Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners (Part 2)

Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution describes Natural Selection. Long after he died, the Darwin Awards were created for the dumbest ways people died.


Natural selection is mother nature’s way of making sure people get smarter, but even after 200,000 years of human evolution, some of us are still making really terrible choices. Let’s take a look at some of the most foolish examples that showcase some Darwin award winners.

20. Way Too Hot Spring

Colin Scott was looking forward to a dip in a hot spring when he strayed off the trail at Yellowstone in 2016 to go swimming in one of its famous hot springs. This activity is forbidden by park rules, but Colin, a former nature reserve volunteer, thought he knew better.

That is until he slipped into the Norris Geyser Basin: a thermal bath of boiling acidic water with below-surface temperatures of up to 459 degrees. Sadly for Colin, the only remains found were his wallet and flip-flops.

Darwin Awards Winners hot springs Colin Scott

19. Safe-ty First

If there’s one thing we all know about safes, it’s that they’re heavy. Someone should have told this hapless burglar from Indiana, who broke into a man’s garage and tried to lift an antique, 900-pound safe suspended on a floor jack. When the homeowner returned to check his garage, he found the unlucky thief crushed to death.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

The owner of the safe said that stealing the safe would have been pointless because it was completely empty. Crushed to death by an empty safe? I’m sure there’s a lesson here somewhere, and it’s safe to say this burglar learned it.

18. Don’t Forget Your Pin

There are few things more satisfying than when bullies get what they deserve. Especially big ones. Cambodian military policeman Khim Sakhorn – nicknamed “Big Giant” – got exactly that when he tried to extort money and crystal meth from a local dealer.

To scare the dealer, Khim pulled the pin from a grenade. Unsurprisingly, this tactic worked, and the dealer handed over the goods. Kim then put the live grenade back in his pocket.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

Did it ever cross Khim’s mind how dumb this was? By the time this massive mobster reached his motorcycle, the grenade exploded, blasting the “Big Giant” into “Tiny Little” pieces.

17. Runway Cyclist

Unless you’ve got E.T. in your basket, you probably shouldn’t be cycling on an airport runway. This advice never reached Brazilian cyclist Marcelo, who was crossing an airfield near Sao Paulo while listening to his Walkman.

Yes, it was 1997, but that’s no excuse. The 25-year-old was totally clueless as he collided with the propeller of a landing plane, mangling the blades and damaging the wing in the process. Following security guidelines, he was wearing a helmet, although it didn't help much.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

16. Fast Food Fatality

In an attempt to rip off their workplace, two managers at Burger King cooked up a whopper of a plan. Staging a fake robbery and arson in order to steal over $4000 dollars from the restaurant, 22-year-old night manager Lisa was bound with duct tape and shut into the walk-in cooler by her accomplice.

Unluckily for Lisa, the fire department didn’t show up until the morning, when she was found freezing and semi-conscious.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

She later died in hospital from hypothermia. According to investigators, Lisa could have easily freed herself from her bindings and escaped the unlocked refrigerator, which is exactly why she makes the list.

15. Tiger Toy

Playing with your food is an unattractive habit, but some creatures just can’t help it. A mugger in South Africa found this out the hard way after robbing a couple at knifepoint. The mugger fled the scene and clambered over a nearby fence.

Darwin Awards Winners tiger fence

What he’d forgotten was that he was at Bloemfontein Zoo, and the fences were there for a reason. Suddenly, an ambush of bored Bengal tigers was upon him, and he quickly became their new plaything.

After the body was found, a zoo spokesperson said the tigers had been fed the previous afternoon, otherwise there would have been nothing left.

Darwin Awards Winners tiger fence

14. A Head for Chemistry

In the age of pipe blockages and fatbergs, we should know by now not to mess with the sewers. In 2008, a biology teacher from Sofia, Bulgaria, was driving home with two friends. Bystanders saw her car come to a sudden stop, and all three passengers got out and started pouring leftover jars of chemicals down a manhole.

Darwin Awards Winners chemical waste sewage pipe

These noxious chemicals included diethyl ether and methanol, both highly flammable liquids. The cocktail of chemicals in the enclosed space of the sewers caused an explosion so powerful that the manhole cover was launched into the air, instantly decapitating the polluting teacher. The moral of the story? Don’t mess with chemicals, or you could lose your head.

13. Flaming Rodeo

In Washington in 2010, during the American Sprint Car Series, two crew members dreamt up an insane thrill ride. They poured 4 gallons of methanol into a 55-gallon barrel, sat on the barrel, and then lit the bunghole. These two bright sparks thought the barrel would shoot across the parking lot like a rocket, in some kind of fiery rodeo.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

What they’d actually created was a makeshift bomb, which quickly blew them sky high. Both men ended up in a hospital, and one of them died.

12. Suddenly Sluggish

Most people wouldn’t have the guts to eat a slug, turns out this guy didn’t either. A young rugby player called Sam from Sydney, Australia was at a party in 2010 when the slug sped across the table. His friends dared him to eat it, and he did.

Darwin Awards Winners eating slug rat lungworm

Not long afterwards, Sam contracted a rat lungworm, which is a parasitic worm spread by rodents. The parasite infested Sam’s brain, putting him in a coma and leaving him paralyzed. Several years later, he died as a result of this prank gone wrong. Seriously: don’t eat slugs.

11. Headless Chickens

In 1997, a group of co-workers in Holland were on a tour bus, and some of the bolder employees stuck their heads out of the windows to enjoy the air. You think you’d notice a tunnel approaching down the road, but two men kept their heads out as the bus entered a viaduct, and by this point, it was too late.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

The two men were not decapitated, but suffered severe head trauma and snapped necks, killing them both instantly. Way to ruin the field trip, guys.

10. Fatal Footsie

We’ve all heard stories of idiots playing Russian Roulette, but this one tops them all. In 1999, Cambodia was littered with all kinds of discarded weaponry after decades of armed conflict.

In a place called Svay Rieng, three friends had spent the evening drinking. After hours of arguing, one of the men pulled out a 25-year-old unexploded anti-tank mine he’d found in his backyard.

Darwin Awards Winners Cambodia anti-tank mine game

The man then tossed it under the table, and the three men began taking turns to first drink, then stamp on the mine.

Other villagers fled in terror, and minutes later, an enormous explosion occurred, killing all three men. Perhaps the gene pool might have benefitted from this one, don’t you?

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

9. Domestic Disturbance

Arguing with your partner can be an emotional rollercoaster, but this man’s reaction was shocking. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1998, a man decided that the best way to win an argument with his wife was to pick her up and throw her off the balcony.

They were eight floors up, but bizarrely the woman became entangled in the power lines below.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

In what may have been an effort to save her - or finish her off -the man leapt from the balcony, aiming for the wires. The airborne abuser missed the wires completely, plunging to his death.

Somehow, his wife managed to swing to a nearby balcony and was subsequently rescued. You don't need to be Buddhist to believe that’s karma.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

8. Gaso-Clean

Keeping boxfresh trainers clean is a must, but this method might be going too far. In 1998, 67-year-old Texan Reiva Nix was washing her tennis shoes with gasoline, when the shoes were ignited by a nearby candle. Reiva had to run with flaming feet to her neighbor’s house, who quickly doused her feet with a hose.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

It was too late, however, and Reiva later died from her burns. The local sheriff warned others against using gasoline in this way, since it was apparently common practice. Well, that’s Texas for ya.

7. Considerate Car Thief

Some people have pretty twisted moral codes, but this car thief from Pittsburgh had a bit of logic to his larceny. Randy Nestor stole plenty of cars, and whenever a stolen vehicle became “hot”, he’d torch it, reasoning that the fire damage would help the owners collect on the insurance. Pretty thoughtful, right?

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

It turns out Randy was the victim of his own virtue when he set fire to a van that he was still inside. While trying to escape, Randy found that the driver’s side handle was broken, and the door locked. Randy burned up inside the van and was pretty much killed by his own kindness (and stupidity).

6. Floridian Pigeon

It seems that idiots are drawn to powerlines like moths to a flame. Here, the infamous “Florida Man” returns with a tale that would have Thomas Edison facepalming in his grave.

When Elian Garcia-Rivera’s pet pigeon decided to perch on a powerline, he thought the best way to dislodge his feathered friend would be to retrieve a 20-foot-long aluminum pool pole and jab it into the high-voltage wires.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

This Floridian only succeeded in turning himself into a human superconductor and was killed instantly. If only this Florida man had listened a little more in science class.

5. Time Zone Terrorists

Daylight savings time causes a lot of confusion but in this instance, it proved fatal. In 1999, Israel turned the clocks back a day early, but Palestinians refused to accept this “Zionist Time” – except for four terrorists who’d planned a bombing that day.

Their bombs were set to go off at 6.30 pm, but poor communication meant the would-be bombers were an hour behind schedule. The explosives detonated while the terrorists were en route, preventing any further disasters.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

4. Faithful Flotation

Anyone who says they haven’t taken a run at a pool with hopes of making it across is probably lying. So, when in 2016 a Zimbabwean pastor promised he would walk out into a river and rise above the water, his congregation were intrigued. After fasting for a week, the pastor waded 30 meters into a river known as the “Crocodile River”.

You think the name might have put him off, but no. Pastor Jonathan was devoured by three hungry crocodiles before he even had the chance to perform his miracle. So much for divine intervention.

Darwin Awards Winners Pastor Jonathan Crocodile River

3. Peeping Tom

People love to catch a glimpse of something they’re not supposed to see, like the following Calgary man who died in a shopping mall. Though his motives were unknown, it’s pretty obvious what this guy was up to when he climbed through a vent in order to access the area behind a wall in the women’s bathrooms.

The man became trapped there and was found dead three days later. Police have not revealed the cause of death, but it’s safe to say this Peeping Tom got a little more excitement than he bargained for.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

2. Just Buy a Ticket

There are smart ways to save money, and there are dumb ways to save money. And then there’s this guy. Mr Zhang was visiting Ningbo Younger Zoo in China with his family when he realized he couldn’t afford the $20 to buy a ticket for himself.

So he doubled back and decided to scale the fence in order to access the zoo. After a successful climb, Mr Zhang landed in the tiger enclosure, and was set up by a trio of tigers, who quickly ripped him to pieces. I guess he paid the price after all.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 2]

1. Stings in the Tail

The Asian giant hornet is the world’s biggest hornet, and it’s the stuff of nightmares. Large, aggressive, and venomous, a swarm of these insects can kill a human – and they do: around 40 people are killed in Japan each year by hornet stings.

So the last thing you should do is bug them. In a hilarious-yet-shocking video, a Chinese man is shown dancing with a hornet’s nest and throwing it about after removing it. If you want to elicit stings from dangerous flying creatures, tearing their house down and juggling with them is a sure way to do it.

Even with his protective suit, the man suffers multiple stings, and is later shown being carried off on a stretcher, his body stiff and full of venom. He probably needed a better suit.

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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