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'Winners' of the annual Darwin Awards

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It's time to review the annual Darwin Awards, which, as you know, go to those individuals who choose the most unique manners of removing themselves from the gene pool, thus increasing the likelihood of the human species not only continuing but getting smarter. These are all from 2010.

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South Korea: A handicapped man, annoyed that an elevator closed and departed without him, thought it over and then rammed his wheelchair into the elevator doors not once, not twice, but three times in all. He failed to notice, since he was ramming it backward, that the elevator shaft was now open, through which he plunged to his death. Simultaneous success and failure combine to nominate this human the number one Darwin Award winner of 2010. You could say that he never saw his award coming, I guess.

A young couple was driving on Via Dutra, the major freeway in Brazil with tons of heavy traffic, at 6 a.m. under heavy fog, when the couple decided to park the car for "dating," according to the charming Google translation. But, it was foggy, and sure, they were in a hurry, and yes, they parked in the right lane of the freeway, not on the shoulder or at a rest stop. A huge cargo truck came by and ran right over the car, immediately crushing and killing both inside during the act. This, although it didn't win number 1, gets a double double Darwin! Two people making two obviously stupid decisions simultaneously. Even better, they made their stupid decision at the very moment of reproduction, making this a textbook Darwin Award.

In the late fall and early winter months, snow-covered mountains become infested with hunters. One ambitious pair (men, of course, who eliminate themselves far more often than women) climbed high up a mountain in search of their mountain goat quarry. The trail crossed a small glacier that had crusted over with ice and snow. The lead hunter had to stomp a foot-hold in the snow, one step at a time, in order to cross the glacier.

Somewhere near the middle of the glacier, during one of his stomps, he lost his footing and began to slide down the steeply pitched glacier. Down the ice he slid, over the edge and out of sight. Unable to help, his companion watched him slide away and over the edge. He shouted out: "Are you OK?" When the answer came, "Yes," he himself judged that this was as good a way as any to get down the mountain quickly, and jumped onto the ice and began to slide, following his friend. The last thing he saw as he plummeted over the edge and fell to his death was his friend, hanging onto a small tree that was the only thing that kept him safe.

The companion, who was later rescued, said that the last word that his friend uttered as he went over the edge was the single word most often heard from airplane pilots as they too realized they were going to crash.

Cannot say it here, though. But it does have some relationship to the procreation of the gene pool.

Two out-of-town race car crew members did dream up the following thrill ride. That Sunday evening, at the race track, the fire chief said that the two poured four gallons of methanol -- which I know the race cars are now using for fuel because of its high octane count -- into an empty 55-gallon barrel laid on its side. They then lit it.

They thought, it was

reported, that the barrel would act like a rocket, with flames shooting out of it, and propel them across the infield to cheers from the spectators. They would be waving their caps and accepting accolades as cowboy rocket jockeys. The barrel, which of course exploded, was found 120 feet away. One hero was killed; the other severely injured. The survivor said: "Who would think that four gallons of methanol would do that?"

Who indeed? Obviously not Darwin Award winners.

I like this last one the best, even though it wasn't voted number one.

In Brazil this year, an electrical discharge made toast of municipal guard Arthur de Souza Coelho, 47. According to police reports, he had installed an electrified fence wire around his car to protect it against the frequent robberies that occur in his neighborhood. He then plugged it into an extension cord. (They use 240 volts down there, in case you didn't know that.) The next morning, happy that the car was still there, he forgot that the fence was even there, as well as on. He touched it, most likely couldn't let go, and died.

Well, no one stole his car, and he did win a Darwin Award.

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