The Darwin Awards

1999 At-Risk Survivor

At-Risk Survivors have misadventures that stop short of the ultimate sacrifice. Nevertheless we salute the spirit of their colossal blunders with an Honorable Mention. Better luck next time!

House Hunting Gone Awry
1999 At-Risk Survivor
Unconfirmed by Darwin<

(February 1995) Several men were contracted to move a house about 500 yards, a short distance. Unfortunately they had to move it under several power lines that were the same height as the house. These quick-thinking men decided that one worker would ride on top of the house, and use a board to lift the power lines over. Since the house was only travelling a short distance, and at a low speed, this plan seemed to be foolproof.

As you might guess, as soon as the damp pine board came in contact with the 7200-Volt power line, he was thrown from the top of the house. A co-worker quickly extinguished his burning shirt and called for an ambulance.

The injured employee was hospitalized with third and fourth degree burns to eight percent of his body. All of these idiots survived, and nobody can be nominated for a Darwin Award. © 1994 - 2012

Submitted by: Anonymous

Reference: OSHA at © 1994 - 2004

Rebuttal by Matt Schants 07/1999:
"As a paramedic and part-time licensed electrician, it is my duty to inform you of gross errors that make this story impossible. It is my opinion that someone is trying to jerk your chain. There is no such thing as a "fourth degree" burn. The worst is third degree, where skin, muscle, and nerves are destroyed. A fourth degree burn would require a broom and dust pan to sweep up the victim's remains. Furthermore, main transmission lines (i.e. 7200 volt lines) are a minimum of 25 feet above the street, to avoid contact with 13' high trucks and mobile homes. Therefore, the house would be at least a story-and-half model. Not exactly the kind a few buddies moves on thier own, regardless of how far it needs to go. And finally, moving a house requires disconecting the utilities, and the electric and gas company are required to be present. They would have had any "low" wires insulated and raised along the route, as well as ensured that personnel were present to disconnect them should it become necessary.

Rebuttal Rebuttal by Eric Soencksen 3/2000:
Despite Matt Schants' assertion, there is indeed such a thing as a fourth degree burn. Look at

  • First degree burn: Damage is limited to the epidemics, causing erythema (redness) and pain.
  • Second degree burn: The epidemis and part of the dermis are damaged, producing blisters and mild to moderate edema and pain.
  • Third degree burn: The epidemis and dermis are damaged. No blisters appear, but white, brown, or black tissue and thrombosed vessels are visible.
  • Fourth degree burn: Damage extends through deeply charred subcutaneous tissue to muscle and bone.

Rebuttal Rebuttal Rebuttal by Sean Worley 7/2000:
I have to side with Matt Schants on the issue. Visit the website which details only three types of burns: First-degree (the outer layer of the skin, or epidermis) and second-degree (damage the first and second layer of the skin, or dermis and third-degree (damage the skin and underlying tissues.) Third degree often requires skin grafting surgery to replace the skin."

Rebuttal Rebuttal Rebuttal Rebuttal by Jerry 1/2003:
"Contrary to two of the rebuttals, there is a such thing as a fourth degree burn, in which the burn extends through the muscles and down to the bones of the victim(s). Don't believe me? Go HERE."

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