Don?t try these at home... or anywhere

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


It?s been a hot, humid July. Not telling you something you don?t already know, right?

Through my travels around the area, I?ve heard a lot of complaining about the weather from the same people who will be grousing about the weather in January.

Count me out of the summer weather complaint department. In years past, I said I lived for summer and while there remains some truth to that claim, as I approach the golden years, spring and fall rank right up there with summer. Winter, well that?s another story. Admittedly, I?m a winter complainer. Consequently, I bite my tongue during the heat and humidity in the summer. You can?t have it both ways.

That being said, it?s time for a little relief from Mother Nature. I?m talking about comic relief. Every couple of years or so, I share the Darwin Awards with readers. The Darwin Awards are named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution. The awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it. So here goes some of the best from recent years.

? Crispy Copper Fries ? The mummified remains of a man discovered in a Tucson, Ariz., manhole tell their own poignant story. The manhole was opened to investigate a fluctuation in electrical power.

According to records kept by Tucson Electric Power, the manhole had not been opened in the past five years, so the team that entered the underground high-voltage vault were quite surprised to find the decayed remains of a man slumped near cut copper wires. In his shriveled hand was ? can you guess? ? a bolt cutter.

An autopsy confirmed the obvious conclusion that electrocution was the likely cause of death. The date of death was set at somewhere between one and two years before its discovery.

? Soaked to the bone in Yellowstone ? Colin Scott, 23, was enjoying a graduation vacation at Yellowstone National Park when the beautiful Porkchop Geyser hot spring reminded them that he could use a good soak! But ?hot-potting? is a forbidden delight, ruled off limits for good reason: death.

Still, this was a college graduation trip. The Portland, Ore., resident thought his education conferred the smarts to know when to break a rule. So Scott left the boardwalk and cruised up a hill in search of a private hot-pot soaking spot. In this area of the park, thin mineral crusts that resemble solid ground conceal scalding water pools. But he avoided these unseen pitfalls and found a secluded spring.

Recorded on unreleased video, Scott is seen reaching down to check the temperature, slipping and falling into the boiling acidic water. That was the beginning of the end.

Chemistry students will be familiar with the properties of a turbulent hot acid solution. A significant amount of rapid dissolving was underway while recovery workers were struggling with dangerously unstable ground and a lightning storm. When they reached the spring the next day, the water had finished its work. There were no remains remaining.

? Double Darwin ? Ohio insurance fraud is more difficult than it appears. Just ask Musa and his son, Essa, who hired an arsonist to burn down their Steak Thyme sub shop so they could collect the insurance money. They promised the arsonist a $60,000 a year job, although where he would work once the shop was in ashes is unknown.

Three times the arsonist tried, and failed, to destroy the sandwich shop. Whether it was a Molotov cocktail thrown through the window, or chairs doused with gasoline and set ablaze, the result was the same ? minor damage. The neighborhood was up in arms over the apparent ?hate crimes? repeatedly being committed against the two Jordanian immigrants.

Musa grew tired of throwing good money after bad. This was getting him nowhere. For the fourth arson attempt, only 12 hours after the flaming chairs fizzled, he and his son tried to help spread gasoline around their eatery.

Tragically, they had more talent for arson than the amateur arsonist. They took a cigarette break. One flick of a lighter later, a gas explosion took out one wall and burned both men so severely that, despite several weeks of hospitalized care, the men died.

? Modern armor ? Darren?s death was a mystery. The 33-year-old man was found slumped in the hallway of his house, bleeding from stab wounds to his chest. Police initially assumed that an assailant had attacked him but could not find supporting evidence.

A year later, the ?real? story emerged. Darren had called a friend, but minutes after he hung up, rang back to ask for an ambulance. The front door was ajar and Darren was found lying near a bloodstained lock-knife that he had purchased while on holiday in Spain. Forensics investigators saw no indication of a struggle, and the coroner reported that the stab wounds seemed to be self-inflicted. However, Darren had shown no suicidal tendencies.

His wife, who was on holiday at the time of the incident, cleared up the mystery. As she was leaving for the holiday, she remembered Darren wondering whether his new jacket was ?stab proof.?

That?s correct. Darren decided to find out if his jacket could withstand a knife attack. Did he choose to test his jacket while it was draped over the back of a chair? No, Darren thought the best approach would be to wear the garment and stab himself. Sadly, his choice of armor proved less resistant to a sharp blade than he had hoped.