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It's amazing the lengths that some people seem to go through in order to be a Darwin Award recipient.  Why is it that there never seems to be  a shortage of qualified candidates?  Keep in mind when you read the following stories that they are all true stories which appeared in newspapers throughout the world.  

Runners-Up

MAN DIES IN FREAK ACCIDENT

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- A 39-year-old Charlottesville man died Thursday in a freak accident involving his washing machine.  According to police reports, Samuel Randolph Strickson was doing laundry when he tried to speed up the process.  Strickson apparently tried to stuff approximately 50 pounds of laundry into his machine by climbing on top of the washer and attempting to force the clothing into the basin.

Strickson then apparently accidentally kicked the washing machine's ON button.  When the machine turned on, Strickson lost his balance and both feet went down into the machine, where they got stuck.  The machine started its cycle, and Strickson, unable to free himself, started thrashing around as the machine's agitator went into gear.  Strickson's head banged against a nearby shelf in the laundry room, knocking over a bottle of bleach, which poured over Strickson's face, blinding him.  Forensic reports say Strickson apparently also swallowed some of the bleach.  He then vomited, but was still unable to free himself.

Strickson's dog, then apparently came into the laundry room.  At about the same time, according to police, a large box of baking soda fell from the shelf, startling the dog, who then urinated.  Urine, like vinegar, is acidic, and the chemical reaction between the urine and baking soda resulted in a small explosion, according to police reports.  The dog, however, escaped unharmed.

Strickson remained stuck in the washing machine, which eventually went into it's high-speed spin cycle, spinning Strickson round at about 70 miles per hour, according to forensic experts.  Strickson's head then smashed against a steel beam behind the washing machine, immediately killing him.  A neighbor heard the commotion and called 911, but Strickson was pronounced dead at the scene.

So THAT'S why they call it CRAZY...

Vermont native, Ronald Demuth, found himself in a difficult position yesterday.  While touring the Eagle's Rock African Safari (zoo) with a group of thespians from St. Petersburg, Russia, Demuth went overboard to show them one of America's many marvels.  He demonstrated the effectiveness of "Crazy Glue" ...  the hard way.

Apparently, Demuth wanted to demonstrate just how good the adhesive was, so he put about 3 ounces of the adhesive in the palms of his hands, and jokingly placed them on the buttocks of a passing rhino.  The rhino, a resident of the zoo for the past thirteen years, was not initially startled as it has been part of the petting exhibit since its arrival as a baby.  However, once it became aware of its being involuntarily stuck to Demuth, it began to panic and ran around the petting area wildly, making Demuth an unintended passenger.

"Sally (the rhino) hadn't been feeling well lately.  She'd been very constipated.  We had just given her a laxative and some depressants to relax her bowels, when Demuth played his juvenile prank," said James Douglas, caretaker.

During Sally's tirade, two fences were destroyed, a shed wall was gored, and a number of small animals escaped.  Also, during the stampede, three pygmy goats and one duck were stomped to death.  

As for Demuth, it took a team of medics and zoo caretakers over four hours to remove his hands from the rhino's buttocks.  First, the animal had to be captured and calmed down.  However, during this process, the laxatives began to take hold and Demuth was repeatedly showered with over 30 gallons of rhino diarrhea. 

"It was tricky.  We had to calm her down while at the same time shield our faces from being pelted with rhino dung.  I guess you could say that Demuth was into it up to his neck.  Once she was under control, we had three people with shovels working to keep an air passage open for Mr. Demuth.  We were able to tranquilize her and apply a solvent to remove his hands from her rear, " said Douglass.  "I don't think he'll be playing with Crazy Glue for a while."

Meanwhile, the Russians, while obviously amused, also were impressed with the power of the adhesive.

"I'm going to buy some for my children, but of course they can't take it to the zoo," commented Vladimir Zolnikov, leader of the troupe.

The WINNERS of the 1999 Darwin Awards

5th PLACE - GIMME A LIGHT!

In a West Texas town, employees in a medium-sized warehouse noticed the smell of a gas leak.  Sensibly, management evacuated the building, extinguishing all potential sources of ignition-lights, power, etc.  After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched.  Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark.  To their frustration, none of the lights worked.

Witnesses later described the vision of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket, and retrieving an object that resembled a lighter.  Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away.  Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion.  The technician that was suspected of causing the explosion had never been thought of as "bright" by his peers.

4th PLACE - THEY SAY THOSE THINGS WILL KILL YOU...

Not much was given about this unlucky fellow, but he qualifies nonetheless.  You see, there was a gentleman from Korea who was killed by his cell phone...more or less.  He was doing the usual "walking and talking" when he walked into a tree and managed to somehow break his neck.  Keep that in mind the next time you decide to drive down the highway at 90 MPH while talking to some other moron driving on another highway at 90 MPH.

3rd PLACE - CATCH

A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites.  Big deal you may say, but there's a twist here (are you really surprised) that makes him a candidate.  It seems he and a friend were playing catch with a rattlesnake.  You can guess what happened from here.  The friend (a future Darwin Awards candidate) was hospitalized.

2nd PLACE - DON'T ASK GOD TO PROVE HIMSELF, HE JUST MIGHT

A lawyer (*snicker*) and two buddies were fishing on Caddo Lake in Texas when a lightning storm hit the lake.  Most of the other boats immediately headed for the shore, but not our friend the lawyer.  On the rear of his aluminum bass boat with his buddies, this individual stood up, spread his arms wide (crucifixion style) and shouted: "HERE I AM LORD, LET ME HAVE IT!"

Needless to say, God delivered.  The other two passengers on the boat survived the lightning strike with minor burns.

The 1999 Darwin Awards GRAND PRIZE WINNER!

GRAVITY KILLS

A 22-year-old Reston man was found dead yesterday after he tried to use "occy" straps (the stretchy little ropes with hooks on each end) to bungee jump off of a 70-foot railroad trestle, police said.

Fairfax County police said Eric A. Barcia, a fast-food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together, wrapped an end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake Accotink Park, then jumped...and hit the pavement.

Warren Carmichael, a police spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found nearby.  "The length of the cord that he had assembled was greater than the distance between the trestle and the ground,"  Carmichael said.  

Police say the apparent cause of death was "major trauma."  An autopsy is scheduled for later in the week.