Best. Florida Man. Ever.

Florida man sets self on fire while setting up burning cross display

A Florida man suffered second-degree burns after police said he set himself on fire putting up a Halloween display that involved lighting a wooden cross on fire.

Ron Nielson, 50, was setting up the display with his wife outside their Palm Bay-area home Tuesday. Neighbors told police Nielson was creating a circle of candles with a wooden cross in the middle when he accidentally lit himself on fire, according to Yvonne Martinez, a spokeswoman for the Palm Bay Police Department.

“It started as some kind of prank, apparently, and involved a wooden cross. We don’t know if he was trying to light the cross or the candles but when he did, his clothes caught fire,” Martinez said, according to Florida Today.

When Nielson poured gasoline onto the display, his clothes caught fire, leaving him with burns on about 50 percent of his body, mainly scarring his upper-torso area.

As is typical in these cases, I am guessing that alcohol was involved.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.


  1. jd says:

    Why is it always Florida?
    -jd, Tampa, FL

  2. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @jd: I feel your pain.

    -Gromitt Gunn, TX.

  3. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Instant karma.

    And pretty much what people mean when they say “being stupid should be painful.”

  4. John Burgess says:

    @jd: Because the weird migrate for good weather and low taxes? That’s my excuse.

  5. Grumpy Realist says:

    @John Burgess: Hasn’t that been the argument for Californy? All the weird people kept going West to find a place where they could ‘free their own weird’ and finally ran smack into the ocean?

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    I am guessing that alcohol was involved.

    Safe bet- most of the really stupid things I have done have certainly involved alcohol. I have a broken big toe and a broken collarbone to prove it. I was reminded of this recently when the warm summer became the cool fall and they both started aching.

  7. John Burgess says:

    @Grumpy Realist: California ain’t cheap. Weird usually requires minimal fixed expenses so that surplus cash can go to the weird endeavors. Living in CA means you’re funding others’ weirdness at the expense of your own.

  8. Woody says:

    Another Darwin Award contestant.

    I know that hammerheads exist everywhere, but when I hear of a particularly egregious act of utter insanity, my first response is “Where in Florida?”

  9. john personna says:

    @John Burgess:

    Loss aversion?

    It isn’t the tax that matters, it is the net.

  10. Neil Hudelson says:


    I’m not a huge fan of him, but Adam Corolla used to have this bit called “Germany or Florida.” It’s frightening how often the weirdest newspaper articles almost always occur in one I those two places. Something in the water.

  11. rudderpedals says:

    Florida and Texas are America’s bilges. Everything drains there.
    rp – Florida

  12. al-Ameda says:

    The only thing missing here – otherwise this would have been a world class story – is if the guy should have been George Zimmerman.

    To paraphrase Hunter Thompson: When going gets weird, the weird go to Florida.

  13. Rick Almeida says:

    I would like to thank FL and TX.

    – Rick Almeida, SC

  14. Dave D says:

    @jd: Florida has the most transparent access to police files and hospital records. This means that anytime the cops show up, reporters have almost instant access to police reports. This means anything weird or stupid is likely to be immediately written about.