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!

Parrot Hunter
1999 At-Risk Survivor
Confirmed True by Darwin

(10 April 1999, Florida) Damion, 18, wanted a unique gift for his girlfriend, who worked as a babysitter for a neighbor's children. The neighbor thought that a Quaker parrot would be a perfect present. The beautiful green birds with gray bellies grow a foot long, counting their tails, and are worth over $100. That was expensive, but the neighbor figured they could get a baby parrot for free... if they caught it.

Nothing stirs man's blood like the thrill of the hunt. Armed with a long metal pole, Damion set out with the neighbor and his 15-year-old son to reconnoiter the nesting spot of the elusive Quaker parrot. The intrepid trio may have overlooked the fact that they were trespassing on private property, and that the property was owned by Florida Power. But it is unlikely that they failed to notice that the nests in question were inside a 6-foot fence topped with three rows of barbed wire, surrounding an electric substation. This 230,000-volt transformer was peppered with signs saying, "Danger High Voltage," and "No Trespassing."

The hunters overcame those obstacles and entered the parrot sanctuary where about 60 colorful birds fluttered around their large, multi-story stick nests. Fortunately one of the nests was situated on a transformer low enough to interest a hunter with a seven-foot metal pole. Damion poked at the nest hoping to dislodge a hatchling, and 15,000 volts of electricity found their way down the pole, through his body, and into the ground.

Damion suffered second- and third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body. The neighbor suffered minor burns between his ankles and knees. His son was not injured.

"That's just a little hobby they have," said the neighbor's wife. "They like to go looking for those little baby Quaker parrots. I'm not saying (they were) right, but this was an accident." And all this came from an innocent question about a birthday present at a Saturday hamburger cookout!

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Submitted by: Roy Owings
Reference: St. Petersburg Times

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