1998 DARWIN AWARD nominations:The Darwin Awards are annually bestowed upon (the remains of) individuals who have given their all in an effort to improve our gene pool. The Darwin Awards applaud those who have made the ultimate sacrifice of killing themselves by the most extraordinarily stupid means. The Awards commemorate those who find innovatively moronic ways of killing themselves, thereby helping to eliminate undesirable weaknesses from the human gene pool. GRAVITY KILLS … A 22-year-old Reston man was found dead yesterday after he tried to use occy straps (the stretchy little ropes with hooks on each end) to bungee jump off a 70-foot railroad trestle, police said. Fairfax County (Virginia) police said Eric A. Barcia, a fast-food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together, wrapped an end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake Accotink Park, jumped … and hit the pavement. Warren Carmichael, a police spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found nearby.”The length of the cord that he had assembled was greater than the distance between the trestle and the ground,” Carmichael said. Police say the apparent cause of death was ”major trauma.” An autopsy is scheduled for later in the week. LAUNCHED ON THE FOURTH OF JULY … Three young men in Oklahoma were enjoying the coming fourth of July holiday and wanted to apparently test fire some fireworks. Their only real problem was that their launch pad and seating arrangements were atop a several – hundred – thousand -gallon fuel distillation storage tank. Oddly enough, some fumes were ignited, producing a fireball seen for miles and miles. They were launched, no doubt, countless thousands of feet into the air and were found dead 250 yards from their respective seats. DON’T ASK GOD TO PROVE HIMSELF, HE JUST MIGHT … A lawyer and two of his buddies were fishing on Caddo Lake in Texas. A lightning storm hit the lake and most of the fisherman immediately headed for the shore. But not our friend the lawyer. He was alone on the rear of his aluminum bass boat and his buddies were in the front. This gentleman stood up, spread his arms wide (crucifixion style) and shouted: ”HERE I AM LORD, LET ME HAVE IT!” Needless to say, God delivered [well, wouldn’t you?]. The other two passengers on the boat survived and are said to have immediately joined the Ministry. CATCH! … A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. Big deal, you may say, but there’s a twist here that makes him a Darwin Award candidate. It seems he and a friend were playing catch with a rattlesnake. You can guess what happened from here. The friend (a future Darwin Award candidate) was hospitalized. THEY SAY THOSE THINGS WILL KILL YOU … Not much was given to me on this unlucky fellow, but he qualifies nonetheless. You see, there was a gentleman from Korea who was killed by his cell phone, more or less. He was doing the usual ”walking and talking” when he walked into a tree and managed to somehow break his neck. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to drive and dial at the same time. GIMME A LIGHT! … In a west Texas town, employees in a medium-sized warehouse noticed the smell of a gas leak. Sensibly, management evacuated the building, extinguishing all potential sources of ignition -lights, power, etc.After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked. Witnesses later described the vision of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket, and retrieving an object that resembled a lighter. Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away. Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician that was suspected of causing the explosion had never been thought of as ”bright” by his peers. And………………. The first candidates for the 1999 Darwin Awards have been nominated.And so, without further ado, the first candidates for ’99: MAN DIES IN FREAK ACCIDENT CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.A 39-year-old Charlottesville man died Thursday in a freak accident involving his washing machine. According to police reports, Samuel Randolph Strickson was doing laundry when he tried to speed up the process. Strickson apparently tried to stuff approximately 50 pounds of laundry into his washing machine by climbing on top of the washer and attempting to force the clothing into the basin. Strickson then apparently accidentally kicked the washing machine’s ON button. When the machine turned on, Strickson lost his balance and both feet went down into the machine, where they got stuck. The machine started its cycle, and Strickson, unable to free himself, started thrashing around as the machine’s agitator went into gear. Strickson’s head banged against a nearby shelf in the laundry room, knocking over a bottle of bleach, which poured over Strickson’s face, blinding him. Forensic reports say Strickson apparently also swallowed some of the bleach. He then vomited, but was still unable to free himself. Strickson’s dog, then apparently came into the laundry room. At about the sametime, according to police, a large box of baking soda fell from the shelf, startling the dog, who then urinated. Urine, like vinegar, is acidic, and the chemical reaction between the urine and the baking soda resulted in ”a small explosion,” according to police reports. The dog, however, escaped unharmed. Strickson remained stuck in the washing machine, which eventually went into its high speed spin cycle, spinning Strickson around at about 70 miles per hour, according to forensic experts. Strickson’s head then smashed against a steel beam behind the washing machine, immediately killing him. A neighbor heard the commotion and called 911, but Strickson was pronounced dead at the scene. More nominees………….. (AP) LOS ANGELES – Police officials would not release the name of a Pacoima man who was found dead yesterday after responding to complaints from neighbors that a bad smell was coming from his apartment.Upon entering the apartment, officers were surprised to see that every square inch of the apartment, including appliances and even the inside of the toilet, were covered with pornographic images cut from magazines. ”The visual effect was very unsettling,” said Officer Hradj of the Pacoima Police. ”Because everything looked the same, you could not tell where one wall ended and a doorway began.” The surprises did not end there, however. Police described the manas having ”concocted a wire frame around his head” upon which he had taped various pornographic images, apparently so he could freely move about his apartment without ever losing his clasp view of nude bodies. Small slits had been cut into the paper so he could find his way, but according to Hradj, ”He had almost no peripheral vision. He could barely see a thing.” The man was found nude with this wire frame entangled in a hanging lamp. ”We think he had been dusting,” said another police officer, ”because a feather duster was lying nearby, and his head gear had somehow become caught in the lamp, which was chained to the ceiling.” The man allegedly choked to death trying to extricate himself from his predicament. According to his apartment manager, the white male in his mid-30’s never left his apartment, and had food delivered weekly.Funeral services are planned for next week. His next of kin requested that his name be withheld. FROM THE FROZEN NORTH COUNTRY: A young Inuit man, searching for a way of getting drunk cheaply because he had no money to buy alcohol, mixed gasoline with milk.Not surprisingly, this concoction made him ill, and he vomited into the fireplace in his house. The resulting explosion and fire burned his house down, killing both him and his sister.