Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird
Dropping Clues: (1) Steven Long, 23, was arrested in South Daytona, Fla., in May on suspicion of theft after a patrol officer spotted him pedaling his bike down a street with a 59-inch TV set positioned between his lap and the handlebars. (2) Matthew Davis, 32, pleaded guilty to theft in Cairns, Australia, in June. He had been arrested on suspicion of theft because police had noticed a large office safe protruding "precariously" out the back of his vehicle as he drove by. (3) Stephen Kirkbride, 46, was convicted of theft in Kendal, England, in June after a clothing store clerk, called in to court to aid the prosecution, pointed out that Kirkbride had in fact worn to court the very coat he had stolen from the store.
- Though a university study released in June linked birth defects to the controversial mining industry practice of mountaintop removal, lawyers for the National Mining Association offered a quick, industry-friendly rebuttal: Since the area covered by the study was in West Virginia, any birth defects could well be explained merely as inbreeding. (A week later, the lawyers thought better and edited out that insinuation.)
- Michael Jones, 50, told a magistrate in Westminster, England, in May that he did not "assault" a police officer when he urinated near him on a railway station platform a month earlier. Jones claimed, instead, that he was "urinating in self-defense," in that the water supply had been "poisoned by the mafia." The magistrate explained that Jones' argument "is not realistically going to be a viable defense."
- Laura Diprimo, 43, and Thomas Lee, 28, were arrested for child endangerment in Louisville, Ky., in June, after allegedly leaving their infant locked in a hot car (91-degree heat index outside) while frolicking elsewhere (drinking at the Deja Vu club). According to a report on WDRB-TV, while the two were in the police car en route to jail, Lee complained that the back seat of the cruiser was uncomfortably warm.
- Undignified, Ironic Deaths: (1) A 55-year-old man participating in a protest of New York's mandatory-helmet law was killed after losing control of his motorcycle and hitting his head on the pavement. Doctors said in all likelihood the man would have survived had he been wearing a regulation helmet (LaFayette, N.Y., July). (2) An 18-year-old man, celebrating on the evening of May 21 after it had become clear that the world would not end as predicted by a radio evangelist, drowned after jumping playfully off a bridge into Michigan's Kalamazoo River.
The Continuing Crisis
The veterans' support organization Home for Our Troops had recently started to build a 2,700-square-foot house in Augusta, Ga., to ease life for Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens, who had suffered concussive head injuries in Afghanistan and is partially paralyzed. However, in June, the Knob Hill Property Owners Association, which had provisionally approved the design, changed its mind. "The problem is," one association member told the Augusta Chronicle, there are "5,000-square-foot homes all the way up and down the street" and that such a "small" house would bring down property values. "It just doesn't fit."
The Pervo-American Community
First Things First: Alan Buckley, 44, on holiday from Cheshire, England, was arrested in Orlando in June and accused of taking an up-skirt photograph of a woman at a Target store. Buckley's child had gotten sick and was admitted to Orlando's Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and Buckley was apparently killing time at Target after visiting with the child (and was later identified by witnesses because he was still wearing his hospital visitor's sticker, with his name on it).
© 2011 Chuck Shepherd