The Darwin Awards

2009 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!

An Un-Fun Whirlwind
2009 At-Risk Survivor
Unconfirmed by Darwin

Roofing vacant homes in Sun Valley, Nevada was the sweetest commute imaginable. I'd wake up, make breakfast, climb a ladder, and BAM! I was at work. Two things Sun Valley has: sand and dirt. Front yards: sand and dirt. Back yards: sand and dirt. Between homes: sand and dirt. Guess what the roads are made of. Yeah.

Dust was so prevalent that it was constantly being exchanged by dust devils. These tiny tornadoes were always wandering aimlessly about, coming tantalizingly close but never engaging me. You see, I've always been a reckless sort. Personal risk is something I will wager for the prospect of fun. My idea was simple: Jump into the first Devil of formidable size; not some weak little twister that could only get me dirty. I wanted a contender.

A month passed. My Mexican helper cried out, "Miguel! Look! Look!" And there it was. A monster. My monster, with a 30-foot footprint, rising hundreds of feet into the air, and it was heading straight for us.

"I'm goin' in!"

To which Joaquin replied, "Nooo Miguel, noooo". At this point I must tell you, Joaquin was a very reluctant accomplice.

Down the ladder I went, two steps at a time, and as I ran closer and heard the roar I must say I had second thoughts. Stupidity got the best of me, so eager was I to interact with this behemoth, so in I rushed.

Instantly all the air was sucked out of my lungs. My eyes were filled with high-velocity sand and what breath I could draw was just detritus from the tornado. As the twister pulled me toward its center, the feeling of being planted firmly on the ground was diminishing, and something wanted my body to spin.

The violence was so intense that I wondered to myself, "Could one of these kill someone? Has anyone ever died inside a dust devil?" When it finally released me, I went down onto my hands and knees, choking and gagging, and kissed the ground. Joaquin rushed to my side and frantically communicated that he thought I was a goner. To which I gasped, "I'd like to do that again."

Joaquin just shook his head and muttered, "Estupido".

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Submitted by: Michael Clark
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