A Lawyer Jokes: It’s the 30th anniversary of the most infamous Darwin Award

The origin of the “Darwin Awards” dates back to 1985 on a Usenet newsgroup.  It was in 1993 that Wendy Northcutt (who holds a Cal-Berkeley degree in molecular biology) created the Darwin Award website and domain, and began cataloguing “dumb ways to die” (or to make oneself sterile, the other means of earning a DA).  The death that may or may not be the impetus for the founding of the Darwin Awards has its 30th anniversary on Sunday.

On Friday, July 9, 1993, Garry Hoy was meeting a group of students in his law office, where he worked for the firm of Holden Day Wilson.  A trick he used to perform was to jump against the pane of glass in his office.  He was told the glass was unbreakable, and despite the numerous times he threw his body against the glass, it never broke.

And the glass never did break . . . while in its frame.

Due to Hoy’s repeated abuse of the window, the frame finally gave way on that fateful morning.  Both Hoy and the pane of glass fell from his 24th floor office to the concrete sidewalk below the Toronto Dominion Building.

It was there that the pane of glass did finally break.  Along with Hoy’s body.

The Darwin Awards’ entry on Garry Hoy can be read here, with mid-1990s web design on full display.

The ultimate irony of Hoy’s death is his level of “education”.  From Unilad, June 2023:

Lawyer fell out of skyscraper window to his death while trying to prove it was unbreakable

In the grand scheme of embarrassing ways to die, Garry Hoy might just take the crown after he fell to his death out of a window while trying to demonstrate how strong it was.

Hoy, 38, was a highly-regarded employee at Toronto law firm Holden Day Wilson.

Having also earned a degree in engineering, his natural career progression was to specialise in building safety and compliance.

I should feel absolutely horrible in typing this story instead of laughing with each new detail.


  1. Oggie: Mathom says

    And, in a little known continuation of that story, the building’s owners sold the design of the window to the Russians. And it has made the avocation of the All Russian National Defenestration Team much easier.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    I remember the story. All I could think of was the horror of the event, for the students who witnessed it*, for Hoy himself, and his family. I could never understand the “hur, hur” response of some people.

    *How many of them still have nightmares about it, I wonder.

  3. anthrosciguy says

    Speaking as a temporary Torontonian at the time, yeah, terrible for the other employees and bad for his family, but him? He was an idiot doing an idiotic thing, grandstanding to make himself look whatever the hell he thought it made him look. I’m sure he had time on the way down to consider where he went wrong, but instead probably spent it working out how he was going to sue the window installers.

    Plus, in the realm of urban legends that are true, this one is near perfect in its details. Not just just some smug office worker, but a lawyer. And not just a lawyer, but a Bay Street lawyer (that means a specific thing in Canada) and it’s precisely who people like seeing hoist on the petard they themselves spent years setting up.

    Now, here in Victoria there was a young woman who made a dumb mistake and fell from a high building she was moving into about 10 years ago, but no one treats as anything other than a tragic mistake. But then she didn’t do the dumb mistake year after year after year for grandstanding purposes like this lawyer. This Bay Street Lawyer.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    anthrosciguy @3: I commuted by bicycle between Scarborough and downtown Toronto day after day, year after year. In hindsight, that made me an idiot too. Maybe I just have some sympathy for other idiots, whether they’re Bay Street lawyers or not.

  5. anthrosciguy says

    I rode a bicycle to downtown Toronto too, and when I went along the Danforth it was reasonable dangerous. Hot too some days. I don’t see that as remotely similar to flinging yourself with all your weight and strength, year after year, against a highrise’s windows for the sake of grandstanding.

    And you know, I’ll bet you don’t either.

    • Rob Grigjanis says

      So, not only do you claim to be able to read the mind of a long-dead lawyer, you ‘bet’ I agree with you. Dunno about the mind-reading, but you lose the bet.

      Bicycle commuting in Toronto (any large city without dedicated bike lanes, I suspect) is (maybe ‘was’; Toronto has improved since my day) a crap shoot. There were two incidents which I survived relatively unscathed, but only by sheer luck. And many others which could have ended badly. That didn’t stop me! Hence the ‘idiot’ diagnosis.

      So, I persisted in behaviour for which there was solid, non-negligible evidence of possibly fatal consequences. See the similarity?

      The main difference seems to be that you hate lawyers for some reason.

  6. says

    Having also earned a degree in engineering, his natural career progression was to specialise in building safety and compliance.

    That’s the part I find utterly hilarious. As an engineer, with a safety & compliance specialty, he should have known it was a bad idea.

  7. Silentbob says

    @ Rob Grigjanis

    Get a grip. You’re trying to compare riding a bicycle in Toronto to repeatedly throwing yourself at a 24th floor external window from the inside for no reason. These things are not similar.