Here at Vulture Central we are connoisseurs of the hilarious near-death satnav blunder, which is to news as deep-fried jetwash poultry giblo-nuggets are to nutrition - disgusting, unsatisfying, the bane of society and yet snorked up in moments even by those who should know better. Today the wires bring us what may very well be the sidesplitting GPS human misery pratfall to rule them all.
Essentially the story is this. Deep in the wilds of Utah, within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a terrible Bermuda-Triangle-esque Satnav Death Zone has appeared. Quite literally dozens of visitors to the area have been lured to their doom in the area, according to local officials.
"A group of Belgium [sic] tourists had to lick condensation off their minivan's windshield for water after being stranded on Four Mile Bench in May 2007," acccording to the AP.
"It wasn't the first time Staircase visitors have wandered into near oblivion," said Larry Crutchfield of the Utah Bureau of Land Management, adding that this was "often with the false encouragement of a GPS device".
Crutchfield's remarks offer a worrying hint that demonic navigation consoles - well known to operate by receiving mysterious signals from outer space - may no longer merely be misleading motorists, but actively inciting them to suicide or even using a form of machine telepathy brainwave dominance to take over their minds.
Matters came to a head at the weekend, reportedly, when a "convoy" of 26 Californians in multiple vehicles - apparently being herded like human cattle by a single satnav space-ray hypnosis podule - were driven onto the the very lip of a terrifying precipice.
"They just kept driving and driving," said Chief Deputy Tracy Glover, of the local sheriff's department, whose flabber was left gasted to its limit and beyond as the horrific yet opportunely newsworthy episode unfolded.
Fortunately, the murderous space brainwave box lost its mesmeric grasp on the Californians' intellects at the last moment, possibly due to a disturbance or mooning incident of some sort among children in the back seats.
"For now, I don't want anybody to know about it," said Daniel Cohen, back home safely in Los Angeles, as he described his ordeal to global news service AP. He added that the harrowing journey had been "a nightmare - the vacation from Hell" and revealed that the group had recovered consciousness the next day after a night spent in their cars balanced Italian Job style on the very lip of disaster.
Cohen said the group had attracted the attention of a passing rescue plane by jumping up and down, and by calling the emergency services on mobile phones.
It seems that the mysterious satnav effects may not always be restricted to the Utah Space Brain-control Polyhedron of Doom itself. The AP report adds that:
In the same country in early March 2003, a South African man living in London and his [Massachusetts] girlfriend were stranded for six days by a powerful snowstorm.
Presumably "the same country" means the USA; or possibly Britain, or even conceivably South Africa.
We very much fear that the underlying causes behind the Utah Polyhedron may intensify as August goes on. ®