SeanPAune

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May 25 2005

I feel bad laughing about this, but…

It seems two English folks wanted to live out their Star Wars fantasies, and thought filling a fluorescent tube with petrol (gasoline to those of us in the USA) was a darn good way to make a lightsaber. And as with any stupid act nowadays, they video taped it. Mark Webb (20) and Shelley Mandiville (17) are now in the hospital in critical condition. It seems Mr. Webb has burns on 40% of his body, no listing of how bad Ms. Mandiville’s burns are.

You can read the news story at Sky News, The Scotsman, BBC News & ITV News.

The only reason these people won’t be up for a Darwin Award is that they lived.



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  • Al

    Unlike the media portrayal, Marc and Shelley are not just a couple of Star Wars geeks. They are members of a UK based stunt group that is highly regarded on the ‘home grown’ stunt scene.

    Ironically, this stunt may have been aimed at poking fun at star wars geeks that re-enact battle scenes but it went horribly wrong.

    At least you feel bad about laughing – some sickos are actively seeking out their group’s message board to leave abuse on it – the worst being from the USA and Canada. Most of us have done stupid things at some point in life – these two are really paying the price.

    Marc has horrific burns and apparently both his lungs collapsed. It was reported on their message board that Shelley has burnt off her nose, lips, cheeks and ears. Both are critical and still may not make it.

  • “They are members of a UK based stunt group that is highly regarded on the ?home grown? stunt scene.”

    Well sorry to say that makes me feel LESS sympathy for them. The concept of filling a light tube with gasoline, something that is not built specifically for that job is just idiotic. If they have been doing homebrew style stunts for awhile they should have known better. There is a reason why every gas station in America has signs up that say no unapproved containers should be filled with gas…it’s freakin dangerous!

  • Al

    “The concept of filling a light tube with gasoline, something that is not built specifically for that job is just idiotic. If they have been doing homebrew style stunts for awhile they should have known better.”

    I totally agree and this is why the media account doesn’t seem correct. My comments were aimed at questioning the reliability of the media reports as well as passing comment on the needless abuse that the media reports generated.

    Since the Police haven’t released details of how it happened, it is quite likely that the media just decided to portray it in the most sensational manner possible without having the facts. Perhaps your media is different in the USA but ours in the UK seem to be more into selling stories that providing the truth.

    If this pair did somehow manage to uncap the end of the tubes without breaking them and then fill each with over a litre of fuel, I’m sure they would have been totally incinerated and not just badly burnt. Doing it this way wouldn’t even remotely resemble a lightsabre so it’s just too far fetched and illogical. What is more likely is that they used a gelling agent in the petrol and coated the outside of the tubes then lit them. Hey presto, flame over the entire tube that looks like a lightsabre. If they misjudged the amount of gelled fuel applied, then when (not if) the tube exploded due to the heat, they would have been showered with the excess setting their clothes alight. It’s still stupid not to test it from a distance first but it’s not as unbelievably stupid as the guess that the media are selling as the truth.

    I’m sure the truth will come out in the future and it may prove me wrong but if I am right then the media will just bury the real story as it won’t be sensational enough to report.

    “There is a reason why every gas station in America has signs up that say no unapproved containers should be filled with gas?it?s freakin dangerous”

    A non-approved container could be just as safe or even safer than an approved container. It just depends on the container. Having the warning means that if anything happens it’s the responsibility of the person handling the container and the station owners don’t get sued for the consequences. Like many so called safety notices in the USA, it’s not about safety it’s about immunity from being sued. I can just imagine the lawsuits now … “There wasn’t a notice saying I shouldn’t fill my bucket with petrol and drive home smoking therefore it’s the station owner’s fault my car caught fire and my kids died”.

    Of course, in the USA, the fluorescent light tubes would have had a warning on them along the lines of “Don’t Fill with Petrol – May Explode” ;)

  • Ok, we seem to have a more common ground now:) Reading my site, you can see I quite often call the media idiots. I know they make mountains out of mole hills. All I am trying to say is no one should play with fire without the proper training and proper equipment. I played with fire many times as a child and came WAY to close to causing myself harm.

    “It?s still stupid not to test it from a distance first but it?s not as unbelievably stupid as the guess that the media are selling as the truth.”

    Yes, testing from a safe distance is always a better idea.

    “A non-approved container could be just as safe or even safer than an approved container. It just depends on the container. Having the warning means that if anything happens it?s the responsibility of the person handling the container and the station owners don?t get sued for the consequences. Like many so called safety notices in the USA, it?s not about safety it?s about immunity from being sued. I can just imagine the lawsuits now ? ?There wasn?t a notice saying I shouldn?t fill my bucket with petrol and drive home smoking therefore it?s the station owner?s fault my car caught fire and my kids died?.”

    I agree 100%, however, even with those warnings up I have seen people trying to fill disposable milk jugs, glass bottles and in one case, a soda can. There ARE stupid people out there that really should be removed from the gene pool.

    “Of course, in the USA, the fluorescent light tubes would have had a warning on them along the lines of ?Don?t Fill with Petrol – May Explode?”

    Give them a week…it takes time to print warning labels;)