The Darwin Awards - Top worst Death Stories List
There will always be an element of risk involved in action sports.
It's part of the thrill, doing something difficult and/or dangerous and coming away unscathed. And anyway, if you have a reasonable amount of common sense, you can keep the risks to a minimum.
Unfortunately however, it seems that some thrill-seekers lack even the tiniest amount of common sense. And it's when you get really stupid people doing dangerous sports that things go wrong. Really wrong.
These ill-fated idiots' all featured in the Darwin Awards. The 'award' is famously given out each year for the most stupid death, rewarding the person's willingness to "remove themselves from the human gene pool," and all entries are verified.
So as unbelievable as they might sound, all of these stories are sadly true...
1) The Ski Resort Sledge Thief
In 2008 46-year-old David Monk was on holiday in Sauze D'Oulx, Italy, with a group of friends.
After having a few beers one evening, the lads decided to steal a protective mat that covered the metal barriers at the bottom of the slope and use it as a sledge.
They hiked up the hill, hurled themselves down it, and promptly slammed straight into the very same barrier they'd stolen the protective matting from.
David died on the spot, earning himself a Darwin award in the process.
"He was a brilliant guy," David's friend Alan MacGregor told the Daily Mail. We're not sure "brilliant" is the word we would've chosen...
2) The Mid-Mountain Road Bailout
In 2001, a story appeared in the South Idaho Press detailing the death of a man named Marco, who had been driving a van full of friends back from a day on the mountain when his brakes failed.
In a truly heroic manoeuvre, Marco leapt from the moving vehicle before it careered off a cliff edge - without telling anyone else about the brake problem first.
Thankfully one of the other passengers stepped in to save the day, managing to bring the van to a halt.
They then walked back up the hill to find that Marco had fatally miscalculated his cowardly leap to safety and hit his head on the pavement, killing himself. No-one else was injured.
3) The Brainless Bungee Jumper
In 1997, Police in Reston, Virginia, issued a statement saying they had found the body of 22-year-old Eric Barcia, who had apparently died attempting to bungee jump off a 70 foot bridge.
Eschewing commercial bungee operations, Eric had apparently taken matters into his own hands and tied several bungee cords together.
"Eric had apparently taken matters into his own hands and tied several bungee cords together"
He strapped himself on securely, tied the other end to the bridge, and jumped, confident in the knowledge that he'd carefully measured out the bungee's total length - just under 70 foot.
Of course, what Eric had forgotten was that bungee cords stretch...
4) The Luckless Sledneck
"Ordinarily a man killed by an avalanche is suffering from a natural disaster, and not eligible for a Darwin Award," says the awards website.
"But the circumstances surrounding the death of Walter, a 43-year-old Fairbanks man, are unusual enough to warrant an exception. He was killed not by a natural disaster, but by his own blatant stupidity."
Walter's nomination for the 2000 awards came after he was "highmarking" on his snowmobile. This almost entirely pointless exercise involves driving as far as you can up a pristine slope before the sled gets stuck, and then bombing back down again.
State Troopers had warned that conditions meant avalanches were likely. Earlier in the day Walter had in fact triggered an avalanche and been buried up to his waist.
Any normal person might be shaken up by this, or at the very least take it as a sign that they should stop. But this committed sledneck kept right on revving up and down the hillside until he triggered a second, bigger avalanche which swept down and killed him.
5) The Utah Para-Plunger
In 1999 a paraglider named Craig from Riverton in Utah decided he'd try out a new, soft way of landing, and splash down in a canal.
The first part went swimmingly, with Craig executing a perfect landing.
Unfortunately the swimming part didn't go quite so well. Craig's parachute filled with water, dragged him downstream and drowned him.
6) The Amateur Cliff Diver
Alongside Craig the paraglider in the 1999 Darwin Awards nominations was a 27-year-old who met his untimely demise at Skrinkle Haven in Wales.
In an apparent attempt to impress a group of teenage boys, the man (who's name the Darwin Awards don't reveal) dove off an 80-foot cliff into the water.
If done properly, an 80-foot cliff dive shouldn't be fatal, but it appears the man had zero prior experience of high-diving.
He was knocked unconscious by the water, and although the teenagers climbed down and fished him out, he was proclaimed dead on arrival at the hospital. Needless to say the teenagers weren't impressed by the stunt.
7) The Kite Surfer Who Took Flight
The 2007 Darwin Awards featured a nomination for a particularly intrepid kitesurfing Spaniard.
As hurricane-strength winds swept through the south, sensible Spaniards up and down the coast battened down the hatches and prepared to sit out the storm.
Our 40-year-old hero had other ideas however. Seeing the reports of high winds and huge waves, he decided to defy the ban imposed on going into the water.
He grabbed his balls, strapped into his board and unfurled his kite.
His body was found more than a kilometre away from the sea, having been dragged by the winds and slammed against several buildings along the way.
8) The Niagara Falls Jet Ski Jumper
In 1995, a particularly daring daredevil named Robert decided to attempt something no-one had ever done before - ride his jetski off Niagara Falls.
Now that might sound completely stupid, but Robert had done some planning. He'd fitted his jetski with a rocket booster and was carrying a parachute.
The idea was to fire the booster as he hit the falls, opening the parachute at the apex of his flight and drifting down to safety in the water below.
"The idea was to fire the booster as he hit the falls"
Unfortunately Robert had failed to factor in one crucial element - the fact that water makes things wet.
As he hurtled towards the falls and pressed the button, his utterly-soaked rocket booster failed to ignite. Plummeting off the edge, he tried his parachute, but it wasn't water-proof either and failed to deploy.
9) The Amateur Electrician
In 1999, jetskiing featured in the Darwin Awards once more. This time the hapless individual was a man named Rodney, who was happily doing laps of Lake Washington when he realised his battery was running a bit low.
Pulling up toward the shore he moored his jetski and ran to get a set of jump leads. He plugged the ends into a 110 volt outlet and ran down to the water's edge carrying the crocodile clips.
Unfortunately he didn't stop at the edge, and plunged straight in, electrocuting himself instantly.
His body was apparently found floating under the dock later that evening.
10) The Pissed-Up Parkour Star
In 2002 a group of lads from Maidenhead, inspired by what they'd seen of Paris' Parkour scene, decided to give free-running a go.
Things started well for Marc and his mates. They found a gap between two multi-story carparks with a 40-foot drop below and after a taking a good long run-up, Marc managed to clear it.
Chuffed with his achievement, he headed to the pub with his pals. On their way home they passed the car park again and it was then that things started to go wrong.
Full of the Dutch courage that comes from a couple of pints, Marc threw himself at the gap again but lost his balance on the far side and fell 40 foot onto solid concrete. No amount of alcohol could've cushioned that blow.
Honourable Mention: The Snake Charmer
OK so this has nothing to do with action sports, but we couldn't resist including it. It's possibly the stupidest tale of macho thrill-seeking we've ever heard.
In 1997, according to the Darwin Awards, Wayne Roth of Pittston, Pennsylvania, was bitten by a cobra belonging to his friend Roger after reaching into the tank to pick the poisonous snake up.
"I don't need to go to hospital" Wayne apparently told Roger. "I'm a man. I can handle it."
Instead, on Wayne's suggestion, the pair headed to a pub instead. There he proved what a man he was by sinking several pints, boasting about the bite, and promptly dying about an hour later.
Cobra venom is, it seems, a slow-acting toxin which takes several hours to attack the central nervous system.
What a guy.