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Note, there was great improvement in the areas of teamwork and cooperation among the candidates in 1997--it's no longer an individual sport.  Here are (drum roll) the 1997 runners-up and winners:

Runners-Up

BULLSEYE

Doctor's at Portland University Hopsital said an Oregon man shot through the skull by a hunting arrow is lucky to be alive and will be released soon from the hospital.  

Tony Roberts, 25, lost his right eye last weekend during an initiation into a man's rafting club, Mountain Men Anonymous (better known as Mountain Morons Anonymous) in Grants Pass, Oregon.

A friend tried to shoot a beer can off his head, but the arrow entered Robert's right eye.  Doctors said had the arrow gone 1 millimeter to the left, a major blood vessel would have been cut and Roberts would have died instantly.  Neurosurgeon Doctor Johnny Delashaw at the University Hospital in Portland said the arrow went through 8 to 10 inches of brain with the tip protruding at the rear of his skull, yet somehow managed to miss all major blood vessels.

Delashaw also said had Roberts tried to pull the arrow out on his own, he surely would have killed himself.  Roberts admitted afterwards he and his friends had been drinking that afternoon.  (DUH!)

Said Roberts, "I feel so dumb about this".

No charges have been filed, but Joesephine County district attorney's office said the initiation stunt is under investigation.

STERILIZED

A man arguing over a love triangle accidentally shot himself in the groin, taking off his testicles and part of his penis.  Police said the man was waving a .357 magnum revolver around during the shouting match early yesterday.  But when he stuffed it back into his pants, the gun went off.  Police were called to the hospital after the man in his 20s was brought in by friends.  Charges are pending against the victim, who is expected to survive.

THE LIGHTS ARE ON BUT NOBODY'S HOME

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS - Two local men were seriously injured when their pick-up truck left the road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch on State Highway 38 early Monday morning.  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 are listed in serious condition at Baptist Medical Center.  

The accident occurred as the two men were returning to Des Arc after a frog gigging trip.  On an overcast Sunday night, Poole's pick-up 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 available, 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 lights began to operate properly and the two men proceeded on east-bound toward the White River bridge.  After traveling approximately twenty miles and just before crossing the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged, and struck Poole in the right testicle.  The vehicle then swerved sharply to the right, exiting the pavement and striking a tree.

Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions, but will require surgery to repair the other wound.  Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was treated and released.

"Thank God we weren't on the bridge when Thurston shot his ______ off or we might both be dead," stated Wallis.

"I've been a trooper for ten 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.

HAVE A BLAST

A man at a West Virginia party popped a blasting cap into his mouth and bit down, triggering an explosion that blew off his lips, teeth, and tongue.

"Jerry Stromyer, 24, of Kincaid, bit the blasting cap as a prank during the party late Tuesday night", said Cpl. M.D. Payne.  "Another man had it in an aquarium hooked to a battery and was trying to explode it," said Payne, "It wouldn't go off and this guy said 'I'll show you how to set it off'."

He put it into his mouth and bit down.

"It blew all of his teeht out and his lips and tongue off, " Payne said.

Stromyer was listed in guarded condition Wednesday with extensive facial injuries, according to a spokesperson at Charleston Area Medical Division.

"I just can't imagine anyone doing something like that, " said Poole.

The WINNERS of the 1997 Darwin Awards

10th PLACE

A San Anselmo, California, man died when he hit a lift tower at the Mammoth Moutain ski area while riding down the slope on a foam pad.  22-year-old David Hubal was pronounced dead at Centinela Mammoth Hospital.  

"The accident occurred about 3 a.m.", the Mono County Sheriff's Department said.

"Hubal and his friends friends apparently had hiked up a ski run called Stump Alley and undid some yellow foam protectors from lift towers," said Lt. Mike Donnelly of the Mammoth Lakes Police Department.

The pads are used to protect skiers who might hit towers.  The group apparently had used the pads to slide down the ski slope and Hubal crashed into a tower.  It has since been investigated and determined that the tower he hit was the one with its pad removed.

9th PLACE

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.

8th PLACE

Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, N.C., when, awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone, but grabbed instead a Smith and Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.

7th PLACE

Robert Puelo, 32, was apparently being disorderly in a St. Louis market.  When the clerk threatened to call police, Puelo grabbed a hot dog, shoved it in his mouth, and walked out without paying for it.

Police found him unconscious in front of the store; paramedics removed the six-inch wiener from his throat, where it had choked him to death.

6th PLACE

Poacher Marion Malerba of Spain shot a stag standing above him on an overhanging rock and was killed instantly when it fell on him.

5th PLACE

A cigarette lighter may have triggered a fatal explosion- Dunkirk, Indiana.  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 about 11:30pm.  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.

4th PLACE

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 and attempting to fix his small TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted.

3rd PLACE

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 had conducted demonstrations of window strength according to police reports.  Peter Lawyers, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" members of the 200-man association.

2nd PLACE

James Burns, 34, (a mechanic) of Alamo, Michigan, was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police described 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."

The 1997 Darwin Awards GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

John Pernicky and his friend Sal Hawkins, of the great State of Washington, decided to attend a local Metallica concert at George Washington amphitheater.  Having no tickets (but having had 18 beers between them) they thought it would be easy to "hop" over the nine-foot fence and sneak into the show.

They pulled their pick-up truck over to the fence and the plan was for Mr. Pernicky (who was 100 pounds heavier than Mr. Hawkins) to hop the fence and then assist his friend over.  Unfortunately for Mr. Pernicky, there was a thirty-foot drop on the other side of the fence.

Having heaved himself over, he found himself crashing through a tree.  His fall was abruptly halted (and broken along with his arm, as it were) by a large branch snagged him by the shorts.  Dangling from the tree with a broken arm, he looked down and saw some bushes below him.  Possibly figuring the bushes would break his fall, he removed his pocket knife and proceeded to cut away his shorts to free himself from the tree. 

Finally free, Mr. Pernicky crashed into Holly bushes.  The sharp leaves scratched his entire body and now, without the protection of his shorts, a Holly branch penetrated his rectal cavity.  To make matters worse (?!), on landing, his pocket knife penetrated his thigh 3-inches.

Mr. Hawkins, on seeing his friend in considerable pain and agony, decided to throw him a rope and pull him to safety by tying the rope to the pick-up truck and slowly driving away.  However, in his drunken state, he hastily put the truck in reverse, crashed through the fence, landed on his friend, and killed him.

Police arrived to find the crashed pick-up with its driver thrown 100-feet from the truck and dead at the scene from massive internal injuries.  Upon moving the truck, they found John under it, half-naked with scratches on his body, a holly stick in his rectum, a knife in his thigh, and his shorts dangling from a tree branch 25 feet in the air.

Congratulations gentlemen, you win...