(30 January 2002, Brazil) Airport taxi drivers frequently hear the announcement, "The white zone is for loading and unloading of passengers only." But Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro may need to add a new phrase: "The runway is for take-off and landing of airplanes only."
"The signs that tell you to stop when the plane is on the runway are practically invisible," said the director of the local taxi cooperative. Apparently a Boeing 737 preparing for takeoff was equally invisible to one 64-year-old taxi driver, who sped onto the runway after dropping off his fare. He was right behind the jet when it revved its engines in preparation for a 140-mph takeoff.
Local aviation experts say the force of the 737's jets is comparable to a hurricane, but, we assume, much hotter. The taxi was spun 25 meters through the air, hit the rocks at Guanabara Bay, and ejected its driver. The man's tip for the trip was a broken skull and thorax. He is presently in a coma.
Airport authorities cited driver error as the cause of the accident.
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Submitted by: David Rizzo
Hilden says, "The story leaves the taxi driver in
a coma. Based on this, he technically doesn't qualify for a
Darwin Award. But I can confirm that he actually died four
days later. I live in Rio de Janeiro and saw this story
(and the mangled taxi) in the local news. The taxi was not
on the runway itself; the airport is on a landfill between
the mainland and an island where the Brazilina Naval
Academy is located. The road crosses the landfill just
beyond the airport runway, and there is a traffic light
that turns red when an airplane lands or takes off. Two
weeks later another car was overturned there by another
jet. The two women in the car survived with minor
injuries. Perhaps a bulb is burned out in that traffic
light. Anyway, the taxi driver deserves a Darwin Award, if
not for crossing the red light, at least for not wearing
his safety belt and being ejected from an overturning
Valter adds later, "The Civilian Aviation
Department, the federal agency responsible for
investigating aviation accidents here, has published a
report concluding that the traffic light was working
perfectly, and the accident was caused by the taxi driver's
"imprudent action". Case closed: Darwin Award fully