16 September 2007

The truth is not as much fun as a good urban legend

This story

Man Trying to Sneak Into Concert Venue Impaled on Fence

reminded me of one of the great Urban Legends of the early years of the Internet. (And having been to the Gorge Amphitheater at George, Wa several times, I can tell you that there is no place where this would have been possible, but it is a great piece of writing. I reproduce it in its entirety.

Misadventure at the Metallica Concert (1996)


Police in George, WA issued a report on the events leading up to the deaths of Robert Uhlenake, 24, and his friend, Ormond D. Young, 27, at a Friday night Metallica concert.

Uhlenake and Young were found dead at the Gorge Amphitheater after the show. Uhlenake was in pickup that was on top of Young at the bottom of a 20-ft drop. Young was found with severe lacerations, numerous fractures, contusions, and a branch in his anal cavity. He also had been stabbed and his pants were in a tree above him, some 15 ft off the ground, adding to the mystery of the heretofore unexplained scene.

According to Commissioner-In-Charge Inoye Appleton, Uhlenake and Young had tried to get tickets for the sold-out concert. When they were unable to get any tickets, the two decided to stay in the parking lot and drink. Once the show began, and after the two had consumed 18 beers between the them, they hit upon the idea of scaling the 7-foot wooden security fence around the perimeter of the site and sneak in.

They apparently moved the truck up to the edge of the fence and decided that Young would go over first and assist Uhlenake. They did not count on the fact that, while it was a 7-foot fence on the parking lot side, there was a 23-foot drop on the other side.

Young, who weighed 255 lbs. and was quite inebriated, jumped up and over the fence and promptly fell about half the distance before a large tree branch broke his fall and his left forearm. He also managed to get his shorts caught on the branch. Since he was now in great pain and had no way to extricate himself and his shorts from the tree, he decided to cut his shorts off and fall to the bushes below.

As soon as he cut the last bit of fabric holding him on the branch, he suddenly plummeted the rest of the way down, losing his grip on the knife. The bushes he had depended on to break his fall were actually holly bushes, and landing in them caused a massive number of cuts. He also had the misfortune of landing squarely on a holly bush branch, effectively impaling himself. The knife, which he had accidentally released 15 feet up, now landed and stabbed him in his left thigh. He was in tremendous pain.
Enter his friend Robert Uhlenake.

Uhlenake had observed the series of tumbles and realized that Young was in trouble. He hit upon the idea of lowering a rope to his friend and pulling him up and over the fence. This was complicated by the fact that Uhlenake was outweighed by his friend by a good 100 lbs. Happily, despite his drunken state, he realized he could use their truck to pull Young out. Unfortunately, because of his drunken state, Uhlenake put the truck in reverse rather than into drive. He broke through the fence and landed on Young, killing him. Uhlenake was thrown from the truck and subsequently died of internal injuries.

"So that's how a dead 255 lb. man with no pants on, with a truck on top of him and a stick up his ass, came to be" said Commissioner Appleton.

Urban Legend Status conferred 31 Dec 97: Declared an urban legend by on the following grounds: Intensive searching of online Washington State newspapers failed to produce validation. The statement attributed to the Commissioner is obviously bogus, as police do not make light of deadly shenanigans and never use the word ass to describe the rectum. And the editor of another Darwin Awards page, officialDarwinAwards.com, actually contacted the Washington State sheriff's office, which disclaimed knowledge of this story.


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