The Darwin Awards

2009 Darwin Awards

Next Prev Random 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.

Dynamite Rancher
2009 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin

(8 May 2009, Utah) 59-year-old Brent L. found a stash of dynamite in a shed on his 5000-acre ranch three miles south of the ATK Thiokol testing area, where booster rockets for the space shuttle are designed. Details about this stash are scarce. Did it belong to the rancher, was it hidden by thieves, is it more than coincidence that the ranch is close to Thiokol Ground Zero? Chief Deputy Kevin Potter said, "Whether the dynamite was his or whatever, that's yet to be determined."

Whatever its origins, the rancher found the dynamite and he was alarmed. He had good reason to be. Old dynamite starts to "sweat" nitroglycerine, and once it starts sweating, it is very unstable and can pop anytime. This well-known fact was surely known by the rancher. But the dynamite was not an old, sweating pile of unstableness. This stash of flash was something he felt he could deal with on his own.

Concerned for his family's safety--but not his own--the rancher removed the dynamite from the shed, placed it in a field of knee-high grass, backed away about forty yards and fired a shotgun at it. The dynamite blew up and shrapnel hit the rancher in the head. The man was air-lifted to the hospital, where he passed away.

The Box County Sheriff's office refused to confirm the circumstances, saying they were "still looking into it" and the dynamite exploded "for some reason." But the first medical teams on the scene reported that the man shot the dynamite from 40 yards. I am inclined to believe them because it would be obvious where the rancher was standing in relation to the explosion--whether he was 40 yards away, or holding a stick of unstable, sweating dynamite--and besides, either which way, the man oughtn'ta.

References: The Deseret News, The Tremonton Leader,

Reader Comments:

"I think someone has been watching too many TV shows!"

"I wonder what gets into a guys head to make him shoot at a high explosive.... I guess the answer is shrapnel."

Gun, explosion, dynamite.


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Submitted by: Aaron Poole , Susan Gray
Reference: Ogden Standard Examiner,

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