The Darwin Awards

2004 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!

Flaming Bungee Jump
2004 At-Risk Survivor
Confirmed True by Darwin

(17 January 2004, Bristol, England) The Clifton Suspension Bridge, 250 feet above the 700-foot-wide Avon Gorge, has attracted people with something to prove ever since it was finished. In 1885 Sarah Ann Henley threw herself from the bridge after an argument with a boyfriend, and was saved by her parachute-like dress and cushiony crinoline petticoats. In 1957, a Flying Officer of the RAF successfully flew a Vampire jet under the bridge at 450 mph. He briefly celebrated before he and his jet disintegrated on the cliffs on the south side.

To prevent further incidents, rules were established prohibiting under-flights, over-jumps, and other aberrant behavior. Bungee jumping is specifically banned. Despite strict rules, the historic bridge attracts many would-be Darwin candidates, such as James, 22, who violated the rules and lived to tell the tale.

James walked onto the bridge, attached a lengthy bungee cord, and leapt off. His plan was to set himself on fire, cut the cord, and drop into the river below, quenching the flames. Unfortunately his knife was not up to the task. The blazing man dangled over the river for 26 interminable seconds, before he found a spare knife and severed the rope. At long last he plunged into the river, which extinguished the flames, and swam off.

James was taken to the Bristol Royal Infirmary and later transferred to the Burn Unit in the city. A spokesperson for the Dangerous Sports Club told the BBC, "His heart is in the right place, but stunt men usually put on flame-retardant suits." James himself told the BBC that it was a thrill-seeking stunt that went horribly wrong. After that brief comment, he demanded 1000 pounds for a full interview.

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Submitted by: Natalie
Reference: BBC News On-Line

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