Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners

Charles Darwin described the idea of Natural Selection. Long after he died, the Darwin Awards were created for the dumbest ways people died.


When Charles Darwin developed his Theory of Evolution he discovered animals bred selectively, so the strongest and fittest of the species were more likely to mate and pass on their DNA. Darwin called this Natural Selection. But every day people do stuff so stupid they actually die, and so no longer have the ability to pass their DNA to future generations.

Long after he died, the Darwin Awards were created as a tongue-in-cheek way to remember those people who have removed themselves from humanity through their own stupidity. Here are the top 20 dumbest of the dumb Darwin Award winners.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


When inmate Michael Godwin had his death penalty commuted to a life sentence, he was grateful to be able to walk away from death row. But it seems that karma had other plans. One night in 1989, he discovered the television in his cell was broken and, deciding to fix it himself, embarked on a little DIY.

Foolishly, he thought it would be a great idea to use his teeth instead of a wire cutter. Biting down on a live wire he electrocuted himself, not helped by the fact he was sitting on a metal toilet at the time.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners

Godwin may have escaped the electric chair, but it seems destiny was intent on seeing him die by electrocution.


When a Brazilian farmer discovered a bee hive on his property in 2002, he knew precisely two things. Bees could sting and they needed to be removed with fire. No one knows why he decided that fire was his best option.

All we do know is that he fashioned a makeshift helmet from a plastic bag to save himself from both the smoke and the bee stings.

Darwin Awards Winners PLastic bag over head

But besides all his careful planning, he didn't bother to think that he might have to breathe and failed to poke air holes into the plastic bag.

When he didn't return home, his wife set out to find him and soon discovered him suffocated beneath the beehive. He was untouched by the bees, though.

Darwin Awards Winners Plastic bag over head


One afternoon in 2005, Marko decided to clean the chimney in his workshop. But when he tried to use a simple broom, he realized it was too small for the job. Clearly, he had to improvise. He decided what he needed was a chain to pull the broom through the chimney and a heavy object to weigh it down.

Darwin Awards Winners Chimney cleaning grenade

Looking in his workshop, he thought he’d found the perfect thing: a grenade. All he had to do now was weld it to the broom and chain. Except he failed to think about what could happen as he switched on his welding equipment.

As soon as the flame met the grenade, it exploded - killing him instantly. The chimney, however, was left completely untouched by the blast.


Texan shop owner Michael was an alcoholic, but not an ordinary one. Due to a painful throat condition, he couldn’t drink through his mouth. This meant he had to find other ways to consume his liquor and his wife said he soon became addicted to enemas.

This popular method is far more dangerous, as alcohol is absorbed directly through the capillaries in the rectum. So, one night he wanted to get blind drunk and decided the only way to do it was to pour a hundred fluid ounces of sherry up his rear end.

What he didn't know was that after he’d passed out, the alcohol kept absorbing and he was dead by the morning. The toxicology report stated he had a blood alcohol level of 0.47% - meaning he'd pretty much embalmed himself.

Darwin Awards Winners


When we're constantly reminded to recycle, plastic bags can be a source of annoyance. So, when a 58-year-old Australian woman was driving to the grocery store and thought she’d forgotten her plastic bags, she promptly stopped her car to check the trunk.

If she was more worried about her parking than she was about grocery bags, she would have remembered to put the handbrake on. As she checked the trunk, the car began rolling backward, crushing her to death. Somehow, she managed to run herself over.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


A Romanian man in 2002 decided he would skip checking the local train schedules and instead, deduce if the train was coming through the powers of his ears alone. Lying on the railway line, he pressed his ears to the tracks to hear if the train was approaching.

Clearly, his hearing wasn't all he thought it was because he never heard it. He was hit by an oncoming express train and died immediately.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


Don't you just hate it when your lava lamp doesn't heat up quickly enough? Well, twenty-four-year-old Philip did. After plugging in his lava lamp and waiting a few minutes, he was disappointed to see that nothing was happening. Eager to get it working, he decided to speed up the process by placing it on a hot stove.

But with the contents of a lava lamp only being designed to withstand temperatures of up to 40 degrees, it quickly overheated and exploded. Poor Philip was killed when the glass from the lamp shattered and penetrated his heart. Not so groovy.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


Two bored comrades in a Romanian aluminum factory decided to have some fun with an air hose usually used for industrial machinery. When blowing dust off their clothes became boring, they cranked things up a notch and decided to remove their clothes entirely.

Things quickly moved below the belt when one of the guys decided he was going to see what happened when he pumped six bars of atmospheric pressure into his rear.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners

Not only did he break employment regulations, but he also broke right through his intestinal tract and he died within minutes from severe internal hemorrhaghing.


In 2017 two United States Navy pilots got a little too carried away with Top Gun when they decided to completely abandon safety regulations to perform daredevil-ish stunts. Reaching astonishing speeds while flying as low as 210 feet – a good 300 feet below their minimum permitted altitude - things were bound to take a downward turn as they swapped controls back and forth.

Descending too low and slow, one of the pilots traded off controls to his co-pilot, but it was too late. The T-45C Goshawk crashed before they could safely eject themselves.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners

Instructing pilot Lt Burch was fond of the phrase, “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots.” He failed to mention there are also outrageously dumb ones.


The fastest human can run at over 27 miles per hour, but that’s only after accelerating during a run-up. A Dutch teenager in 2004 thought he could do better than that and get close to that speed straight away.

In a bid to impress his friends, he set his car to cruise control at 20mph and told them he was going to jump out and run alongside the car before jumping back in and driving away. But his shocked friends could only look on as he stepped out of the moving car and immediately smashed his head on the tarmac. He died the following day.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


Described as the world's largest treasure hunt, the Geocashing app allows people to follow online clues to find small treasure boxes, known as geocaches, hidden in their area. Sounds like harmless fun until someone decides to head down a flooded waterway in search of trinkets.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners

When meteorologists warned the Czech Republic of impending rainstorms, most people paid attention. But not this group of Geocachers who thought it would be clever to climb into an underground waterworks tunnel. Although two members of the group survived, two others were swept away with one young man still reported missing.


Nobody likes long bus journeys. They're cramped and boring, not to mention you're basically sharing a tin can with dozens of strangers and their farts. One Scottish woman especially hated the idea of spending twelve hours stuck on a coach from Glasgow to London without a cigarette.

Passengers reported that she grew increasingly agitated and watched in horror as she began throwing herself at the passenger door. The bus was traveling at 60mph when she tumbled out into the road before falling under the wheels of the bus. Smoking really does kill.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


Most people go to the movies to see the drama unfold on the screen, not beside them. When a local man booked tickets in the VIP area of the cinema complex, he was hoping for a good time. What he got instead was a ticket to the Darwin Awards.

After dropping his phone beneath his seat, he tried to retrieve it - only to get his head wedged inside the footrest. If this wasn't bad enough, he then suffered a cardiac arrest and died in hospital.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


50-year-old Michael was a clever man. Not only was he a college headmaster, but he was also a respected geography lecturer on the conference circuit. While on a trip to the Victoria Falls bridge, he was happily taking photos of his girlfriend when he dropped his glasses over the edge.

Thinking he wouldn't be able to enjoy the view of the glorious Victoria Falls without them, he tried to retrieve them, only to fall 40 ft. He didn't survive.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


This historic entry into the Darwin Awards sees another clever man, Founding Father of the USA, Gouverneur Morris come to an untimely end through an eye-watering DIY medical procedure.

When Morris began suffering from a blockage in his urethra, he took matters into his own hands. Inserting a whalebone into his urethra, all he managed to do was give himself a deadly infection. He died November 6, 1816 – probably feeling silly.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


58-year-old Clifford Jones was driving without a seatbelt. He was also driving without pants. When a regular drive just wasn't interesting enough, he decided to watch a bit of adult content on his phone and have some fun.

If only he’d kept his hands on the wheel. With blood rushing away from his head, he grew increasingly distracted and lost control of his car. As it crashed, he hurtled through the sunroof and died on impact.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners


Faking a smile, posing with angry animals, posing with a primed grenade, these are all dumb things people will do for attention online. In 2017, Alexander 'Sasha' Chechik from Russia pulled the pin out of a hand grenade while in his car and posted photographs of himself holding it to his girlfriend; probably as a way to show off his balls of brainless steel.

Darwin Awards Winners Grenade explosion

A source who spoke to the Russian news service reporting the incident said: ‘’the guy didn’t manage to insert the hand grenade pin back in.’’ The pin is the safety mechanism. The lever on the side is the firing mechanism that activates the grenade when released.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners

However, it's still not worth risking it by removing the pin. Police categorized his death as an accident, as they believed he thought it wouldn’t explode as long as he didn’t throw it.


Prabhu Bhatara from India was on his way home from a wedding when he spotted a black bear. Seeing this as a great photo opportunity, he got close to the bear and attempted to take a selfie with it. As he did, the bear mauled him.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners

He died shortly after due to his injuries. My advice: stay far away from bears. They may be cute, but if you photograph them at an angle that makes them look fat, it's game over.


Two pathologists at a German symposium dinner told the tale of a man who stumbled across a World War 2 grenade. Instead of staying well clear, he wanted to open it up to see how it worked. Back home, he placed it inside a vice and tried to saw it perfectly in half. The saw detonated the grenade and the man died from a fatal head injury.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners

Upon post-mortem, it was discovered there was very little brain matter left inside his skull. Although the two pathologists joked that there couldn't have been much to start with.

1. Smokin' Hot!

Gary Banning from North Carolina was at his friend's house when he spotted a mysterious jar of tasty-looking liquid. Assuming it was hot sauce, and without bothering to check, he flipped off the lid and started to drink it.

Darwin Awards Winners drinking gasoline

But he soon discovered it wasn't hot sauce at all - but a jar of gasoline. The shock of chugging gasoline was too much for Gary so he spat it out, and then tried to calm down with a cigarette. As soon as he lit it, he caught fire and died the next day from his injuries.

Darwin Awards Winners drinking gasoline fire

I hope you don't ever make any of these mistakes, which would probably earn you a place in the list of Darwin Awards winners. If you were amazed at these dumb ways people died, you might want to check out our entire Darwin Awards Series. Thanks for reading!

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