2002 Darwin Awards: Stupidity’s Finest Hour

The winner is at the bottom….

Yes, the one we’ve all been waiting for — the 2002 Darwin Awards. The candidates have finally been released! For those not familiar with the Darwin Award, it’s an annual honor given to the person who provided the Universal human gene pool the biggest service by getting KILLED in the most extraordinarily stupid way. As always, competition this year has been keen. Some candidates appear to have trained their whole lives for this event!

THE DARWIN AWARD CANDIDATES:

10. In September in Detroit, MI, a 41-year-old man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after squeezing head-first through a sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.

9. In October, a 49-year-old San Francisco, CA, stockbroker, who “totally zoned when he ran,” accidentally jogged off a 100-foot-high cliff on his daily run.

8. In Buxton, NC, a man died on a beach when an 8-foot-deep hole he dug into the sand caved in as he sat inside it. Beach goers said Daniel Jones, 21, dug the hole for fun or protection from the wind, and had been sitting in a beach chair at the bottom on Thursday afternoon when it collapsed, burying him beneath five feet of sand. People on the beach, on the Outer Banks, used their hands and shovels to try to claw their way to Jones, a resident of Woodbridge, VA, but could not reach him. It took rescue workers using heavy equipment almost an hour to free him while about 200 people looked on. Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.

7. In February, Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed in Lompoc, CA, as he fell face-first through the ceiling of a bicycle shop he was burgling. Death was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his mouth (to keep his hands free) rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.

6. According to police in Dahlonega, GA, ROTC cadet, Nick Berrena, 20, was stabbed to death in January by fellow cadet, Jeffrey Hoffman, 23, who was trying to prove that a knife could not penetrate the flak vest Berrena was wearing.

5. Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed in February in Selbyville, Del., as he “won” a bet with friends who said he would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the trigger.

4. In February, according to police in Windsor, Ontario, Daniel Kolta, 27, and Randy Taylor, 33, died in a head-on collision, thus earning a tie in the game of chicken they were playing with their snowmobiles.

DARWIN AWARD HONORABLE MENTIONS

3. In Guthrie, OK, in October, Jason Heck tried to kill a millipede with a shot from his .22 caliber rifle, but the bullet ricocheted off a rock near the hole and dinged him in the foot. Two weeks later he had succumbed to blood poisoning.

2. In Elyria, OH, in October, Martyn Eskins, attempting to clean out cobwebs in his basement, declined to use a broom in favor of a propane torch and caused a fire that destroyed much of the first and second floors of his house. He died from smoke inhalation while battling the flames.

1. Paul Stiller, 47, died in the Andover Township, NJ hospital and his wife, Bonnie, was critically injured, when a quarter-stick of dynamite blew up in their car. While driving around at 2 a.m., the bored couple lit the dynamite and tried to toss it out the window to see what would happen, but apparently failed to notice the window was closed.

THE RUNNER UP – A NEAR-MISS FROM TACOMA, WA:

Kerry Bingham had been drinking with several friends when one of them said they knew a person who had bungee-jumped from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the middle of traffic. The conversation grew more heated and at least 10 men trooped along the walkway of the bridge at 4:30 a.m. Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge, they discovered that no one had brought a bungee rope. Bingham, who had continued drinking, volunteered and pointed out that a coil of lineman’s cable lay nearby. One end of the cable was secured around Bingham’s leg and the other end was tied to the bridge. He fell 40 feet before reaching the end of the cable, which snapped tight and tore his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously survived his fall into the icy water and was rescued by two nearby fishermen. “All I can say,” said Bingham, “is that God was watching out for me on that night. There’s just no other explanation for it.” Bingham’s foot was never located.

AND FINALLY, THE WINNER: ALL THE WAY FROM PADERBORN, GERMANY:

Overzealous zoo keeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his constipated elephant, Stefan, 22 doses of herbal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs, and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let it fly, and suffocated the keeper under 200 pounds of feces! Investigators say the ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive oil enema when the beast unloaded in relief. “The sheer force of the elephant’s unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to the ground, where his head struck a rock and he lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his overloaded bowel on top of him,” said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective, Erik Dern. “With no one there to help him, he lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along, and during that time he suffocated. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that happen.”

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