Death by Fireworks Call for “Darwin Awards!”

—July 6, 2015

Among the more interesting headlines on our newsfeed this morning was: “Man shoots off firework from top of his head, dies instantly.” According to the article, 22-year-old Devon Staples of Calais, Maine had been drinking and shooting off fireworks with his friends, when he decided that it would be a good idea to light a re-loadable fireworks mortar tube that he had placed atop his head. His friends reportedly urged him not to do it and thought that they had successfully convinced him to stop, but then Devon lit the fuse and the resulting explosion effectively removed his head.

Devon’s brother, Cody Staples, said his brother “was not the kind of person who would do something stupid. He was the kind of person who would pretend to do something stupid to make people laugh.”


While Cody undoubtedly knows his brother better than most, we’re inclined to believe that Devon truly did do something stupid, and that he will undoubtedly be in the running for a Darwin Award.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Darwin Awards, they “commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives.” Named after Charles Darwin of “Theory of Evolution” fame (or infamy, for those who believe evolution is bunk and the earth and all its critters were created 10,000 or so years ago), Darwin Award winners must “eliminate themselves from the gene pool in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.” For more information go to:

Devon was not the only American killed by fireworks this past weekend. In Grant County, Indiana, 41-year-old James Drake died when he was struck in the face by a “fireworks shell” while checking to see why it had not detonated. Well, it decided to detonate and caused “extensive facial trauma” leading to death. In Elkhart County, Indiana, 44-year-old Jose Magallanes was found dead in his back yard, after neighbors reported a “loud boom.” The death was ruled accidental blunt force trauma to the head caused by an explosive fireworks incident.

A 12-year-old boy was killed in Nashville, Tennessee, when a mortar-type firework exploded in his hand causing fatal chest injuries, and a 47-year-old Scott Jeffers of Detroit, Michigan was reportedly killed when a large firework shell he was holding exploded near his head. No word on how or why the firework exploded “near his head.”

With the exception of the 12-year-old whose young age makes him ineligible, these other gentlemen might also make good Darwin Award nominees. While perhaps not as blatantly foolish as lighting a large explosive mortar tube sitting atop one’s head, these men did manage to place their noggins up close and personal to high explosives. We’re not talking about firecrackers here–these were high explosive, really-big-bang pyrotechnics. And we’re talking about pyrotechnics that needed an ignition source. These fireworks didn’t just light themselves….

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