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The Man in the Washing Machine

This one was forwarded to me as a winner of the 1999 Darwin Award... Yeah, sure.

Hmmm.... Sniff, sniff, sniff... I smell an urban myth.

Man dies in freak accident

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- A 39-year-old Charlottesville man died Thursday in a freak accident involving his washing machine.

According to police reports, Samuel Randolph Strickson was doing laundry when he tried to speed up the process. Strickson tried to stuff approximately 50 pounds of laundry into his washing machine by climbing on top of the washer and attempting to force the clothing into the basin.

Strickson then accidentally kicked the washing machine's ON button.

When the machine turned on, Strickson lost his balance and both feet went down into the machine, where they got stuck. The machine started its cycle, and Strickson, unable to free himself, started thrashing around as the machine's agitator went into gear.

Strickson's head banged against a shelf in the laundry room, knocking over a bottle of bleach, which poured over Strickson's face, blinding him. Forensic reports say Strickson also swallowed some of the bleach. He then vomited, but was still unable to free himself. Then Strickson's dog came into the laundry room.

At about the same time, according to police, a large box of baking soda fell from the shelf, startling the dog, who then urinated.

Urine, like vinegar, is acidic, and the chemical reaction between the urine and the baking soda resulted in "a small explosion," according to police reports.

Strickson remained stuck in the washing machine, which eventually went into its high-speed spin cycle, spinning Strickson around at about 70 miles per hour, according to forensic experts. Strickson's head then smashed against a steel beam behind the washing machine, killing him instantly.

A neighbor heard the commotion and called 911, but Strickson was pronounced dead at the scene.

I've heard of unbalanced loads before, but this takes the cake. This one just stretches credulity a bit too much.

Can't find any mention of this anywhere on the 'net. Couldn't find anything in the Washington Post archives. Washington, D.C. is very close to Charlottesville, Virginia, so the Post routinely covers news items such as car crashes and obituaries from there. No mention of washing machines or "Strickson" or any number of other keywords in at least the last ten years of the Post.

I would mention that Charlottesville has a university brimming with undergrads, though.... Personally, I suspect that some freshmen at Charlottesville mixed some alcohol with too much cramming for freshman Chemistry -- resulting in this concoction.

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Page created 2/12/99.
Last updated 03/17/03 at 14:37.

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