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News Quirks 

Curses, Foiled Again Police arrested a man they said bought fake drugs with fake money. Kyle Kochelek, 21, handed an undercover officer in Unicoi County, Tenn., “obviously bad money,” according to investigators, who pointed out to the Johnson City Press that some of the bills were printed on just one side.

• After police arrested Elizabeth Russell, 45, and her 13-year-old daughter for shoplifting in Plainville, Conn., Daryll Russell, 47, came to the police station to bail out his wife and daughter, only to be arrested himself when a computer check turned up an outstanding warrant. The Hartford Courant reported that when son Jonathan Russell, 19, showed up to post bail for the three, police found he was wanted for violating probation and arrested him, too.

Nuts Behind the Wheel After crashing into two vehicles and leaving the scene, then vandalizing the lobby of a church, Veronica Hollifield, 77, led police on a low-speed chase through Port Orange, Fla. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the woman drove her 1999 Toyota at speeds between 10 and 15 mph, scattering pedestrians and refusing repeated demands to stop. At one point, an officer ran alongside her car, and managed to open the car door and grab Hollifield’s arm, but she put the car in reverse and rammed a squad car behind her before taking off. She then slammed into another police cruiser and headed down a dead-end street. An officer threw stop sticks in her path, flattening three of her tires. She continued driving until she crashed into a tree.

• Nebraska state police reported that an 88-year-old man led troopers on a 40-mile chase down the wrong side of Interstate 80 at speeds between 30 mph and 70 mph. Capt. Jim Parish told the Omaha World Herald that the man just smiled and waved at troopers who pulled alongside and shined a spotlight into his minivan, yelling frantically for him to pull over. Even when they put down stop sticks that flattened his tires, he kept on going. When he did finally heed the flashing lights and stop, he wasn’t drunk, just confused, Parish said, explaining that the man’s wife had sent him out for dinner, and he got lost.

Mensa Reject of the Week After Patrick Larue, 24, walked into the Hyannis, Mass., emergency room seeking help for burns and smoke inhalation, he explained that he had been talking on his cellphone in his rental car with the motor running when it ran out of gas. Fire Lt. Roger Cadrin told the Cape Cod Times the man said he burned himself after starting a small fire in the vehicle to keep warm. Larue was hospitalized, Cadrin said, and the car was “heavily damaged.”

Log Cabin of the Future FairPoint Communications reported that since last fall, thieves have cut down and stolen 35 telephone poles in Oakland, Maine. FairPoint supervisor Simon Thorne explained the poles had no wires attached to them and were left behind when the company installed replacement poles next to them.

Lucky — Up to a Point A man who lost control of his vehicle and drove off a 200-foot cliff near Los Banos, Calif., survived the rollover accident, only to be killed while trying to get help. Aria Day Fletcher, 23, a passenger in the Toyota Tundra, told California Highway Patrol investigators that the driver climbed back up to the highway, apparently to flag down assistance, when he was hit and killed by a Honda Accord.

Plane Geometry After Australia’s Jetstar airline made 350-pound Samantha Scafe pay for an extra seat “for other people’s comfort because of my size,” Scafe said she was assigned two seats that were not next to each other. Jetstar corporate affairs general manager Simon Westaway told the Cairns Post “an error was made in the process of booking” but said the airline’s policy required Scafe to pay for both seats.

Animal Magnetism Florida wildlife managers, hoping to prevent crocodiles from returning to residential neighborhoods after they have been removed, began taping magnets to the animals’ heads to disrupt their homing ability. “We said, ‘Hey, we might as well give this a try,’” Lindsey Hord, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s crocodile response coordinator, told Reuters. Hord explained that crocodiles are persistently territorial and will travel up to 10 miles a week to return to urban areas when biologists remove them. Since launching the experiment in January by taping “a common old laboratory magnet” to two crocodiles, Hord and his co-workers have claimed success, although they admit it “is by no means a really well-developed scientific study.” One croc was run over by a car and died, but the other has yet to return.

Pay Attention Andrew Riley was listening to his iPod at home in Pomfret, Conn., when his alarm company called to tell him his house was on fire. After firefighters were summoned and quickly extinguished the blaze, which started on the upper floor of the house, Riley said he was so engrossed in his music that he hadn’t smelled smoke or heard the smoke alarm go off.

Hard Times Worsen Italy’s fashion industry has asked the government for a bailout as demand for designer clothes and accessories has plummeted. “The Italian clothing and textile sector risks falling to pieces under the weight of the international economic crisis,” Michele Tronconi, the head of Sistema Moda Italia, told Italian media. “We don’t want someone to pedal for us. We know how to ride a bicycle well, but at this time a push is necessary.”

Improbable Cause After Yorktown, Ind., police Officer Mike Daugherty arrested Daniel T. Doster Jr., 42, who faces charges of vicarious sexual gratification, he reported, “Daniel admitted to me that he was standing at the mailbox masturbating to show his neighbors who was boss.”

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Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.


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