2018 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin
(3 September 2018, New Zealand) Sometimes the fastest method results in the
deadliest outcome. The tale of Howard Miller, 39, professional welder and
Darwin Award Winner, illustrates the pitfalls of ignoring high school
chemistry with a time-saving invention.
Always helpful, Miller spent his last moments helping a friend weld an
exhaust pipe onto a classic Holden Kingswood sedan. He arrived at the
garage shed with an experimental welding kit: an LPG bottle, similar to a
propane tank, in which he had mixed both components that make up
oxy-acetylene welding gas: acetylene and oxygen.
Now, that last detail should send a shiver down any welder’s spine!
Professional welders know that these components are kept in separate tanks
because, when combined, they burn hot enough to cut metal. A tank of
mixed acetylene/oxygen + no flow regulator = an accident waiting to
Like a scene from Breaking Bad, Mr. Miller had unwittingly constructed a lethal
Once Miller unveiled his jury-rigged device, his friend regognized this
dangerous equation and repeatedly warned that it was crazy! Finally he
high-tailed it out of the shed while Miller, undeterred by a bit of panic,
attachec a torch head straight onto the bottle and lit the welding tip.
Sans regulator, the flame crept back into the bottle and the inevitable
explosion flattened the shed, which also contained about twenty litres of
paint thinner and gasoline. The force of the explosion was so intense it
shattered the windows of neighboring properties.
Needless to say, the friend is in need a new car.
The deceased winner, a gentle and generous man, would surely be grateful to
know that no one else was hurt in the fracas. And as a consolation prize,
his tragic experiment will benefit others by demonstrating a potential
consequence of skipping chemistry class.