Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.

2001 Darwin Awards

Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it in the most spectacular way possible.

Killing Time
2001 Darwin Award Winner
Unconfirmed by Darwin

(2001, Scotland) Electric trains in Glasgow collect power from the overhead cable, and transmit any excess through the rails to a solid copper cable that routes it to a power redistribution box.

Copper is a favorite target for thieves. One enterprising fellow with a good knowledge of the electrical system planned to cut the copper cable during the time between trains, when no electricity was travelling through it. His plan might have worked... but for one small flaw.

In the pocket of his charred overcoat, police found an out-of-date rail timetable. The train arrived ten minutes before he thought it would, sending hundreds of volts of electricity through the thief's hacksaw and into his body, and putting an untimely end to his career.

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Submitted by: Sam Daly

Plausible? You tell me!

Aodhan lives in Glasgow, and heard the story a bit differently. "My cousin works at the hospital where the post mortem was done. The man had been told that using a saw with a rubber grip would protect him from electricity..."

"This story contains an inaccuracy about electric railroads. The overhead catenary is like one prong of a plug, with the rails acting as the other prong. An electric train completes the circuit by drawing current from the overhead and the rails. Electricity is only 'returned' from trains when they are equipped with regenerative braking, which turns the electric locomotive into a generator when slowing the the train going downhill." -Henry

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