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Author Topic: Picks from darwin awards  (Read 919 times)

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Offline mwilsonTopic starter

Picks from darwin awards
« on: October 04, 2008, 05:01:45 PM »
(18 August 2008, Florida) A kite-boarder who went for a wild ride on the winds of Tropical Storm Fay is in critical condition at Broward General Medical Center. A news crew was filming the storm when they captured footage of the 26-year-old man's aerial adventure. Harnessed to his sail, he was picked up by the wind and slammed into the beach, dragged along the sand, picked up again, and bashed into a building.
The man's family described him an experienced kite-boarder. His harness was equipped with emergency releases, but the wind whirled him around so fast that had no time to jettison the kite. A witness said, "It was a miracle that he just flew over the street and didn't get hit by a car."

 ;D ;D ;D ;D

Offline The Overlord

Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2008, 05:17:16 PM »
He's trying real hard for sure, but as I understand the Darwin Awards, he's only in contention. If he survived, then he failed to take himself out or ruin any opportunity to bring about his progeny.

I am loath to bring it up since the wound is so fresh, but these people clearly qualified.

GALVESTON, Texas - The final hours brought the awful realization to victims of Hurricane Ike that they had waited too long. This storm wasn't like the others, the ones that left nothing worse than a harrowing tale to tell.

George Helmond, a hardy Galveston salt, watched the water rise and told a buddy: I was born on this island and I'll die on this island.

Gail Ettenger, a free spirit who adopted the Bolivar Peninsula as her home 15 years ago, told a friend in a last phone call: I really messed up this time.

Within hours, the old salt and the free spirit were gone as the powerful Category 2 hurricane wracked the Texas Gulf Coast on Sept. 13, flattening houses, obliterating entire towns and claiming at least 33 lives.

The dead — as young as 4, as old as 79 — included lifelong Galvestonians firmly rooted on the island and transplants drawn by the quiet of coastal living.

Seven people drowned in a storm surge that moved in earlier and with more ferocity than expected. Nine others died in the grimy, sweaty aftermath, when lack of power and medicine exacted its toll. Eleven people were poisoned by carbon monoxide or killed in fires from the generators they used in their own attempts to survive.

Hundreds of people remain missing three weeks after Ike's assault on Texas. Local and city officials are no longer keeping their own count of missing residents, and the estimate varies wildly from one agency to another.

According to the nonprofit Laura Recovery Center, about 300 people are missing. Of those, about 200 from Galveston. However, the number "goes up and down by the minute" as people call in to remove or add names, cautioned executive director Bob Walcutt.

Some vanished during the evacuation of towns in the storm's path. Many were last heard in desperate, last-ditch calls for help.

Immediately after the hurricane, Galveston officials conducted door-to-door searches for survivors and possible victims. But the city is no longer taking an active role in the search, city spokeswoman Alicia Cahill said.

Instead, search teams of sheriff's deputies, volunteer firefighters and special K-9 search and recovery units have been using airboats and all-terrain vehicles to sift through debris fields, tangled and fetid marshlands, and the rubble left behind by Ike.

Bodies could have been tossed anywhere in the marshes, where thickets of trees are littered with the contents of houses. Refrigerators, office chairs, and television sets are scattered everywhere __ in the mud, in bushes, on treetops.

"We are definitely looking and are going to do anything we can to find them, but there may not be any answers to be given," said Galveston County emergency management spokesman Colin Rizzo. "There are definitely going to be people from Hurricane Ike that are never found."


Gail Ettenger stumbled upon her house in Gilchrist by accident. But once she saw the site on the bay side of Bolivar Peninsula, she knew she would never leave.

Ettenger, a native of New Jersey, instilled the house with her own energy and style. The 58-year-old's garden bloomed with vibrant birds-of-paradise.

And Reba, an 11-year-old Great Dane hobbled by arthritis, was her baby. Ettenger loved to treat the dog to dinners of chicken and roast beef, recalled JoAnne Burks, Ettenger's neighbor and close friend.

Ettenger, a chemist at ExxonMobil, didn't evacuate, reasoning that her house had weathered Hurricane Rita in 2005 without a problem. She also did not want to leave Reba, who could no longer climb into Ettenger's Jeep.

Burks and her husband pleaded with Ettenger to change her mind. But she insisted.

Hours before Ike made landfall, Ettenger knew she had made the wrong choice. She called Burks and described the water pushing up under her feet, the propane tanks and other household items drifting by her windows, and wondered which would float better: her Jeep or her house.

Her voice was shaky with fear, Burks said.

Burks spent the next 10 days searching for her friend, calling local, county and state officials without success. She tried the American Red Cross, FEMA, even private investigators.

"I didn't want her to wind up like the victims of Katrina, who were never found or identified," Burks said.

Ettenger's body was found Sept. 23, tossed on a debris field in a Chambers County marsh about 10 miles from her house.

Amid the muck and remnants of homes, Burks found a pink leather collar. The name Reba was spelled out in rhinestones.


At 72, George Helmond had ridden out many storms and thought he could take on Ike, too, neighbor Don Hanson said. "A lot of old Galvestonians are like that."

Helmond had been one of the first residents of Sydnor Lane, which overlooks a bayou on one side and a golf course on the other. A retired electrician, Helmond was a die-hard fisherman, a dove hunter and straight-shooter intensely proud of his Galveston roots.

Around 10 a.m., Helmond called Hanson, who had already left, to say the water had already slipped over the road and toward his house. The street — the only way out of the neighborhood — was already impassable.

At 9:30 p.m., Helmond and Hanson talked for the last time. By then, the water had pummeled through Helmond's garage, crushing the doors and submerging his Cadillac. Hanson begged his friend to grab a life vest at his house or to seek shelter there.

But at 2:30 a.m., for reasons no one knows, Helmond got in his pickup truck and drove off at the height of Ike's fury.

Neighbors found Helmond's body the next day inside the truck, which had slammed into the white golf course fence. The windshield was shattered.

Helmond's home suffered little damage. The water had reached above the first-floor garage, but not inside the house.

"If he had stayed home and hadn't gone out, he'd be OK, but he panicked," said Hanson, 66. "Life goes on, but I will miss a good friend and I will think about him."


Even as Ike bore down on Texas, Jim Devine refused to leave his cream-colored house within sight of the bay in San Leon. Devine had moved to the fishing town after retiring and loved the tranquil way of life there, neighbors said.

The 76-year-old Devine drowned when Ike sent water barreling through his house, picking him off the second-story porch and dropping him a block away. Days later, Devine's empty home still bore the scars of the storm — shattered windows, twisted wood, and his boat, the Seabar, jammed under the front steps.

His daughter left a warning and a memorial in orange spray paint: "Jim Devine. No Trespassing."


Port Bolivar held special meaning for 79-year-old Marian Violet Arrambide. She met her husband there during World War II. Many years later, he built the beach house where they could retire.

Arrambide, a retired nurse suffering the onset of dementia, lived with her daughter, Magdalena Strickland, and nephew, Shane Williams, in that beach house before Ike struck.

All three have been missing since the morning of Sept. 12, just as Ike began to come ashore.

"My sister said 'I'm walking out the door in a hurry. Everything's taken care of, I'll see you in a few hours.' That was it," said son Raul Arrambide, describing a 6:15 a.m. phone call.

Since then, Arrambide has had little luck getting help or information. Instead, Arrambide said, he's been passed from one agency to another.

"They send you back and forth until you're worn out," said Arrambide, his voice showing the strain of the last weeks.

After five days with no word and no answers, Arrambide borrowed a boat to search the area himself, but sheriff's deputies turned people away. He finally found a local contractor who is helping search for missing residents. That man found his relatives' vehicles, which had been washed off the road into a tree grove.

"I want to keep the hope that they are still alive, but by not hearing from any of them, that hope is getting smaller and smaller," he said. "They helped people all their lives. They did not deserve to go this way."

Yeah...see, I'm sorry, but this is the first time I've ever seen the phrase 'certain death' used in a national weather warning. Kind of leads you to suspect they were halfway serious about it.

I just fail to understand the 'I was born on this island and I'll die on this island' philosophy. Many of the unfortunate in New Orleans could not legitimately get out; they had no money or means to leave, and government 'rescue' efforts bent them over and fracked them six ways 'til Sunday.

What part of Certain Death do you not get? Unlike tornado watch or tornado warning, sounds to me a fairly non-negotiable term. Who the hell thinks they can arm wrestle a Cat 4+ hurricane and win? Have to say awards must be handed out posthumously. This speaks volumes on the Never Happens To Me ethic we have here in epidemic form >:(

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2008, 05:27:29 PM »
I'll never understand why anyone would choose to make his or her primary residence in a place less than thirty feet above sea level that's on or within five miles of a coast prone to hurricanes.

A winter bungalow, yes.  If you have the means and live in the Snow Belt, nothing wrong with owning a modest second home on the Gulf coast and going there in the winter months to escape the cold and snow.  Don't invest much into it...just your basic kitchen, bath, bedroom, and a patio with deck furniture, maybe a low-end TV.  Insure it.  Or buy a small condo.  But I was just amazed to see these $400,000 and up homes that people built and bought right on the frakking beach as their primary homes where they live and raise kids.  Dumbassery at its finest.

Of course, we have our own examples of disregard for Nature right here in California: people living in fifteen-story high-rises mere miles from the San Andreas Fault.  Boggles the mind...

Offline Avi

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Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2008, 07:46:00 PM »
You could ask the same question of people who build in Tornado Alley, or on a fault line.  Pretty much anywhere you can live there is the chance of some major disaster.

Offline The Overlord

Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2008, 09:19:46 PM »
You could ask the same question of people who build in Tornado Alley, or on a fault line.  Pretty much anywhere you can live there is the chance of some major disaster.

Point, and this includes the chance of volcanism and tsunami in Alaska and Hawaii. Based the statistics, this would make probably 85% of the country unsafe to inhabit. Growing up in the Chicago area at the top of Tornado Alley, I've see at least one airborne funnel cloud and the aftermath of a rare F5.

What we're talking about here though is a 'certain death' scenario. The first time a hurricane hit Galveston, c. 1900, it came in the middle of the night. No advance radar, radio warnings, or satellites a century ago. The storm surge came over the island and literally poured into peoples' homes while they were in bed...may Brittlby or someone else from the area correct me if I have omitted or am erroneous on some of the facts, but by all accounts it was horrible.

They were warned it was coming this time, and the magnitude of the event was clearly explained. If you deliberately stay in spite of that, you deserve what you get.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2008, 09:21:50 PM by The Overlord »

Offline Sherona

Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2008, 09:27:40 PM »
I live smack in the middle of Tornado Alley. I have seen more funnels and twisters then I care to count, and seen two F5's. But, without the states in Tornado Alley food supply for the US and other countries would be drastically reduced, cattle wheat etc and so forth. Someone has to live here *smiles* Plus most of the earth has its geological and meterological issues. Its not Earth's job to conform to our wishes, but ours to conform to the Earth's needs..cause as Nature has shown countless times before, those who do not respect her die.

Offline Oniya

Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2008, 10:01:11 PM »
We have enough tornadoes here that the school does tornado drills.  The important thing to know is what to do when you get the alert.  I'm just glad that we have a windowless, partly-below-ground room to use for a shelter.  (Even if the basement does get wet from time to time.)

Offline Vekseid

Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2008, 05:30:47 AM »
Not sure if a tornado really counts... tornadoes do not put a significant dent in the capacity for a state to make sure its population is warned beforehand or to recover from after their passage. They can devastate small communities, but surrounding communities help pick up and things go on their merry way, generally with little if any loss of life not related to doing something else stupid.

Honestly, in Minnesota here hailstorms do more financial damage.

A hurricane, tsunami, flood, volcanic eruption, or major earthquake, on the other hand, leaves a vast swath of devastation and can cripple the entire region that it hits. It requires the entire -nation- to help pick up the pieces and in some cases the help of other nations is needed.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2008, 06:47:46 AM »
Not exactly feasible to declare the entire Gulf Coast unlivable now is it?

Offline The Overlord

Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2008, 09:33:44 AM »

Yeah tornadoes can be horrible but they're very local events. If they're the X-acto knives, then hurricanes are the sledge hammers. Almost only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, nukes, and hurricanes.

Offline Sherona

Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2008, 09:52:35 AM »
that was my point Veks. People living in the coastal regions have ample warning to get out. So living there makes more sense then living in a place where it could be blue skies in the morning two hours later a whole town completely gone.

Plus um Tornados do quite a bit of damage financially...1998 tornado (and the about 5 other tornados spawned in that same storm on the same day) F5 that roared up I-44 starting about 3 miles east of my house all the way up to Oklahoma City (1.5 hour drive away) or the 2003 tornado that followed exact same path, and caused once again devistation in a fairly long path...*shrugs* I just think that everyone has their dangers that they must live with.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Picks from darwin awards
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2008, 07:20:36 AM »
Yeah tornadoes can be horrible but they're very local events. If they're the X-acto knives, then hurricanes are the sledge hammers. Almost only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, nukes, and hurricanes.
Plus you have days of warning for hurricanes and about an hour at best for tornado's sure they can warn you but still you wouldn't know till about an hour before it hit near you.

Anyway that's not exactly right hurricanes are sledgehammers that throw X-Acto knives XD