Darwin Award 1997

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There follows an entrant for the 1997 Darwin Award, given to those who do the gene pool the greatest service by getting themselves killed in the most stupid fashion. You may remember last year's winner, who fitted his car with a rocket-assisted takeoff bottle, designed for launching large fighter aircraft.

Although this contestant did not kill himself (this time), we expect to be amused with the details of his demise in the near future. This man was injured in an accident and was therefore required to fill out an insurance claim form. As the cause of the accident, he put "poor planning." When the insurance company contacted him and asked for additional information, this was his response:

"You said in your letter that I should explain more fully and I trust the following details are sufficient. I am an amateur radio operator and on the day of the accident, I was working alone on the top section of my new 80-foot tower. When I had completed my work I discovered that I had, over the course of many trips up the tower, brought up some 300 pounds of tools and spare hardware. Rather than carry the now un-needed tools down by hand, I decided to lower the items down in a small barrel by using a pulley, which was fortunately attached to the gin pole at the top of the tower.

"Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the top of the tower and loaded the tools and materials into the barrel. Then I went back down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the barrel. You will note in Block Number 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh only 155 pounds. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope.

Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate of speed up the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming down. This explains my fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold onto the rope in spite of my pain.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of tools hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of tools, the barrel now weighed approximately 20 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in Block Number 11.

As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations on my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me down enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of tools and, fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked.

I'm sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the tools, in pain, unable to stand, and watching the empty barrel 80 feet above, I again lost my presence of mind. I let go of the rope and..."

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