The Darwin Awards

1999 At-Risk Survivor

Next Prev Random 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!

Caulker Burner
1999 At-Risk Survivor
Unconfirmed by Darwin

(1999, Scotland) The shipyard at Port Glasgow used a plasma cutter to cut steel for boats according to plans. For smaller holes, the plasma torch would just cut out the hole. But for larger holes, it was programmed to leave sections of uncut steel to make sure that no one could accidentally fall through.

Once the steelwork had been positioned on the ship, a caulker burner would use an oxy-acetylene blowtorch to burn through the six-inch sections, thereby creating the properly-sized hole in the steel.

Enter our hero. Crawford was a caulker burner, and he had been tasked with the job of going onto the ship and cutting away these sections. The piece in question had been designed to allow a large exhaust pipe to come through the deck.

Crawford began his task of burning away the steel. But Crawford had decided to stand in the middle of the hole he was burning out, which lead to a rather nasty fifteen-foot fall onto scaffolding below. He escaped with a few broken ribs and a month off work. Luckily for him, neither the blowtorch nor the large steel plate fell on top of him, therefore denying him a gloriously well-deserved Darwin Award.

Darwin asks, "I already have two confirmations. Can anyone else confirm this?"


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Reference: Greenock Telegraph and an anonymous eyewitness account of a 12-year veteran of the shipyards.

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