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Darwin Awards
2002 Personal Accounts
Email a Friend The Darwin Awards salutes the spirit portrayed in the following personal accounts, submitted by loyal (and sometimes reluctant) readers. Next Prev Random

Chainsaw Slingshot
2002 Personal Account

(2001, Michigan) The following story was related to me during a session of injury one-upsmanship. A casual acquaintance related an adventure suffered by her husband.

A furious wind had knocked a susceptible tree limb across the electricity lines behind the house, and the line was bent into an alarming parabola.* Our hero Joe, not intimidated by the thought of combining live wires, wet fallen branches, aluminum ladders, and chainsaws, decided to remove the limb from the wire himself.

Enlisting the aid of a buddy, he balanced the ladder against the taut wire, climbed up, fired up the chainsaw, and carefully commenced cutting. Joe had almost managed to free the limb, and only one more cut was needed gefore the entire limb fell to the ground, releasing the wire.

*Parabola? Bill P. says, "I am virtually certain that the wire is not bent into a parabola. A wire supported at its two ends under the influence of only gravity describes a catenary. I suspect that the point load of the tree destroys the catenary, but until a geometrician gives you a better answer, I'd go with catenary rather than parabola."
Those who watch Road Runner cartoons know what happens when a tight wire is released. The final cut was made, the limb fell, and to Joe's mystified dismay, the wire sprang back to its original position.

The force lifted the ladder several feet into the air, along with its brave but surprised chainsaw-wielding occupant. The ladder slipped away, and Joe fell against the wire, knocking the chainsaw into his face, and missing his carotid artery by mere inches.

Our bleeding Darwin Award nominee managed to throw the chainsaw away from himself, preventing further injury from that source, but no amount of arm flapping could postpone his inevitable encounter with the ground.

Fortunately, Darwinian laws are not absolute, and Joe managed to survive with a only broken leg and some stitches. Hopefully, he was also left with the knowledge that what goes down must come up, and that some things that should be left to trained professionals -- even if you do own a ladder and a chainsaw.

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