|Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.|
2009 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin
Vote low to DISQUALIFY, high to KEEP.
Reader Frank Davis comments, "Suspicious.
Industrial circular saws require power but the power was out.
Reader Jared researched this story, and things aren't adding up. "1. There is a 'Richard Martinkovic' who is a commissioner of public safety--but not in Pennsylvania; he works in Sullivan City, NY. 2. Mieczyskaw Mil WAS a real person, but he was from ridgewood, NY, which isn't in Sullivan County. 3. He died in 2008, not 2009, as evidenced by his findagrave.com page."
Darwin says, "Things are not adding up for this story. But one mistake was simply mine. The news reports indicate it happened in New York, not Pennsylvania, so I changed that mistake. Now, the epitaph on findagrave.com is identical to the news reports except for a different year, so it could be just a typo. I am not aware of whether findagrave.com is stringent about facts, but its mission is to help people locate the gravesites of famous people--it's not a news source. I did notice that one media reference (newsday.com) is no longer available. However, a google News search reveals that this story was definitely posted on the AP (Associated Press) service, so it certainly has real news sources. Putting the question of its veracity aside for a moment, we cannot figure out WHY the man took a saw to the power line. This certainly is not going to restore his power. If the story is true (which is dubious) then perhaps he's just a mentally unbalanced old man. Methinks this story is not long for this world. I so much appreciate your help, Frank and Jared." -wendy
Reader Robert writes, "I wonder if it could have been a gas powered saw?"
Anonymous Reader writes, "I do not agree with your scepticism. Clearly power has been partially restored to the area so it is no surprise that some of the lines are electrified. Some industrial chain saws can use power (perhaps from a neighbour, who now has power even though he still does not?) but I would expect that it is a diesel powered chain saw."
Reader Bartosz Rakowski writes, "You state clearly that the biggest question (and an obstacle to consider the story true) is Mieczyslaw Mil's motivation behind his acts. Maybe I can help by sheding some new light on this problem. Mieczyslaw's name suggests he's of Polish origin or even a Polish citizen. There are similar variants in Russia, Czech, Slovakia, but in this case the spelling is clearly Polish. Being Polish myself, I clearly see one of our national traits in this story. He might have considered the situation unfair - other streets had the energy supply long restored, while he was there in the dark, with his frustration growing. This national trait is a somewhat perverted sense of justice. It might have seemed fair for him to revert the state of things to previous one - with the WHOLE area out of electricity, including him and everyone else. Beause, unfortunately, we tend to think that it's "fair" when everyone else is doing as badly as we are. Lots of industrial saw models operate on gasoline, so he might have been able to demonstrate his rage withouth the electricity working."
Reader Stuart writes, ""I totally would believe it. Firstly it may have been a cordless tool which is common in the trade insustry, at least in Australia. Someone without knowledge of such tools could easily mistake a large cordless circular saw for an industrial power saw or 'whatever' it was claimed to be. Which brings me to my second point.
"I have worked as an arborist pruning and removing trees around power lines. This is dangerous work. We recieve special training as to the arcing distance of overhead powerlines. He may not have even used the saw, but he still possibly got electrocuted because of arcing electricity, especially in the rain near a 4800kv line. To take out 17,000 homes it would have had to of been a high powered service line, and these have a constant flow of power even if cut or broken. I'm not sure of the exact process to shut off the power to them, but I think it involves actually turning the power supply off altogether since the voltage and ampage is so high in a service line it cannot be diverted like the common 240 volt lines.
"We have a common 3000kv line around where I worked in my training; I was informed these lines can arc 3-6m in dry condition, and in wet conditions, upwards of 10 meters. In the rain we would not even go near them. In a high voltage insulated elevated work platform truck with a grounding line, even the 240volt lines would be precarious. Which brings me to my third point.
"I also encountered some stranger than normal older europeans whilst I carried out tree cutting work. I have seen old women ignoring three men yelling, and safety barriers, to get pieces of fire wood...literally dodging logs as they were being cut and dropped from 10m above. She didnt care, she just wanted free firewood....but nuts people removing themselves from the gene pool is what Darwin is all about! I totally believe he was probably just some crazy old bastard that was missing his favourite extreme right wing talk-back radio show, and he decided to go and fix the problem of the radio not working himself, since everyone else that was supposed to be fixing it was probably avoiding the area not getting electrocuted and therefore seemingly standing around doing nothing. I like it, I can see how it is possible!"