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News » News of the Weird

Why Not?

A weekly roundup of international news oddities



Why Not?
The 95-year-old Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster at Belmont Park in Mission Beach, California, is a National Historic Landmark, but it, along with all of the other rides in the park, has been closed to riders since March. To keep it in good repair and ready for reopening, the coaster must run 12 times every day, and park mechanics discussing how reopening would happen hit upon an idea: They loaded the coaster's 24 seats with giant plush animals from the park's midway games prize stash. "People are loving it," Steve Thomas, the park's general manager, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "We've seen tons of videos and pictures that people have been posting online." Thomas said when the coaster reopens, he may keep the furry riders on board to help with social distancing rules.

Least Competent Criminal
An unnamed 29-year-old man in Berlin, Germany, triggered alarms at a supermarket on June 5 when he tried to leave without paying for $5.65 in merchandise. The Associated Press reported that police had little trouble apprehending the man because, in his hurried escape, he left his 8-year-old son behind. Not only did the burglar's "accessory" help police identify him, but the thief fell down as he was escaping and ended up in the hospital.

Can't Possibly Be True
The Daily Star reports that a 30-year-old man turned up at Zhaoqing First People's Hospital in Guangdong, China, on June 3 suffering from abdominal pain. Doctors performed a series of scans before discovering a freshwater fish in the man's large intestine, the presence of which he explained by saying he had accidently sat on it. "Do you think I'm an idiot?" one of the doctors replied. The spiny fins of the Mozambique tilapia had caused ruptures in the man's intestine and had to be removed through his abdomen by surgery, but the man survived the ordeal and recovered.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit
Canadian Glen Richard Mousseau's adventure with Michigan law enforcement began on May 10, when he was arrested in St. Clair County driving a U-Haul truck and in possession of $97,000. He cooperated with authorities, admitting he was the owner of a submarine seized by the Border Patrol April 23 and he had been using it to ferry drugs between Michigan and Ontario, Canada. Mlive.com reported Mousseau agreed to await the investigation's outcome in a local hotel, but on May 22, federal agents said he had absconded, leaving behind five phones, a laptop and a diving suit. On June 5, Border Patrol officers observed packages thrown into the Detroit River from a vessel entering U.S. waters and found Mousseau unconscious in the water with 265 pounds of marijuana tethered to him with a tow strap. He's being held on charges of smuggling and possession of a controlled substance.

Several sailors of the Royal Navy found themselves in over their heads on May 30 as their plan for a beach barbecue and beers in Cornwall got out of hand. A witness told The Sun, "They were smashed and hadn't bothered to watch for the tide." The Daily Star reported that one partier became cut off from the group, and when another went out to rescue him, they both struggled. Emergency services had to be called in, and one of the sailors had to be lifted off a cliff with a winch, the coast guard confirmed. The Royal Navy expressed its regret that emergency services were needed, but they "remain grateful for their help."

Questionable Judgment
Shaun Michaelsen, 41, told police in Jupiter, Florida, he was only trying to be a "cool father" when he let a friend's 12-year-old daughter drive his Jeep on June 8. Officer Craig Yochum saw the Jeep make an illegal U-turn and speed away, the Associated Press reported, so he followed as the vehicle hit speeds of 85 mph in a 45 mph zone. The underage driver told Yochum that Michaelson, who admitted he had been drinking, told her to drive fast. He was arrested and is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail.

Richland County (South Carolina) sheriff's officers are searching for a man and woman who held a Pizza Hut manager at gunpoint on May 29 in Columbia—because they didn't receive the 2-liter bottle of Pepsi they had ordered for delivery with their pie. The manager told WIS the couple entered the restaurant complaining about the delivery, then came behind the counter and as the man held out a gun, the woman removed a bottle of Pepsi from the cooler. Once the goods were in hand, the man put his gun away, and they left the store.

Bright Idea
A tech startup called ChampTrax has a novel solution for the problem of professional sports being played in empty stadiums. Jason Rubenstein told Fox4 News in Kansas City, Missouri, that his company's Hear Me Cheer technology allows fans watching at home to enable a microphone on a phone or laptop as they watch a game; the sounds fans make will then be captured and aggregated into a single track for the broadcast. "If you're alone in your home, what's the point of booing if no one can hear you?" Rubenstein asked. ESPN featured Hear Me Cheer on a June 9 boxing broadcast and during the NFL draft in April, and the company says it is in talks with other networks and sports leagues.

Seniors at Ashley Ridge High School in Dorchester County, South Carolina, were excited about attending their in-person graduation ceremony on June 10. Administrators planned limited proceedings on the field at Swamp Fox Stadium, where students and spectators could spread out in keeping with COVID-19 restrictions. But as Principal Karen Radcliffe began to introduce the valedictorian and salutatorian, the field's sprinklers switched on, spraying the field and sending people scrambling. "Everyone started running to the sides to try and avoid getting soaked before getting their diploma!" senior Megan Mowrer told WCBD.

Everyone's a Critic
Saxophonist Christian Beck, 50, has been treating his neighbors to two hours of music from his front porch in Sible Hedingham, England, every Saturday during the local coronavirus lockdown. Passersby would stop and listen, residents of Forest Home care facility nearby were particular fans, and money has been raised for charity through donations people have left. But Beck told the Daily Gazette his Saturday concerts will come to an end on June 13 after a letter from the Braintree Council informed him that an official noise complaint has been lodged against him. "Playing the saxophone is like a therapy for me ... and it's upsetting to think that someone complained," Beck told the Daily Gazette. "I didn't want to go against anyone so I'm calling it a day."

Police Report
• Angel Castro, 39, was arrested in Schenectady, New York, on June 9 after police found him and a missing golf course beverage cart at the Kelsey Commons apartment complex. Police spokesman Sgt. Nick Mannix told The Daily Gazette a worker at the Stadium Golf Club had driven the beverage cart up to the clubhouse to restock it with drinks when the suspect jumped inside and took off. Castro was charged with felony grand larceny.

• Mark Alan Johnson, 67, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, was sentenced June 3 to five years in state prison following his 15th arrest for drunk driving. Most recently he was arrested in November after steering his pickup into a ditch near his home. At the time, his license had been revoked, and his blood alcohol content was measured at almost twice the legal limit, even though Johnson told police he'd had only two glasses of wine and a can of beer, The Smoking Gun reported. Johnson's attorney, Renee Taber, noted that Johnson is a "likable, down-to-earth, blue-collar man," but his "downfall is that he is an alcoholic." After four years of confinement, he'll be eligible for the state's substance abuse program.

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