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As always, competition this year has been keen again.  Some candidates appear to have trained their whole lives for this event.  Entries this year have not had the special touch of some previous ones, but are a worthy catalogue of stupidity, incompetence and bad luck.



TAOS, NM - A woman went into a poison control center after eating three birth-control vaginal inserts.  Her English was so bad she had to draw a picture describing how she believed she had poisoned herself.  A translator arrived shortly thereafter and confirmed doctors' suspicions.  

Marie Valishnokov thought the inserts were some kind of candy or gum, being unable to read the foil wrappers.  After the third one, she realized something was wrong when her throat and mouth began to fill with a sour-tasting foam.  She ran for the Poison Control Center, only a few blocks away where doctors were able to flush the foam from her mouth, throat, and stomach with no ill effects.


Attorney Antonio Mendoza was released from a trauma center after having a cell phone removed from his rectum.  

"My dog drags the thing all over the house," he said later.  "He must have dragged it into the shower.  I slipped on the tile, tripped against the dog, and sat down right on the thing."

The extraction took more than three hours due to the fact that the cover to Mr. Mendoza's phone had opened during insertion.

"He was a real trooper during the entire episode," said Dr. Dennis Crobe, "Tony just cracked jokes and really seemed to be enjoying himself. [What's more moronic, getting a cell phone stuck up your butt or enjoying it?] Three times during the extraction his phone rang, and each time, he made jokes about it that just had us rolling on the floor.  By the time we finished, we really did expect to find an answering machine in there."


In Guthrie, Oklahoma, in October, Jason Heck tried to kill a millipede with a shot from his 22-caliber rifle, but the bullet ricocheted off a rock near the hole and hit pal Antonio Martinez in the head, fracturing his skull.


In Elyria, Ohio, in October, Martyn Eskins, attempting to clean out cobwebs in his basement, declined to use a broom in favor of a propane torch and caused a fire that burned the first and second floors of his house.


Paul Stiller, 47, was hospitalized in Andover Township, NJ, in September, and his wife Bonnie was also injured, by a quarter-stick of dynamite that blew up in their car.  While driving around at 2 AM, the bored couple lit the dynamite and tried to toss it out the window to see what would happen, but they apparently failed to notice that the window was closed.


Taking "Amateur Night" too far in Betulia, Columbia, an annual festival in November includes five days of amateur bull fighting.  This year, no bull was killed, but dozens of matadors were injured, including one gored in the head and one Bobbittized.  Said one partcipant, "It's just one bull against [a town of] a thousand Morons."

The WINNERS of the 1998 Darwin Awards


In September, a 41-year-old Detroit man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after squeezing head first through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.


In October, a 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who "totally zone out when we ran", according to his wife, accidentally jogged off a 100-foot-high cliff on his daily run.


Buxton, NC, a man died on a beach when an 8-foot-deep hole he had dug into the sand caved in as he sat inside it.  Beach goers said Daniel Jones, 21 dug the hole for fun, or protection from the wind, and had been sitting in a beach chair at the bottom Thursday afternoon when it collapsed, burying him beneath 5 feet of sand.

People on the beach, on the outer banks, used their hands and shovels to claw their way to Jones, a resident of Woodbridge, VA, but could not reach him.  It took rescue workers using heavy equipment almost an hour to free him while about 200 people looked on.  Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.


In February, Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed in Lompoc, CA, as he fell face-first through the ceiling of a bicycle shop he was robbing.  Death was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his mouth (to keep his hands free) rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.


According to police in Dahlonega, GA, ROTC cadet Nick Berrena, 20, was stabbed to death in January by fellow cadet Jeffrey Hoffman, 23 who was trying to prove that a knife could not penetrate the flak vest Berrena was wearing.


Sylvester Briddell, Jr, 26, was kill in February in Selbyville, Del, as he made a bet with friends who said he would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the trigger.  (Congrats my man!  You won the bet!)

3rd Place

In February, according to police in Windsor, Ontario, Daniel Kolta, 27, and Randy Taylor, 33, died in a head-on collision, thus earning a tie in the game of chicken they were playing with their snowmobiles.

2nd Place

In September, a man fell from a 100-foot-high bluff near Ozark, Ark, after he lost his grip swinging on a cross that marked the spot where another person had fallen to his death in 1990.

The 1998 Darwin Awards GRAND PRIZE WINNER

PADERBORN, GERMANY - Overzealous zoo keeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his constipated elephant Stefan 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs, and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let fly--and suffocated the keeper under 200 pounds of excrement.  

Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive-oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded on him like a dump truck full of mud.

"The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to the ground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him, " said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective Erik Dern.  "With no one there to help him, he lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along, and during that time, he suffocated.  It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that happen."