Darwin Awards 1999

The Darwin Awards, for those not familiar, are for those individuals who contribute to the survival of the fittest by eliminating themselves from the gene pool before they have a chance to breed.

NOMINEE No. 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 No. 2 [Kalamazoo Gazette]: James Burns, 34, a mechanic of Alamo, Michigan, was killed 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 the troubling noise. Burns’ clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns "wrapped in the drive shaft."

NOMINEE No. 3: [Hickory Daily Record]: Ken Charles Barger, 47 accidentally shot himself to death in Newton, N.C. 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 No. 4: [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 has conducted demonstrations of window strength according to police reports. Peter Lawers, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" members of the 200-man association."

NOMINEE No. 5: Michael Anderson Godwin made news posthumously. He spent several years awaiting South Carolina’s electric chair for a murder conviction before successfully having his sentence reduced to life imprisonment. While sitting on a metal toilet in his cell and attempting to fix his small TV set, he bit a wire and was electrocuted.

NOMINEE No. 6: [The Indianapolis Star]: A cigarette lighter may have triggered a fatal explosion. A Jay County man, using a lighter to check the barrel of a muzzleloader, was killed when the weapon discharged in his face. Sheriff investigators said Gregory David Pryor died in his parents’ rural Dunkirk home while 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 No. 7: [AP, St. Louis]: Robert Puelo, 32, was apparently behaving in a disorderly fashion in a St. Louis market, when the clerk threatened to call the police. Pueblo 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 after he had choked to death.

NOMINEE No. 8: Poacher Marino Malerba shot a stag standing above him on an overhanging cliff and was killed instantly when the dead stag fell on him.

NOMINEE No. 9: [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. Jerry Stromyer, 24, of Kincaid, bit the blasting cap as a prank during a party.

NOMINEE No. 10: [UPI, Portland, Oregon]: Doctors at Portland’s University Hospital said an Oregon man, shot through the skull by a hunting arrow, is lucky to be alive and will be released soon. Tony Roberts, 25, lost his right eye during an initiation into Mountain Men Anonymous, a men’s rafting club in Grants Pass Oregon. A member tried to shoot a beer can off his head, but the arrow entered Robert’s right eye instead. Doctors said that if the arrow had gone one millimeter to the left, a major blood vessel would have been severed and Roberts would have died instantly. Neurosurgeon Dr. John Delashaw said the arrow went through 8 to 10 inches brain, with the tip protruding at the rear of Roberts’ skull, yet somehow, it managed to miss all major blood vessels. Delashaw also said that if Roberts had tried to pull the arrow out, he surely would have killed himself. Roberts admitted that he and his friends had been drinking that afternoon. Roberts said, "I feel so dumb about this."

NOMINEE No. 11: [The Calgary Sun (CP)]: A man arguing over a love triangle accidentally 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 a shouting match, but when he stuffed it back into his pants, the gun went off.

NOMINEE No. 12: [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]: Two local men were seriously injured when their pick-up truck left the road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch on State Highway 38. Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc and Billy Ray Wallis, 38, of Little Rock are listed in serious condition at Baptist Medical Center. The accident occurred as the two men were returning to Des Arc after a frog-digging trip. On an overcast Sunday night, Poole’s pick-up truck headlights malfunctioned. The two men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older model truck had burned out. A replacement fuse was not available, and Wallis noticed that a .22 caliber bullet from his pistol fit perfectly into the fuse box next to the steering wheel column. Upon inserting the bullet, the headlights began to operate and the two men proceeded eastbound toward White River bridge. After traveling approximately 20 miles and just before crossing the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged and struck Poole in the right testicle. The vehicle swerved sharply to the right and struck a tree. Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions from the accident, but will require surgery to repair the other wound. Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was treated and released. "Thank God we weren’t on the bridge when Thurston shot his balls off or we might both be dead," stated Wallis. "I’ve been a trooper for 10 years in this part of the world, but this is a first for me," said the reporting officer, Dovey Snyder. "I can’t believe those two would admit how this accident happened." Upon being notified of the wreck, Poole’s wife Lavinia asked how many frogs the boys had caught and did anyone get them from the truck.

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