The Darwin Awards

2000 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!

The Party's Over
2000 At-Risk Survivor
Unconfirmed by Darwin

This was originally incorrectly categorized as an Urban Legend. This story has now been confirmed, and re-labeled an At-Risk Survivor. But for what it's worth, here's my amusing original reasoning:

Darwin scoffs: "I searched Buffalo News Online and found no reference to either Douglas or Joshua's last names, Hybank Drive, Lt. Dale H. White, or the Vigilant Volunteer Fire Company. Furthermore, several clues highlighted in the story make me suspect that it was not written by a professional. I therefore deem this an Urban Legend, though readers are encouraged to scan newspapers and online journals and send me copies for verification."
* Melodramatic phrasing.
** Translates as "Casanova Creek" which is an unlikely detail.
*** Poor grammar: a) needs a comma b) improper use of singular verb.
**** Phrases not commonly used in news reports.
***** How likely is it that a "very critically injured" man will be scheduled to appear in court a few days after his injury? Surely the wheels of justice still grind slower than that. Invisible Man points out, "Joshua was the injured person, not Douglas. That's why Douglas was scheduled in court."

(July 2000) When West Seneca police responded to a noisy house party involving underage drinkers early Saturday morning on Hybank Drive, they never expected to trigger a tragedy.* But the sight of an approaching patrol car caused some 50 young people* to scatter, and one of them ran off a 60-foot cliff, police said.

Joshua screamed as he plummeted toward the rocky shore of Cazenovia Creek,** where he suffered massive head injuries authorities said***. Hill, 18, of West Seneca, was listed in critical condition late Saturday in Erie County Medical Center. "It's a tragic accident brought on by consumption of alcohol by underage individuals," Detective Lt. Dale H. Wight said Saturday.

Douglas, 20, of Hybank Drive was charged with creating a criminal nuisance and violating the town's noise ordnance at his family's home. "His parents are on vacation in Florida, and he was holding a party," Wight said. "Douglas is at Erie County Medical Center. He was taken there due to his emotional state. He is distraught over what happened."

Douglas said he barely knew Joshua, but is hoping he survives his injuries. "It's an unfortunate incident. We're hoping that he makes out OK."

Police are attempting to determine**** how the young people**** obtained a keg of beer, and the reason for the gathering. The tragedy was set in motion after neighbors called police to complain about the noise coming from the party. At 3:45 a.m., Police Officer David Wright arrived at the house and said he observed approximately 50 people running from the residence. Hill and a companion ran toward the rear of the yard, where there is brush and trees rolling up to the cliff. Police speculated that Joshua never saw the drop.* "He ran off the end of the embankment above the creek. A friend running with him heard him screaming as he fell over the cliff," Wight said.

Vigilant Volunteer Fire Company responded, and rescue workers found Hill unconscious but breathing. He was taken by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. "He's in very critical condition," * Wight said.

Douglas was scheduled to appear in West Seneca Town Court at 7 p.m. Tuesday.*****

When the music's over,
Turn out the lights...
Turn out the lights.
-Jim Morrison and the Doors.

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Reference: Buffalo News

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Many readers wrote in to confirm the existence of Cazenovia Creek, from firsthand accounts and online technical references.and a map of the creek. Thanks to Maggie McKenna, Mark Schmitt, Chris, Tim Strong, Gene Bray, James O'Connell, D. Rhoads, Saralee, Invisible Man, Fran, Brendan, David Nielsen, Greg Hanes

"My wife and I made fun of the Buffalo News reporting of this story. It was one of the best written stories that the Buffalo News has done in a while. Such is the disadvantage of a one newspaper town."

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