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News » News Quirks

Things That Go Boom



Curses, Foiled Again
Samantha Ellen Ward, 24, presented a driver’s license and debit card to withdraw money from a bank in Boynton Beach, Fla., but the teller looked up the account, noted the license had been reported stolen and summoned police. Ward pointed to a Chevy Tahoe in the parking lot and told officers that three black women driving it had given her the stolen identification and forced her to withdraw the money. Officers checked the vehicle and saw it belonged to an elderly white couple. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

•A city bus driver in Barrie, Ontario, who searched a knapsack that a passenger had left behind, hoping to discover the owner’s identify, found it contained about a pound of marijuana. Soon after, the knapsack’s owner called Barrie Transit looking for his property. When he showed up to claim it, police were waiting and arrested the 21-year-old Port McNicoll man. (The Barrie Examiner)

Things That Go Boom
When a heating and air conditioning contractor heading to work in Virginia Beach, Va., pressed the key remote to unlock his truck’s door, the vehicle exploded, hurling parts into neighbors’ yards. Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack Crandell said fumes from an acetylene bottle stored on the truck likely escaped overnight and ignited when the remote was activated. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Techno Follies
A glitch in the Apple Maps app on newer iPhones and iPads directs users to a runway at Alaska’s Fairbanks International Airport instead of to the passenger terminal, according to airport official Angie Spear, who noted that twice in September, drivers continued across a runway in use. Drivers assume they’re being properly directed, Spear explained, because they can see the terminal building. (Associated Press)

• A Google Street View car hit a bus while taking photos for Google Maps and Google Earth in Bogor, Indonesia. Police said the driver appeared to panic and tried to drive off, but hit a second bus and then a truck. “We take incidents like this very seriously,” Vishnu Mahmud, Google’s head of communications in Indonesia said. (Agence France-Presse)

• Earlier this year, Google denied reports that one of its Street View cars had run over a donkey in Botswana. “Because of the way our 360-degree imagery is put together, it looked to some that our car had been involved in an unseemly hit-and-run,” Google Maps official Kei Kawai explained. “The donkey was lying in the path, perhaps enjoying a dust bath, before moving safely aside as our car drove past.” (BBC News)

When Guns Are Outlawed
A pizza delivery driver told Indianapolis police that a man pressed something hard in his back, ordered him to “step away from the vehicle,” and then robbed him of more than $30 in wings and pizza, his $250 smartphone and his wallet. As the robber ran off, the driver noticed that what he thought was a gun turned out to be a stapler. (Indianapolis’s WXIN-TV)

Way to Go
A 68-year-old man who broke his ankle while hiking in rough terrain was being lifted by a winch into a helicopter when he apparently slipped out of the rescue sling and fell 100 feet to his death. “I understand he was at the door of the helicopter, and they were attempting to get him into the helicopter,” Ambulance Victoria chief executive Greg Sassella said, acknowledging that “helicopter operations are high risk.” (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

• Helicopter pilot Carl Enlow, 69, died while giving rides at a fair in Bloomsburg, Pa. Organizers said the veteran pilot had exited the chopper, but his hat blew off. When he reached for it, the spinning rotor struck him. (Associated Press)

Paint It White
Canada’s military is testing a stealth snowmobile intended for secret missions in Arctic regions. The
Department of National Defence’s top priority for the $599,000 prototype vehicle is silence, which it achieves by switching from its gasoline-powered engine to a “silent mode” electric motor. Arctic policy expert Michael Byers, who teaches international law at the University of British Columbia, suggested that technology-obsessed defense officials have “been watching too many Bond movies” and questioned the necessity of developing such a vehicle. “I don’t see a whole lot of evidence that criminals and terrorists are scooting around Canada’s North on snowmobiles and that we have to sneak up on them,” he said. (The Canadian Press)

Gun Shy
After a worker at Princeton University reported hearing gunshots, police locked down a campus administrative building for several hours before announcing that the report was unfounded. The New Jersey school’s Department of Public Safety later explained the sounds that triggered the alarm were from a maintenance worker using a hammer and chisel. (Associated Press)

Things Going Better
The Coca-Cola Company announced plans to offer water, electricity and Internet connections in 20 countries by erecting 150 kiosks that company official Serena Levy called “a downtown in a box.” Ideally, the company said, women will run the kiosks, which may also sell Coke products. (The New York Times)

Seeing Isn’t Believing
Having been declared dead in 1994, eight years after disappearing from his home in Arcadia, Ohio, Donald Eugene Miller Jr. resurfaced in 2005. In early October, Miller, now 61, went to court to have the ruling changed, but Hancock County Judge Allan Davis denied the request, citing a three-year limit on appeals. “I don’t know where that leaves you, but you’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned,” Davis said, calling the case a “strange, strange situation.” (Findlay’s The Courier)

Mother of the Year
Authorities in Akron, Ohio, accused Deanna J. Hillyer, 31, of helping her two sons, ages 15 and 11, attack two brothers, 22 and 18, who refused the 11-year-old’s demand for a cigarette. Police said the mother used a metal tire pressure gauge to hit the younger brother in the face and did nothing to stop her sons from knocking both men to the ground with a bicycle and then kicking them. “A normal mother would tell her kids to get in the car and go,” a witness said, “but she got out of her car and got right into their faces.” (Akron Beacon)

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