THE DARWIN AWARDS:  A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises.
Honoring those individuals who improve the human race...
by accidentally removing themselves from it!

Celebrate Charles Darwin's 200th Birthday on February 12, 2009.

2008 Darwin Award Winner: BALLOON PRIEST (Padre Baloneiro)

April 2008, Atlantic Ocean | A Catholic priest ascended to
heaven on a host of helium party balloons, paying homage to
Lawn Chair Larry's aerial adventure. Larry, the beloved
survivor of a Darwin-worthy fiasco, attached 45 helium weather
balloons to his lawnchair, packed a picnic lunch, and cut the
tether--but instead of drifting above the Los Angeles landscape
as planned, he was rocketed into LAX air traffic lanes by the
lift of the weather balloons. Astoundingly, Larry survived the

Adelir Antonio, 51, was not so lucky.

His audacious attempt to set a world record for clustered
balloon flight was intended to publicize his plan to build a
spiritual rest stop for truckers. But, as truckers know,
sitting for 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

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 determine his location, since he could not use his GPS. He
struggled with the unit as the charge on the satellite phone

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

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!

Reader comment: "There but for the grace of Tecumseh..."
See a photo:

"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid."
--Benjamin Franklin

2008 Darwin Award Runner Up: A ONE TRACK MIND

July 2008, Italy | Gerhard, 68, was queued at a traffic light
in his Porsche Cayenne sportscar.  Before one reaches the
light, there is a railroad crossing, and Gerhard had not let
the queue progress forward far enough before he drove onto the
tracks.  As you might imagine, given Murphy's Law, a train was

The safety bars came down, leaving the Porsche trapped on the
rails.  According to witnesses, it took the driver awhile to
realize he was stuck.  Finally he jumped from the car and
started to run--straight toward the oncoming train, waving his
arms in an attempt to save his sportscar!

The attempt was partly successful.  The car received less
damage than its owner, who landed 30 meters away.  Attempts to
revive him were unsuccessful.

The moral of the story? Momentum always wins.

Pithy Comments:

"Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid." --John Wayne

2008 Darwin Award Runner Up: THOU SHALT NOT STEEL

March 2008, Czech Republic | Steel is valuable, especially the
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 steel cable can be found in elevator shafts.

This particular gold mine was a towering shaft inside an empty
granary near Zatec, forty 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 downward, accelerating until it reached the bottom of
the shaft.

Result: one proud winner of a "terminal velocity" Darwin Award.


"Do not steel or you will get the shaft."
More Puns:

"Think of it as evolution in action."

2008 Darwin Award Runner Up: ON THE PISTE

February 2008, Italy | David, 46, was sliding down an Italian
ski slope one night, riding on padding that he had removed
from the safety barriers at the bottom of the run. It did not
occur to him that it might be dangerous to sled down the same
slope from which he had stolen protective padding.

Sauze d'Oulx is one of five villages that make up the "Milky
Way" ski area in northern Italy. Popular with British skiers,
the resort is known for its party atmosphere. A ski resort
spokesperson said, "The men had all been drinking when they
tore off the padding, and ironically..."

...they careened straight into the bare barriers at the bottom
of the piste (groomed slope). David died from head and chest
injuries inflicted by the unpadded metal. Two of his friends
survived with medical attention. Another Darwin Award
candidate is still missing after he wandered away "bloodied
and distressed."

"No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. 
If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test
people for drugs.  We should test them for stupidity."--P.J.O'Rou

2008 Darwin Award Runner Up: CLOTHESLINED!

January 2008, Florida | Wearing only swim trunks and sneakers,
a 37-year-old man raced his motorcycle toward the Manasota Key
drawbridge. As the bridge began to open, it was clear that he
intended to "shoot the gap." Bridge designers had anticipated
such lunacy and invented the crossing guard. The closing gates
swept him off his Suzuki, over the side of the bridge, into
the water, and out of the gene pool. By a twist of fate the
motorcycle continued up the ramp and made it across to the
other side.


2008 Darwin Award Runner-Up: PIERCED!

January 2008, Pennsylvania | A 23-year-old man with various
body piercings decided to have some fun at work.  He wondered,
"What it would feel like to connect the electronic control
tester to my chest piercings?"  Several coworkers tried to
convince him that it was a bad idea to wire himself up to the
electronic device, but he ignored their pleas..

He proceeded to connect two alligator clips to his metal
nipple piercings, one on each side, and hit the test button...
His coworkers were still trying to revive him with CPR and
rescue breathing when police and rescue personnel
arrived. They were not successful.

"If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions
do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask
questions?" -Scott Adams

VALENTINES DAY: The next Darwin Awards newsletter will feature
Bad Date stories... because a bad enough date can prevent you
from reproducing, thereby removing your genes from the pool!

Please buy my new book!

Wendy "Darwin" Northcutt
Brains For Sale.  Hardly used, but slightly worse for wear.




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