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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 01 December 2006

The Gecko: 01 December 2006

The Darwin Award is given to the individual whose gene pool deserves to end. This year's award winner:

The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded in the side of a cliff rising above the road at the apex of a curve. The wreckage resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it was a car. The type of car was unidentifiable at the scene.

Police investigators finally pieced together the mystery. An amateur rocket scientist... had somehow gotten hold of a JATO unit (Jet Assisted Take Off, actually a solid-fuel rocket) that is used to give heavy military transport planes an extra "push" for taking off from short airfields. He had driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. He attached the JATO unit to the car, jumped in, got up some speed and fired off the JATO!

The facts as best as could be determined are that the operator of the 1967 Impala hit the JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3.0 miles from the crash site. This was established by the scorched and melted asphalt at that location.

The JATO, if operating properly, would have reached maximum thrust within 5 seconds, causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 mph and continuing at full power for an additional 20-to-25 seconds. The driver, and soon to be pilot, would have experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog-fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners, causing him to become irrelevant for the remainder of the event. However, the automobile remained on the straight highway for about 2.5 miles (15-to-20 seconds) before the driver applied and completely melted the brakes, blowing the tires and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface, then becoming airborne for an additional 1.4 miles and impacting the cliff face at a height of 125 feet leaving a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock.

Most of the driver's remains were not recoverable. However, small fragments of bone, teeth and hair were extracted from the crater, and fingernail and bone shards were removed from a piece of debris believed to be a portion of the steering wheel.

Epilogue: It has been calculated that this moron attained a ground speed of approximately 420-mph, though much of his voyage was not on the ground



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