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Revenge of the Mobile Devices



Curses, Foiled Again
Police accused Troy Ridling, 29, of stealing a computer from his former church in Owasso, Okla., after the software tracking company Covenant Eyes alerted a church staffer that the computer was being used to look up pornography. Upon being told that the company had received a call about removing the laptop’s Internet monitoring software, the Owasso First Assembly of God notified police. They traced the call to Ridling, who confessed. (Tulsa’s KRMG Radio)

• To celebrate getting permission to remove the ankle monitor that held her in house arrest in Osceola County, Fla., Angela Estrella, 37, rented a car and headed for New York City. A few hundred miles up Interstate 95, the rental car broke down. When the tow truck sent to rescue her arrived, Estrella asked driver Mike Frazier if he’d take her to New York. He declined, but when he turned his back to call the car-rental company, authorities said she jumped into the rig and drove off. The truck was equipped with a GPS, however, allowing law enforcement to track and arrest her. (The Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Revenge of the Mobile Devices
Texting contributed to the crash of a medical helicopter near Mosby, Mo., according to National Transportation Safety Board investigators. Despite the helicopter operator’s rule forbidding pilots to use electronic devices during flight, pilot James Freudenberg, 34, had exchanged 20 personal text messages in the two hours before the crash, including one 19 minutes before. Officials said the texting apparently prevented Freudenberg from noticing the helicopter was running out of fuel. (Los Angeles Times)

• Smartphone accidents are on the rise. The Chinese website reported that a Hong Kong man named Du blamed his Samsung Galaxy S4 phone for burning down his house. Du said he was playing the game Love Machine on the phone when its battery popped. Startled, he threw the phone on a sofa, which burst into flames that quickly spread. Later that month, an 18-year-old Swiss woman received third-degree burns on her leg after her Samsung Galaxy S3 exploded in her pocket. In the same month, a Chinese woman reportedly died from an electric shock when she answered a call on her iPhone while it was charging; a similar occurrence sent a Chinese man into a coma. (The Huffington Post)

• Believing that he may have accidentally dropped his cell phone down a garbage chute in his Palatine, Ill., apartment building, Roger Mirro, 56, went looking for it in a trash compactor, which crushed him to death. (Chicago Tribune)

Illuminating Conclusion
Police responding to a burglary alarm went to the wrong house in Fort Worth, Texas, shot the 72-year-old homeowner, then blamed “poor lighting around the home” for their mistake. Limited to using their flashlights, Officers B.B. Hanlon and R.P. Hoeppner encountered homeowner Jerry Waller, who they reported “was armed with a handgun standing near the corner of the home” and shot him six times, explaining that they acted in self defense. Waller’s son, Chris, disputed the officers’ account, insisting that his father “never stepped outside of his garage” and “was shot multiple times in the chest only a few steps away from the doorway to his kitchen.” (Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram)

Double Jeopardy
Ye Mengyuan, 16, a passenger aboard the Asiana Airline flight that crash landed in San Francisco in July, survived the crash and was thrown from the plane but died when she was run over by a rescue vehicle responding to the emergency, according to San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault. (CNN)

Avoirdupois Follies
New Zealand authorities declined to renew the work visa of Albert Buitenhuis, a chef from South Africa, because he’s too fat. Weighing 286 pounds, Buitenhuis is at “significant risk” of medical complications, according to an immigration official, who pointed out, “It is important that all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimize costs and demands on New Zealand’s health services.” His wife, Marthie Buitenhuis, noted that their annual work visas had been renewed with “very little problem” since they moved to Christchurch six years ago, even though her husband now weighs 65 pounds less now than he did then. (BBC News)

Cold Case
When Canadian authorities featured the case of Lucy Johnson in their missing-persons file, her daughter used the information to advertise the disappearance in newspapers, including in the Yukon, where her mother once lived. Royal Canadian Mounted Police official Curtis Harling said it wasn’t long before the daughter, Linda Evans, heard from a woman saying she’s Johnson’s daughter from a later marriage. Johnson disappeared in 1961, but her husband, Marvin Johnson, didn’t report her missing until 1965, arousing police suspicions. Marvin Johnson died in the late 1990s. Harling said the sisters were pleased to find out they had other family members but added that their mother, now 77 and living under a different name, has a lot of questions to answer. (The Canadian Press)

Bucket-List Follies
After 44 years of dreaming and 38 years of being overruled by his wife, Barry Strang, 59, finally bought a motorcycle. He picked it up at the dealership in Lander, Wyo., but had driven it just three miles when he collided with a tractor-trailer and was killed. “It was something he wanted his whole life,” Pam Strang said. “It’s like my son said, ‘Dad went out with the biggest smile on his face.’” (Casper Star-Tribune)

Respect Your Elders—Or Else
Chinese legislators amended a law to require people to visit or keep in touch with their elderly parents or risk being sued. “It is mainly to stress the right of elderly people to ask for emotional support,” Xiao Jinming, a law professor at Shandong University who helped draft the measure, explained. “We want to emphasize there is such a need.” (Associated Press)

Droning On
In the latest backlash against unmanned aerial vehicles, town officials in Deer Trail, Colo., are considering a proposed ordinance that would grant hunting permits allowing residents to shoot down drones. The permits would cost $25, and anyone who presents evidence of shooting down a drone would receive $100. “This is a pre-emptive strike,” said Phillip Steel, 48, who proposed the measure and collected enough signatures on a petition to require local officials to act on it. “I don’t want to live in a surveillance society.” The Federal Aviation Administration responded that people who fire guns at drones could be prosecuted or fined, but Steel insisted, “The FAA doesn’t have the power to make a law.” (Associated Press)

Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.