2 Dead, 9 Wounded in Van Gogh-Gogh Y2K Test
LOS ANGELES (Sept. 26, 1999 - Los Angeles Times/Van Gogh-Gogh News) -- Tragedy struck the cramped "international headquarters" of local sketch comedy group the Van Gogh-Goghs Sunday night when a Y2K preparedness test turned deadly.
At approximately 9:15 p.m. PDT, a massive explosion rocked the building containing their offices. The blast sparked several fires that took the better part of three hours to fully extinguish.
Killed in the blast were group members Rob Terrell, 30, and Galen Black, 95. The injured included the other four group members and five passersby.
"Thank God no one funny died," said group member Charles Rempel.
According to surviving members, the Van Gogh-Goghs were staging a year 2000 readiness test of their office computer systems. The group was attempting to determine what would happen when the computers' internal clocks reached midnight, December 31, 1999.
Computer experts theorize the so-called "Y2K bug" may cause computers to confuse the year 2000 with the year 1900. Experts have said this problem could wreak havoc with a computer's ability to file recipes and amortize loans.
Investigators are still attempting to piece together a timeline of the tragedy. Preliminary reports indicate that toward the end of the test countdown, Childs "freaked out" and threw his Big Gulp at the computer.
Childs then screamed about the apocalypse, threw his second Big Gulp at the fuse box, and fled the scene. The whereabouts of Childs and his third Big Gulp are unknown.
"After he freaked, our computers exploded, our VCR spat tapes at us at high velocity, and Sparky 6000, our robot mascot, suddenly went berserk, screaming 'Get the humanoid! Get the intruder,' " Rempel said.
"All I remember is: as I came out of the bathroom, T. Mike raced by me all panic-stricken and stepped on my foot," said group member Jason Torchinsky, who suffered a minor toe injury in the incident.
"It hurt, I mean, it hurt a lot. He got it right on the nail. Ooh, that nail is going to turn so purple I don't even want to think about it," Torchinsky added. "And then to top things off, when I returned from crying in the bathroom the office was all blown up."
Group member Alan Benson bore the brunt of the blast, suffering first-degree burns all over his torso and heroically shielding the others from much of the explosion's fury.
"Why? Oh God why," Benson wailed as rescue workers loaded him into a meat truck. "Why couldn't it have been Jason or Charles who was horribly burned instead of me?"
While the full details of the incident are not yet known, the Van Gogh-Goghs were quick to assign blame.
"It's T. Mike's fault," Torchinsky said.
"Yep, it's T. Mike's fault," Rempel added.
"Oh God! The pain! Ahhrrrrgggnnnh! Morphine! Morphine!" Benson opined.
"I'm dead and it's all T. Mike's fault," the ghost of Terrell moaned from beyond the grave. "I will walk the earth in unending torture forever, without so much as a PowerBook, palm pilot, cell phone or GameBoy to ease my eternal boredom and loneliness."
"I'm also dead and ... what? Excuse me, I have to go to Heaven now." the soul of Black said.
Victims were treated at the nearby Learning Annex Medical Center, and all but one of the victims have been released.
A hospital spokesman said Rempel was being retained because he still owes money for his appendix operation over two months ago. According to the spokesman, the doctors are giving Rempel 24 hours to "cough up the dough" before they re-implant the excised organ.
The Los Angeles Police Department has issued a Most-Points Bulletin for T. Mike Childs. Citizens are warned not to attempt to approach the subject as he is considered clumsy and extremely incompetent.