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News Quirks 

Published July 18, 2012 at 10:38 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

After pleading guilty to robbery and agreeing to undergo drug rehab to avoid prison in Oregon, James Tindell fled the state. Officials located him, thanks to postings on his Facebook page. “Catch me if you can,” he taunted, followed by “I’m in Alabama.” He also posted a sonogram of his unborn son that showed the name of the Alabama hospital where it was taken. After Tindell was arrested and returned to Multnomah County, Judge Eric J. Bloch sentenced him to 2½ years in prison and ordered him to reimburse the state the $200 it cost to fly him back. “The way we found out where James Tindell was, was through Facebook,” deputy district attorney Michael Schmidt said. “And it’s not because we were super sleuths.” (Portland’s Oregonian)

Inflammability Issues

When a Canadian tourist broke his foot while camping on a remote island in Norway, he lay there for three days waiting to be discovered. When no help came, the 25-year-old man lit a fire, hoping the smoke would attract rescuers. It did, but not before the fire got out of control, burned down the man’s tent and then destroyed a large portion of the 178-square-mile island’s foliage. Two army helicopters and 20 firefighters were needed to douse the blaze. “It’s illegal to start this kind of fire,” said Joran Bugge, who led the rescue operation, “but in this case the police aren’t going to take any action.” (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Brett Sigworth said that after he applied Banana Boat Sport Performance spray-on sunscreen while barbecuing, he went to move some of the charcoal briquettes around, and all of a sudden his body caught on fire. “I went into complete panic mode and screamed,” he recalled after being treated for second-degree burns. “I’ve never experienced pain like that in my life.” Banana Boat’s maker said it takes the matter “very seriously” and promised “a prompt investigation.” (CBS News)

The Perils of Sitting

After exploding toilets injured at least 14 people, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of the Sloan Flushmate III Pressure-Assist Flushing System. The device uses air and water pressure to ensure a powerful flush but can burst inside toilet tanks, releasing stored pressure, which the CPSC said “can lift the tank lid and shatter the tank, posing impact or laceration hazards to consumers.” More than 300 of the units have burst in toilet tanks. (Reuters)

When a 65-year-old man who was camping with a friend in Ontario went into a wooden outhouse and left the door open, a black bear dragged him from the outhouse, bit him on his head and neck, and slashed his arms, neck and head. According to provincial police Sgt. David Pinchin, the man’s friend heard the commotion and shot the bear. “He was on the john,” the victim’s son said after his father was treated for his wounds. “He’s scratched up pretty bad.” (Winnipeg Free Press)

Citing a report by the National Counter Terrorism Center that terrorist attacks killed 17 U.S. civilians in 2011 and 15 the year before, the Atlantic magazine noted that Americans “are as likely to be killed by their own furniture as by terrorism.” Since September 11, 2001, 238 civilians have died from terrorist attacks, whereas 293 Americans died from furniture falling on them. (The Atlantic)

Think of the Children

When London Olympics chief starter Alan Bell, 61, agreed to signal the start of sports-day events at Scotland’s Gartocharn Primary School, West Dunbartonshire Council officials said he couldn’t use his starting pistol because it might frighten the children. The council first suggested that Bell, who has started more than 25,000 races, including hundreds of primary school events, could play a recording of a starting pistol from an iPod but then told Bell he could use a klaxon. “Anyone who believes they would be frightened by a starting pistol has never experienced the noise at a typical 3-year-old’s birthday party,” one parent said. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

‘Ted’ in Real Life

Charles Marshall, 28, was arrested for the fourth time in the past two years for having sex with a teddy bear after employees at a Cincinnati health clinic spotted him pleasuring himself in an alley. His first arrest occurred in February 2010, when witnesses reported he engaged “with a teddy bear in mens bathroom” at a Hamilton County public library. He was arrested in November 2010 for “masturbating w/a stuffed animal (teddy bear)” and in August 2011 for “masturbating using a teddy bear in a public place where minors were likely to be present.” (The Smoking Gun)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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