[The year would not be complete without the Darwin Awards - awarded every year to the persons who died in the stupidest manner, thereby removing themselves from the gene pool. This year's nine Darwin Award Nominees are.]
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, MI, was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police describe 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 a 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 December in Newton, NC. 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. (For whatever reason, residents of Southern states always seem to figure prominently among the Darwin nominees.)
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 Lawson, managing partner of the firm Holden Day, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" members of the 200-man association.. (Nice to see another Canadian province getting into the awards.... The Maritimes always have been heavily involved.)
Nominee No. 5 [Bloomberg News Service]: A terrible diet and a room with no ventilation are being blamed for the death of a man who was killed by his own gas emissions. There were no marks on his body, and an autopsy showed large amounts of methane gas in his system. His diet had consisted primarily of beans and cabbage (and a couple of other things). It was just the right combination of foods. It appears that the man died in his sleep from breathing the poisonous cloud that was hanging over his bed. Had he been outside or had his windows been opened, it wouldn't have been fatal. But the man was shut up in his nearly airtight bedroom. According to the article, "He was a big man with a huge capacity for creating "this deadly gas." Three of the rescuers got sick, and one was hospitalized.
Nominee No. 6 [The News of the Weird]: Michael Anderson Godwin made News of the Weird posthumously. He had spent several years awaiting South Carolina's electric chair on a murder conviction before having his sentence reduced to life in prison. While sitting on a metal toilet in his cell attempting to fix his small TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted. (North Carolina entrants are always perennial favorites.)
Nominee No. 7 [The Indianapolis Star]: A cigarette lighter may have triggered a fatal explosion in Dunkirk, IN. A Jay County man, using a cigarette lighter to check the barrel of a muzzle loader, was killed Monday night when the weapon discharged in his face, sheriff's investigators said. Gregory David Pryor, 19, died in his parents' rural Dunkirk home at about 11:30 PM. Investigators said Pryor was 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. 8 [Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario]: A man cleaning a bird feeder on the balcony of his condominium apartment in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his death. Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheeled chair when the accident occurred, said Inspector D'Arcy Honer of the Peel Regional Police. "It appears that the chair moved, and he went over the balcony," Honer said. (Another Ontario entry... I wonder if people are moving there from the Maritime Provinces.)
Finally, THE WINNER! [North Carolina Democrat Gazette]: Two local men were injured when their pickup truck left the road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch on State Highway 38 early Monday. Woodruff County deputy Dovey Snyder reported the accident shortly after midnight Monday. Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc, and Billy Ray Wallis, 38, of Little Rock, were returning to Des Arc after a "frog gigging trip" on an overcast Sunday night when Poole's pickup truck headlights malfunctioned. The two men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older-model truck had burned out. As a replacement fuse was not avail able, Wallis noticed that the .22 caliber bullet from his pistol fit perfectly into the fuse box next to the steering-wheel column. Upon inserting the bullet the headlights again began to operate properly, and the two men proceeded on eastbound toward the White River Bridge. After traveling approximately 20 miles, and just before crossing the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged, and struck Poole in the testicles. The vehicle swerved sharply right, exiting the pavement, and striking a tree. Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions from the accident, but will require extensive surgery to repair the damage to his testicles, which will never operate as intended.
Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was treated and released.. "Thank God we weren't on that 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. I can't believe that those two would admit how this accident happened," said Snyder. Upon being notified of the wreck, Lavinia (Poole's wife) asked how many frogs the boys had caught and did anyone get them from the truck?
(Though Poole and Wallis did not die as a result of their misadventure as normally required by Darwin Award Official Rules, it can be argued that Poole DID, in fact, effectively remove himself from the gene pool.)