The Darwin Awards

1995 Darwin Awards

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Caught in the Auger
1995 Darwin Award Winner
Unconfirmed by Darwin

"Welcome my son, welcome to the machine."
-Pink Floyd

(31 July 1995, Christchurch, New Zealand) An ice-maker may seem innocuous, but when it's big enough to walk into -- for example, one that supplies ice to fishing boats -- it can be so dangerous that safety procedures and fail-safe devices are required. So it was a bit of a surprise when employees at afish processing plant heard screams emanating from inside the giant ice-maker.

An employee had been running the machine when the flow of ice jammed. Access to the machine's auger chamber was restricted, and employees are trained never to enter the chamber while the auger is running. It would be easy enough to ignore the warning signs, but it is hard to get around another safety feature: the auger will not run unless the operator holds down a foot pedal outside the chamber. Take your foot off the pedal and the machine shuts down.

There was no way the operator could run the auger and also enter the chamber. Or so it seemed, but one enterprising employee found a way. He laid a heavy piece of metal on the foot pedal to keep the auger running while he entered the chamber to clear the ice jam. He was caught by the swirling auger and drawn inevitably, and fatally, into the ice machine.

Ironically, the employee had helped negotiate a labor contract stipulating that workers should scrupulously follow all safety procedures and abide by the company's operating rules.

Darwin asks, is this an Urban Legend?
Can anyone confirm or refute?
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Reference: The Press, Christchurch NZ

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