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Fatal helium balloon prank secures 2006 Darwin Award

Out of the gene pool, into the hall of fame

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Two Florida adventurers who died after deciding it was a bright idea to climb inside a helium balloon have secured the 2006 Darwin Award - the ultimate accolade for those who have contributed to the "improvement of the human genome by accidentally removing themselves from it".

The full citation reads:

Two more candidates have thrown themselves into the running for a Darwin Award. The feet of Jason and Sara, both 21, were found protruding from a deflated, huge helium advertising balloon. Jason was a college student, and Sara attended community college, but apparently their education had glossed over the importance of oxygen.

When one breathes helium, the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream causes a rapid loss of consciousness. Some euthanasia experts advocate the use of helium to painlessly end one's life.

The pair pulled down the 8' balloon, and climbed inside. Their last words consisted of high-pitched, incoherent giggling as they slowly passed out and passed into the hereafter.

Sheriff's deputies said the two were not victims of foul play. No drugs or alcohol were found. The medical examiner reported that helium inhalation was a significant factor in their deaths. A family member said "Sara was mischievous, to be honest. She liked fun and it cost her."

Also honoured is the chap from Belize who, well, read on in wonder:

Benjamin Franklin reputedly flew his kite in a lightning storm, going on to discover that lightning equals electricity. However, certain precautions must be taken to avoid sudden electrocution. Kennon, 26, replicated the conditions of Ben Franklin's experiment, but without Ben's sensible safety precautions. Kennon was flying a kite with a short string that he had extended with a length of thin copper wire.

The copper made contact with a high-tension line, sending a bolt of electrical lightning towards the man. Just bad luck? Kennon's father told listeners his son was an electrician, and "should have known better." Kennon is survived by his parents, six sisters, and five brothers.

And finally, a round of applause for the Brazilian who "tried to disassemble a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) by driving back and forth over it with a car". The citation continues: "This technique was ineffective, so he escalated to pounding the RPG with a sledgehammer. The second try worked - in a sense. The explosion proved fatal to one man, six cars, and the repair shop wherein the efforts took place." ®

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