Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.

2002 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.

Jet Taxi
2002 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin

(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
Reference: Reuters

Valter 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 car!"

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 deserved."

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