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.
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.
The telephone company was replacing above-ground telephone lines with buried lines. In one sparsely populated farming area, if lines crossed a country road they would dig a trench halfway across, so rural traffic could continue through. Then they would fill in the trench, and dig a trench on the other side.
One morning, local farmers called the sheriff to report a smashed-up pickup. Inside were two ranch hands who were last seen the previous night, heading home after last call. You see...
On their way to the bars, the men had decided to play a prank. They stopped their pickup, and moved the flashing warning signs from the trenched side to the good side of the country road. Crime scene analysis later confirmed that they were the culprits who moved the flashing stands. Investigations also revealed that at the time of the accident, they were driving at an excessive speed with an impressive amount of alcohol in their systems.
No crime scene analysis is capable of determining whether the ranch hands forgot their prank, or chose to see what would happen if they hit that trench at a high rate of speed in the middle of the night.
No good prank goes unpunished.
8 March 2008, Florida) Just because you see it online does not mean it's a good idea. Cameron, 18, was joyriding in a shopping cart as he held onto a moving SUV. An eyewitness said, "It's irresponsible behavior, but what do you expect from kids?" The car and the cart went over a speed bump and the cart overturned, ejecting its occupant, who was not wearing the little seat belt. Cameron was pronounced dead at the scene.
(15 January 2008, Sweden) The Darwin Awards have celebrated many bone-headed things burglars do in the commission of their crimes. For instance, taking a shortcut down a 55-foot sheer rock face.
Early one morning, two men broke into a gymnasium (high school) east of Stockholm. After a profitable stroll through the building, they were startled by a janitor. They raced out of the building into the pre-dawn darkness. Fearing imminent detection, they took a shortcut to safety--down the face of a steep 55-foot rock escarpment. But in selecting this convenient shortcut, they failed to consider three crucial facts:
First, it was pitch black. Due to the northern latitude, the sun rises late in Sweden. Second, it had rained during the night. And third, the rock in eastern Sweden is granite, the type of rock that is polished into posh floors and fancy countertops. The danger of slippery granite is a well-known fact for residents of the area.
Escaping down a granite cliff, in the rain, in the dark? Try tilting a slab of polished granite, pouring water over it, and making a controlled descent while carrying a load of loot. This is the province of mountain goats, not humans hoping to pass on their genes. In short, one of the burglars slipped and fell head-over-heels to his death, bringing a new meaning to "the crack of dawn."
His worldly riches were scattered around him.