2006 Darwin Award Winner: Star Wars
Two people, 17 and 20, who imitated Darth Vader and made light sabres from fluorescent light tubes. That's right, they opened up fluoresceent tubes, poured gasoline inside, and lit the end... As one can imagine, a Star Wars sized explosion was not far behind. One died, the other survived to 'fess up to their creative, but stupid, reenactment.
1st Runner Up: Hammer of Doom
August 2006, Brazil) August brings us a winner from Brazil, who tried to disassemble a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) by driving back and forth over it with a car. This technique was ineffective, so he escalated to pounding the RPG with a sledgehammer. The second try worked--in a sense. The explosion proved fatal to one man, six cars, and the repair shop wherein the efforts took place.
14 more RPG grenades were found in a car parked nearby. Police believe the ammunition was being scavenged to sell as scrap metal. If it wasn't scrap then, it certainly is now!
2nd Runner Up: High on Life
3 June 2006, Florida) Two more candidates have thrown themselves into the running for a Darwin Award. The feet of Jason and Sara, both 21, were found protruding from a deflated, huge helium advertising balloon. Jason was a college student, and Sara attended community college, but apparently their education had glossed over the importance of oxygen.
The pair pulled down the 8' balloon, and climbed inside. Their last words consisted of high-pitched, incoherent giggling as they slowly passed out and passed into the hereafter.
Sheriff's deputies said the two were not victims of foul play. No drugs or alcohol were found. The medical examiner reported that helium inhalation was a significant factor in their deaths. A family member said "Sara was mischievous, to be honest. She liked fun and it cost her."
2006 Honorable Mention (no one dies): Snake in the Grass
A hiker in Scotland picked up a grass snake so his brother could take a picture. Just as he reached for it, a black serpent slithered into view, so he grabbed that one, too. It was a Black Adder, Britain's only venomous snake. Both reptiles sank their fangs into the 44-year-old, who responded with serious anaphylactic shock. He gradually and painfully recovered in the hospital. His excuse for his rash act? He didn't think venomous snakes inhabited the whole of Scotland.
2006 Honorable Mention (no one dies): Flyswatter
(April 2004, California) An adult education teacher gave 25 students an impromptu lesson in safety during his safety class. Using opaque reasoning, Teach figured the 40-mm shell he had found on a hunting trip must be inert. He kept the round and used it as a paperweight on his desk. After all, ordnance is such a unique conversation piece. But more notably, this particular ordnance was the teacher's ticking ticket to fame.
One spring morning, a bug crawled across his desk. Should he squash it with a tissue? Sweep it out the door? Leave it to pursue its happy existence, and continue on with his lesson? No; the teacher picked another alternative. He took up the "inert" artillery shell and slammed it onto the short-lived insect.
The impact set off the primer, and the resulting explosion caused him burns and shrapnel lacerations on his hand, forearm, and torso. No one else in the classroom was hurt. To the teacher's further consolation, his actions did succeed in one respect: the bug was eliminated.