The Best of: Darwin Awards

5. (26 September 2009, Dinant, Belgium) Two bankrobbers attempting to make a sizeable withdrawal from an ATM machine died when they overestimated the quantity of dynamite needed for the explosion. Nobody else was in the building at the time of the attack. Robber One was rushed to hospital severely injured, and Robber Two was unexpectedly excavated from the debris twelve hours later.

Uncovering the second bungler's body was a surprise because investigators initially assumed that the accomplice had managed a getaway. Would-be robbers One and Two weren't exactly impoverished--their getaway car was a BMW.

4. (3 June 2009, North Carolina) Greensboro was innundated with four inches of pouring rain in two hours leading to standing water, and stranding cars on several roads. Rosanne Tippett, 50, was not deterred. She hopped on her moped and drove to a convenience store where she possibly had a beer, according to her mother, before deciding to blunder home through the storm. She phoned home to share her intentions, saying, "My moped has two rubber wheels, Mom, I'll be fine."

North Carolina does not require a license to own a moped.
Ms. Tippett had acquired hers two years previously after a DUI conviction.

The Highway Patrol had blocked off several roads that were inundated with water, including Ms. Tippett's path home. But Ms. Tippett rode right past the officer and the barriers, lost control of her vehicle, and fell into the swollen creek below. The officer retrieved rope from his vehicle and proceeded to haul her from the water.

He then interviewed Ms. Tippett, probably inquiring about her motivation for speeding through a roadblock during a flash flood. The officer began to suspect that she had been drinking. When he briefly returned to his patrol car, Ms. Tippett took the opportunity to confirm his suspicions. She escaped--by jumping back into the creek!

The Highway Patrol officer attempted to rescue her again, but alas, it was too late. The victim's mother speculated that her daughter's motivation for jumping into a flooded creek was to rescue her drowning moped. "She loved that thing."

3. (12 April 2008, Florida) Traffic was moving slowly on southbound I-95. Shawn Montero had left a Pompano Beach bar with three friends, and now all four were stuck in traffic. You don't buy beer, you just rent it, and Shawn couldn't wait another moment to relieve himself. "I need to take a leak."

Traffic was deadlocked, so the waterlogged man climbed out, put his hand on the divider, and jumped over the low concrete wall... only to fall 65 feet to his death.

"He probably thought there was a road, but there wasn't," said a Fort Lauderdale police spokesman. His mother shared her thoughts. "Shawn didn't do a whole lot for a living. He got along on his charm, just like his father."

Though his death was tragic, it proves the old adage. "Look before you leak!"

Reader comment: "Dying to go."

2. (27 June 2009, Pennsylvania) A severe storm damaged power lines and left 17,000 homes without electricity. Mieczyskaw Mil, 64, was one of the affected parties. His power line serviced only 17 homes and therefore was one of the last to be repaired. Seven hours after the line fell, Mieczyskaw Mil finally lost his patience.

The old man had been shooed away repeatedly by firefighters who were guarding the power line. "Police and firefighters literally chased him away. We did everything we could," said Dick Martinkovic, commissioner of public safety in Sullivan County. But they were not prepared for the homeowner's sudden bold move.

Frustrated with waiting, Mil emerged from his home shortly after midnight with an industrial circular saw in his hand and plastic bags on his feet. He stood in a puddle of water and attempted to saw through a 4800-volt feeder line that was dangling off the pole. He fell and became tangled in the hissing and buzzing live wire. While emergency responders waited for utility workers to shut down the power, Mil was busy being killed by continuous electrocution.

The story says it all. He was repeatedly shooed away from the power line, but insisted on cutting it while standing in a puddle, and now is safely out of the gene pool. Thanks for doing our species a favor, Mil!

1. (31 July 2009, South Carolina) Two disguised men entered the Sprint store on Sparkleberry Lane, pulled out guns, and stole wallets, purses, and credit cards before ordering the employees into a bathroom. Both men fled, but they could not flee from their own stupidity. 24-year-old James Thomas had disguised himself by spray-painting his own face.

Yes, in order to conceal his identity during the robbery, Thomas covered his skin with paint--a toxic substance with well muttknown inhalation risks. He began having trouble breathing (surprise!) and died wheezing shortly after the robbery took place. Witnesses were certain as to the identity of their assailant; had he lived, he would have been charged with armed robbery.

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