Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.
2002 Urban Legends

The following stories are apocryphal. They are included on the Darwin Awards website because they are inspirational narratives of the astounding efforts of legendary Darwin Awards contenders. Next Prev Random

Drop of a Hat
2002 Urban Legend

(Early 2002, Kansas) Just outside of Wichita, a 21-year old farm boy was driving a grain harvester across his winter wheat field to collect the crop. This particular piece of farm equipment has huge rotating blades that cut down the wheat stalks. At some point during the harvesting, the driver's cowboy hat was blown off by the wind and hurtled some distance in front of the blades.

Thinking that the tractor was not moving fast enough to warrant stopping -- or perhaps just not thinking at all -- he jumped down and ran in front of the tractor to collect his hat. It was still being blown around by the wind, and after chasing it for a bit, he finally caught up with it. Meanwhile, the harvester had caught up with him, and his body was found scattered across the wheat field.

Local authorities were contacted by a neighbor who noticed the tractor crossing Highway 96 with no driver. © 1994 - 2020
Submitted by: Jeff
Reference: Wichita Eagle, Argonia Farm Chronicles

Darwin says, "This was originally classified as an Unconfirmed Darwin Award, but I suspected that it might be an attempt to pass off a creative writing effort as a true Darwin Award. But the story and its documentation were too well done to resist, and I was hoping that additional confirmation would appear. Sadly, only the disheartening remarks shown below were brought to bear on the subject. It was sadly relegated to Urban Legend status on 13 October 2003."

Lauren says, "This sounds too familiar. I saw a movie a long time ago that had that exact scenario: teenage boy collecting the crops, his hat blows off, he jumps down to get it and his shirt gets caught in the blades. It seems to me that someone is trying to pass it off as a Darwin award now."

Chad says, "Unless combines have undergone drastic design changes since I worked on a farm 12 years ago, they don't use 'huge rotating blades.' They all use a sickle bar cutter that is anywhere from 8 to 12 feet wide, with 2 to 3 inch wide blades that slide back and forth horizontally. The 'huge rotating' part of a combine is actually just a set of paddles that sweep the heads of the grain down and back into the collecting bin."

Doug Duncan says, "I emailed the EMS office in Argonia, Kansas, in Sumner County. Anderson Lowe, the director of Emergency Services, told me there is no such publication as the Argonia Farm Chronicles, and that according to his records no such event occurred this year or any year since 1969."

Anderson Lowe says, "The story is not true. I am the Director of Emergency services for the area mentioned and no call like this was ever made this year or any in the past since 1969 according to records. The referance to the paper Argonia Farm Chronicles is inaccurate as this paper doesnt even exist. I have gotten several emails from your readers aslking if this was true."

Jerrald W. Boden says, "As a lifetime resident of Kansas in the greater Wichita area, I am familiar with the wheat harvest and I can assure you that at the very least the time frame for this story is way off. "Winter wheat" is planted in late fall, grows through the winter, and ripens in June. Wheat harvest begins in the summer, not 'early in the year'. Wheat is harvested with a combine, not a tractor, the vast majority of which have enclosed (and air conditioned) cabs. I can assure you that no farmer would leave the cab of a piece of machinery costing hundreds of thousands of dollars while that machine was still in motion. I certainly don't recall seeing anything in the newspaper, or on television, regarding such a sensational fatal farm accident -- an occurance which would surely be considered as news worthy here. Sorry but this story is as bogus as it can be."

Jim says, "How would we know he got off to get his hat, unless someone saw it? And no one did, because it was not until a neighbour saw the unattended harvester that anyone knew. The hat would either be as munched as the rest of him, or it would have blown away."

Hollie Gaze says, "This was a scene from a movie which 'Lauren' mentions above. The movie was called 'Man in the Moon' and it is very likely this is a rip off from it. Never did like that movie, now I have another reason why. "

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