used as a
sedative, so one explanation for their actions is that they felt dizzy from the ether vapors and thought it was a good idea to pour them in the sewer.
As it turns out, a good idea it definitely was not. The cocktail of flammable substances in the enclosed space of the sewer caused an explosion so powerful that it launched the manhole cover into the air, decapitating the (briefly) surprised Lidia. Left without a head on her shoulders, she decided it was time to kick
The other two people were not left unharmed, but were alive. They were taken to the hospital with burns on their faces. They may not regain their eyesight, but hopefully will be able to speak clearly enough to tell their children that tossing random chemicals down the drain is not as wise as it might at first appear.
(2 February 2008, New York) A 50-year-old man was bird hunting in Upstate New York with his buddies and his faithful canine companion. They stopped for a smoke, and his dog found a deer leg bone!
The man tried to take the bone away, but like any right thinking dog, the animal would not relinquish its treasure. He stayed just out of reach. Frustrated with this blatant show of disobedience, the man grabbed his loaded shotgun by the muzzle and began wielding it like a club. Each time he swung it, the dog dodged.
Suddenly the "club" struck the ground and fired, shooting the man in the abdomen. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he died from his injuries. He did remain conscious long enough to confirm this account to police; otherwise, his poor friends might now be under suspicion!
Run! No, Run Away!
(July 16, 2008, Italy) Ivece Plattner, 68, was queued at a traffic light in his Porsche Cayenne sports car. Before one reaches the light, there is a railroad crossing. As you might imagine, given Murphy's law, a train was coming.
The man did not let the queue progress forward far enough before he crossed the railroad. The safety bars came down, leaving the Porsche trapped on the rails. It took the driver awhile to realize he was stuck, according to witnesses. Finally, he jumped from the car and started to run -- toward the oncoming train,
waving his arms in an attempt to save his car!
The attempt was successful. The car received less damage than its owner. He was pushed hard enough to land 30 meters away, and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
(January 2008, Pennsylvania) A 23-year-old man with various body piercings wondered what it would feel like to connect his workplace test equipment to his chest piercings. Several co-workers tried to convince him that it was a bad idea to wire himself up to the electronic control tester, but he ignored their pleas.
He proceeded to connect two alligator clips to his piercings and hit the test button...
When the police and rescue personnel arrived, his co-workers were still trying to revive him with CPR and rescue breathing. They were not successful.