This week in odd news: Dino mash, big avocado, elf returns
By RICHARD A. SOMMA
Dec. 09, 2017
SOUTH HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) — Police in New Jersey say a woman was drunk when she continued driving with a mass transit sign sticking out of the roof of her car.
The 52-year-old was pulled over Saturday on Route 46 in South Hackensack when police noticed something odd. Police say the woman had a New Jersey Transit sign protruding through the roof of her car.
Police say the woman didn't even know the sign was there.
South Hackensack police say the sign got stuck in the vehicle when the driver was in Secaucus before she was pulled over.
The woman has been charged with driving while intoxicated and careless driving.
NORTHPORT, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities say a woman arriving at a Long Island court to answer a marijuana possession summons was smoking pot when she parked her vehicle in the local police chief's spot.
Newsday reports that the 26-year-old woman had been ticketed in May for unlawful possession of marijuana. Police say she was arriving for her court appearance in Northport on Monday night when she cut off an unmarked police car in the parking lot while talking on her cellphone.
Police say she then pulled into the parking spot clearly marked as reserved for the village's police chief, Bill Ricca. He says when the officers asked the woman to roll down her window, pot smoke billowed out.
Police issued the woman another appearance ticket for unlawful possession of marijuana. She was also ticketed for using her cellphone while driving.
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Police say a Nevada woman was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after she drove down a highway the wrong way, danced atop her SUV and attempted to flee from officers on a kid's scooter.
Police in the city of Sparks answered a call Saturday for a wrong-way driver and found 27-year-old Sabra Bewley's Jeep Cherokee some 20 yards up a hill off a highway.
Officers said Bewley was acting erratically and dancing on top of the Cherokee before attempting to get away on a kid's scooter.
Police detained Bewley and took her to a hospital before she was booked into the Washoe County jail.
She was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, trafficking MDMA, destruction of property and resisting arrest.
MONTCLAIR, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey ice cream shop is changing its logo of a cartoon cow with a pronounced derriere after the play on words drew complaints that it was sexist.
Montclair studio and gallery owner Amy Tingle accused Dairy Air Ice Cream of sexualizing women to sell ice cream. The logo shows a female cow with her rear exposed eating ice cream.
The Record reports the Creativity Caravan owner wrote in an open letter to the community that she was "repulsed and offended."
The logo was not visible outside the store. But it was inside on furniture, walls and cups.
The store's manager, Natalie DeRosa, wrote on Facebook that Dairy Air Ice Cream takes the complaints seriously and is working "to change the cow to be more fun and less sexy."
WASHINGTON (AP) — With a bill like a duck but teeth like a croc's, a swanlike neck and killer claws, a new dinosaur species uncovered by scientists looks like something Dr. Seuss could have dreamed up.
It also had flippers like a penguin, and while it walked like an ostrich it could also swim. That's the first time swimming ability has been shown for a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur.
The tiny creature, only about 18 inches (45 centimeters) tall, roamed 75 million years ago in what is now Mongolia. Its full curled-up skeleton was found in a sandstone rock.
"It's such a peculiar animal," said Dennis Voeten, a paleontology researcher at Palacky University in the Czech Republic. "It combines different parts we knew from other groups into this one small animal."
In a study released Wednesday by the journal Nature , Voeten and coauthors named it Halszkaraptor escuilliei (HAHL-shka-rap-tor ES-key-lay-ee) or "Halszka" after the late Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmolska.
Paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, who didn't participate in the study, called it "a pretty crazy chimera: a swan neck and dinosaur body, but with a mouthful of tiny teeth and hands and feet that look like they might be good for swimming."
Its mashup body let it run and hunt on the ground and fish in fresh water, said study co-author Paul Tafforeau. He's a paleontologist at the ESRF , known as the European Synchrotron in Grenoble, France, a powerful X-ray generator where numerous tests were made on the fossil.
Lead author Andrea Cau, a paleontologist at the Geological Museum Capellini in Bologna, Italy, said he was at first highly suspicious about the fossil's authenticity, both because of its appearance and the fact that the rock containing the skeleton had been smuggled out of Mongolia and left in a private collector's hands.
"I asked myself, 'Is this a real, natural skeleton, or an artifact, a chimera? If this is a fake, how could I demonstrate it?'" Cau said in an email. "Assuming it was a fake instead of starting assuming that the fossil is genuine was the most appropriate way to start the investigation of such a bizarre fossil."
So researchers used the Synchrotron to create three-dimensional images of the fossil, which showed the creature was indeed a single animal and not a concoction built up from several sources. For example, an arm hidden in the rock perfectly matched the visible left arm, and lines indicating growth matched up across the bones.
Even though the creature wasn't dreamed up by Dr. Seuss, it got a blessing from a Dr. Sues.
Hans Sues, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution who wasn't part of the research, praised the work and said it "shows again how amazingly diverse dinosaurs were."
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — A Hawaii woman is waiting to hear back from Guinness World Records to find out if the massive avocado she snagged is the world's largest.
Pamela Wang of the Big Island found the 5-pound avocado Sunday on a walk, the West Hawaii Today newspaper reported .
"I see avocados every day, and I pick up avocados every day, but this one ... it was hard to miss," Wang said. "It was as big as my head."
She met up with friends and showed them the enormous avocado. Wang's friends began making inquiries online, uncovering information that indicated that the avocado might just be the largest on record.
Wang submitted an application to Guinness and expects to hear back within two months. She had Ken Love, executive director of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers, witness the avocado's weighing. Guinness requires an expert to be present.
"I've seen (avocados) longer and I've seen them fatter, but not both," said Love, who verified the fruit's weight at 5.23 pounds. "I think people have other ones that they don't weigh, but I think this one, it was way up there."
Elizabeth Montoya, assistant public relations manager of Guinness World Records America Inc., wrote that the company doesn't have a category for the largest avocado. It does, however, have one for the heaviest.
Guinness verified in January 2009 an avocado submitted by Gabriel Ramirez Nahim of Caracas, Venezuela, which weighed 4 pounds, 13.2 ounces, Montoya said.
Wang said she found the avocado under a tree that hangs over a street. Anything overhanging or dropped outside a private property line is free for anyone to claim.
MIAMI (AP) — A monster Burmese python has been captured by a snake hunter in the Florida Everglades.
The female snake caught Friday at the Big Cypress National Preserve measured just over 17 feet (5 meters) long and weighed 132 pounds.
The snake was captured by a hunter participating in the South Florida Water Management District's python elimination program and beats the hunt's previous record length by 2 inches.
Snake hunter Jason Leon tells the Miami Herald he spotted the snake in submerged in the water and quickly grabbed it and shot it in the head. He said a smaller male python was nearby but not captured.
So far this year, hunters have captured 738 of the invasive snakes, which have become the top predator in the Everglades.
CLARKSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Police are cautioning residents to stay away from a large hybrid coyote that's been wandering around a New York City suburb.
WCBS says the animal in Rockland County is part coyote and part wolf — known as a "coywolf."
The "coywolf" is larger than most coyotes - up to 75 pounds. They have different coloring, with more gray in their coats.
Experts say people who encounter a coywolf should make a lot of noise and wave their arms to make themselves seem bigger.
Clarkstown police say they would summon a licensed trapper or even shoot the animal if it were acting aggressively.
Otherwise, it will likely just go back into the woods.
FLORISSANT, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman has won the lottery twice in a single day.
KSDK-TV reports that Nov. 29 was Veronica Buchanan's lucky day. That morning, the Florissant woman won $1,000 from a $10 Monopoly scratch-off ticket she bought at the Bellefontaine BP gas station. She tested her luck again later in the day and bought another $10 scratch-off ticket. That ticket was worth $100,000.
This isn't the first time someone has won two big prizes in one day. Earlier in November, a North Carolina woman won more than $1 million between two lottery prizes in a single day.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Delta flight from New York City to Seattle had to make a stop in Billings after the plane's toilets stopped working and passengers couldn't hold it any longer.
The Billings Gazette reports that the direct flight diverted hundreds of miles south on Saturday to make the emergency bathroom stop.
Delta says that upon landing in Billings, the plane had to taxi to a cargo area because a gate was not available. Delta says ground crews rolled a stairway to the airplane so passengers could "disembark to find relief of built-up pressures."
A flight from New York City to Seattle can take about six hours.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A suburban New York City woman has sued a doctor, claiming he used his cellphone to take a language test while operating on her.
The Journal News reports 70-year-old Mary Edwards, of Port Chester, filed a lawsuit Monday in state Supreme Court against Dr. Eric Fishman and his employer, Westmed Medical Group. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Fishman performed surgery on Edwards to fix varicose veins twice in 2017. According to the lawsuit, Edwards claims Fishman had a conversation in Spanish on his cellphone during the second outpatient procedure.
Edwards' attorney says his client was terrified for the rest of the operation. Edwards claims Fishman later explained he was taking a Spanish proficiency test during the surgery.
A Westmed spokeswoman said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A homeless man who used his last $20 to fill up the gas tank of a stranded motorist in Philadelphia has bought a home with some of the nearly $400,000 raised for him by the woman he saved.
"The feeling is indescribable and (it's) all thanks to the support and generosity that each and every one of you has shown," Johnny Bobbitt Jr. wrote on a GoFundMe page. "I'll continue to thank you every single day for the rest of my life."
Kate McClure, of Florence Township, New Jersey, ran out of gas on an Interstate 95 exit ramp late one night. Bobbitt walked a few blocks to buy her gas.
She didn't have money to repay him at the time, but sought him out days later to give him the money, and visited him a few more times to bring food and water. She and her boyfriend created the online fundraiser page as a thank you and to try to help him get back on his feet. As of Tuesday afternoon the fundraiser has raised more than $397,000.
Bobbitt served in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked as a paramedic in Vance County, North Carolina, before he became homeless.
Details on how he wound up on the streets of Philadelphia have been sparse. Bobbitt has said it was a mix of "bad decisions and bad situations."
In addition to buying his house and eventually his dream truck (a 1999 Ford Ranger), he said he is donating some of his money to a Philadelphia grade school student who is helping another homeless veteran. He hopes his fans continue to pay it forward.
According to the GoFundMe page for that homeless veteran, a student at a Philadelphia Catholic school met the man walking home from school each day. After he learned the man's story, he started the campaign to help him get off the streets and reunite him with his family.
No information was revealed about where Bobbitt's new house is located. Bobbitt said he will have pictures of it in coming days on his newly minted Instagram account.
There are also two trust funds being set up for Bobbitt, including a retirement fund and one to give him an annual salary, according to the GoFundMe page.
GULFPORT, Fla. (AP) — A skydiving Santa looking to make a grand entrance while taking an Elf on the Shelf to a 9-year-old girl crashed into a tree and light pole before hitting a Florida beach and breaking his leg.
News outlets say George Krokus was dressed as Santa Claus during a skydive Saturday to deliver toys to the Tampa Bay Beach Bums Operation Santa Charity Volleyball Tournament.
Madison Spiers saw the crash and later found a note from the "elf" named Kristoff who visits her house during the holidays. It said, "As we were about to land this big tree jumped right out in front of us!"
She tells Bay News 9 that Kristoff is no stranger to adventure.
The elf sported a bandaged leg while staying with the recovering Krokus.
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Representatives for a Maine Toys R Us store say a husband and wife stopped in to pay off $10,000 in layaway orders for other families.
WGME-TV reports the couple is local and desired to remain anonymous when making the payment at the South Portland store. Store manager Jay Roes says the money is enough to pay off the balance on about 100 layaway accounts. The gift will help make Christmas more affordable for dozens of families in the area.
The total layaway balance at the store remains around $25,000.
MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — An obese squirrel has been caught on video stealing gourmet chocolate and lip balm that a New Jersey family leaves out yearly as a holiday treat for delivery people.
Michele Boudreaux says on her blog she provides candy, tissues, lip balm and other goodies on her doorstep. This year, her basket was raided within hours.
The thief was targeting the priciest stuff, including Ghirardelli chocolate squares.
The Maplewood family set up a surveillance camera and spotted the overweight varmint Tuesday. It cleared out all the chocolate, snack bars and throat lozenges.
She stumbled upon the thieving rodent in the act Wednesday, and recorded it taking more chocolate and a Carmex lip balm.
She says they now have the chocolate in a jar that requires opposable thumbs.
SEA GIRT, N.J. (AP) — It was a squirrel that nearly stole Christmas in a New Jersey town.
Sea Girt officials were puzzled when wires to the town's Christmas tree and display were found torn last week. Workers repaired the damage so the tree could be lit on Friday.
Police kept watch over the display and on Saturday posted a photo on Facebook of the culprit — a squirrel.
Police said the squirrel was "charged with criminal mischief and released on bail."
MIAMI (AP) — It's a good time to be a bad driver in Florida's most populous county.
The Miami Herald reports that Miami-Dade County police officers are rationing the paper tickets they issue as the department awaits a new electronic system next month. County officials didn't want to order new paper tickets and then have leftovers.
Department officials concede that means only the worst of the worst traffic scofflaws are getting tickets.
Maj. Hector Llevat told the paper, "officers are using their discretion."
Officers told the paper they are down to their last ticket book, which contain 25 citations.
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — Police say a Pennsylvania man hiding from police in the crawl space of his girlfriend's home fell through the ceiling directly in front of an officer.
Police were searching the Scranton home Sunday for 29-year-old Justin Thompson, who was wanted on charges of assault and harassment.
The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reports that officers found Thompson in the crawl space and tried to grab him. He was able to get away, but then plunged into the kitchen, where an officer was waiting.
Police say there were children nearby when Thompson fell, leading to a charge of endangering the welfare of children. He also picked up charges of resisting arrest and reckless endangerment.
His girlfriend was charged with hindering apprehension.
The Associated Press couldn't determine if Thompson has a lawyer who could comment on the accusations.
BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Police in Bangor, Maine, say a reported intruder turned out to be a roll of duct tape.
Officers responded to a call from a woman who heard noises from her basement and reported that her dog was barking aggressively at the noise.
Police said it turns out a "thump-thump-thump" sound the woman heard was a roll of duct tape that fell off a shelf and bounced down the stairs.
Sgt. Tim Cotton wrote on Facebook that the woman had already investigated before the first officer arrived. The officer felt that the woman could've held her own until police arrived because she was "from Maine, had a dog, and a roll of duct tape."
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A sandwich shop in West Virginia's capital plans to expand next week to add craft beer and ax throwing.
Chadrick Harper, owner of the Lucky Dill Deli, tells WSAZ-TV the addition will be called "Axes and Ales" and will allow customers to hurl real axes into a wooden target.
Starting Dec. 14, the Charleston business expects to have five ax-throwing courts open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
There are rules.
You have to be 21 to play and get safety training. It costs $40 to reserve one court, separated from others by Plexiglas dividers, for one hour. Up to four can play.
A projector displays the target, tells people when to throw and when to pull an ax off the target to ensure that no one is in the line of fire.
DEERFIELD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire town is happy to report that its beloved elf on a shelf has been returned, more than a day after he vanished.
The Deerfield Rescue Squad posted on Facebook on Wednesday morning that Zippy the elf is a little wet, but safe. It featured photos of him carried by a police officer and parked in a car.
The rescue says "Our Holiday Magic is back."
Deerfield Rescue Squad EMS captain Cindy McHugh says a town resident was getting ready for work when he saw that Zippy was on his doorstep. He called police.
McHugh said the town isn't interested in pursuing the matter further, and just wants Zippy back for the children.
The mannequin in a red onesie, cap, mittens and slippers makes appearances around town.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — A Buffalo Bills fan who ran naked across the field during a blowout loss last month and earned praise from other fans for rushing better than the team's players has pleaded guilty to exposure.
Tristan Lambright admitted the violation in Orchard Park Town Court on Thursday. He'll have to do 25 hours of community service and pay $400 in fines and fees.
The 29-year-old ran out onto New Era Field on Nov. 12 during the Bills' 47-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He was tackled by security officers.
After his arrest, fans rallied around him, offering praise for his physique and money for his defense. But he won't be at another game anytime soon. His sentence includes a one-year ban from the stadium.