A prank traditionally pulled in high school hallways could get you 30 years in the slammer if it goes terribly wrong.
A few days before Christmas in 2013, a disgruntled Oklahoma man named Brad Lee Davis gave his stepfather an "atomic wedgie," hoisting the man's underpants over his head. The prank is usually intended to embarrass the recipient, and Davis claimed he meant no harm. Tragically, however, Davis' victim died.
You might have forgotten about atomic wedgies, so here's a quick primer before we discuss the legal implications of this prank.
What Is an Atomic Wedgie?
"Atomic wedgie" is a slang term for forcibly yanking the waistband of someone's underwear up to their shoulder blades and ideally over their head. This stands in contrast with a regular wedgie, where the underwear is only yanked a few inches above the recipient's waistline.
The earliest mention of atomic wedgies online dates back to a 2003 entry in Urban Dictionary. The term was added to Webster's New World College Dictionary in 2005.
The atomic wedgie is one of several wedgie variations, including the hanging wedgie, which entails the victim being hung from the elastic waistband. There's also the melvin, where the victim's underwear is yanked up from the front to hurt the victim's genitals.
The atomic wedgie is widely regarded as the most humiliating variation of the prank, hence its popularity as a school prank. But it's more than embarrassing—it can kill you too.
Can Atomic Wedgies Be Lethal?
Now, back to what you came here for: the story of how a wedgie killed a man.
Inside his mom's trailer in McLoud, Oklahoma, Brad Lee Davis got into a fight with his 58-year-old stepfather, Denver Lee St. Clair, who allegedly bullied his stepson "all of his life." After St. Clair insulted Davis' mother, the two came to blows.
In what he called an act of self-defense, Davis knocked St. Clair unconscious, grabbed his blue underwear, and pulled it over his head from behind.
Davis, a former marine, wanted his stepdad to be embarrassed when he woke up—but he never did.
The underwear's elastic band got wrapped around St. Clair's neck and cut off his air supply, according to the New York Daily News. The medical examiner said St. Clair died from blunt force trauma to the head and asphyxiation.
"I'd never seen this before, when we first looked at our victim seeing the waistband of his underwear was around his neck," said Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth.
Davis's attorney, Bob Wyatt, said the atomic wedgie was never intended to murder his stepfather.
"There was never any intent to kill him that way. I don't think it was even foreseeable to him," he told the Oklahoman. "When he was interviewed that night, he said, 'Man, I did a horrible thing when I gave him that wedgie.'… He didn't even really know the guy died."
Davis pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in May 2015, according to The Washington Post. "Things got out of hand," he told the judge.
A few weeks later, Pottawatomie County District Judge John G. Canavan Jr. sentenced Davis to 30 years in prison, making him the first person to get locked up for a wedgie-related offense.
The Pottawatomie County case is the only reported death by a wedgie. However, wedgies have been known to cause serious harm to victims, especially boys. In 2004, a 10-year-old boy underwent surgery to reattach a testicle to his scrotum after receiving a wedgie (a maneuver the pranksters said they learned from The Simpsons).
Moral of the story: wedgies are dangerous. If you plan on giving one (atomic or otherwise), you'd better have a lawyer on speed dial in case you "pull" a Brad Davis.
Stop Punishing Your Butt
Here at DUDE HQ, we're committed to ending butt-related injuries of all sorts. That includes advocating for victims of atomic wedgies, but a more pervasive problem we're addressing is
"polished anus syndrome" (PAS), which occurs when you wipe your ass with dry toilet paper.
PAS is a legit medical condition that affects thousands of people. If you or a loved one suffers from a chapped rear, try flushable DUDE Wipes to soothe your sensitive sides. Together, we can save America's ass, one wipe at a time.