Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.

2008 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.

Into the Abyss
2008 Darwin Award Winner
Unconfirmed by Darwin

An enterprising lumberman had felled a large tree, and needed to haul it up a steep embankment. So he jacked up the rear end of his pickup and swapped one of the rear tires for a bare rim. He attached one end of a rope to the rim, and the other end of the rope to the felled tree. He put the pickup into gear, expecting the rim to act as a makeshift rope crank that would pull the tree up the embankment, saving him lots of sweat.

A great idea? Not if you're reading it here! You see, the tree vastly outweighed the truck. The man was standing with one foot on the ground and the other foot on the accelerator. When he gunned the engine, the tree acted like an anchor, and the truck yanked itself backwards. The open door rammed into him, and he was swept over the embankment along with the pickup.

When the dust settled, our lumberman had entered the great beyond. But his escapade served as a warning to others. The next lumberman cut up the tree where it lay, and carried it off.


Reader Malcolm points out, "Unless the truck had a differential lock this could not happen. The differential gearing on the rear axle would spin the other wheel but not the one with the load. It's the same when you put one rear wheel in a ditch. If that wheel has no grip, power does not go to the wheel still on the road. Agricultural and off-road vehicles have differential lock, but there is no mention here."

Reader Daniel says, " Could this only happen if the truck had a locking differential? Not necessarily. If the lumberman had only jacked up one wheel, and not the whole rear end, the other rear wheel would be held in place by contact with the ground, allowing the one with the rope enough force to pull hard on the rope"

Discuss Differentials in the Philosophy Forum. © 1994 - 2022
Reference: Another brilliant submission from the files of a 30-year veteran of the ER, who says, "You cannot make this up!"

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