This week in odd news: Canal jump, skinny dippers, brawls
BY RICHARD. A. SOMMA
Oct. 13, 2017
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa State Patrol says a man pulled over in Des Moines after a car pursuit told state troopers that he wanted to be chased because it was on his bucket list.
Des Moines television station KCCI reports that the man refused to halt a little before 7:30 a.m. Thursday when a trooper tried to stop him over a violation on Interstate 80. The 10- to 15-minute chase ended soon after he left the interstate. He was taken into custody.
That's when the 46-year-old Des Moines resident shared his bucket list story with troopers. Court records don't yet show that he's been charged.
State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright told The Associated Press that he'd never heard such an excuse in his 28 years of policing.
SEBRING, Ohio (AP) — Police in Ohio say they've arrested a man after receiving random 911 calls for months from his apparently malfunctioning cellphone.
The Review in Alliance reports Sebring police arrested 33-year-old Nathan Hawkins Oct. 5 on a felony charge of disrupting public service. Hawkins' attorney didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.
Dispatchers in the northeast Ohio village say they received at least 20 emergency calls from Hawkins' cellphone from January through August.
Police say they told Hawkins that he could have found ways to prevent the calls from continuing. Police say Hawkins told them that he sometimes sleeps with the phone in his pocket and it just calls 911.
Police indicate Hawkins was warned previously that he would be arrested if they continued receiving 911 calls for no reason.
SALISBURY, Mass. (AP) — A pair of skinny-dippers gave a wedding reception at a scenic Massachusetts restaurant more of a view than expected.
Zachary Tomko tells WHDH-TV he didn't realize there was a restaurant nearby when he and Holly O'Neil jumped naked into the water at Salisbury Beach on Saturday.
Salisbury Police Chief Thomas Fowler tells The Boston Globe his department received several calls about the nude swimmers from both beachgoers and members of the wedding party.
Fowler says police charged 29-year-old Tomko and 20-year-old O'Neil, of Londonderry, New Hampshire, with disorderly conduct.
Bride Leah Allen says the swimmers made for a "really interesting wedding day," and she applauded them for braving the cold water.
LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a man tried to jump his car over a canal in a Florida neighborhood, but didn't make it.
WFTX reports that the car had be towed from the Lehigh Acres canal on Tuesday after it failed to clear the 20 feet (6 meters) between both sides.
Before attempting the jump, witnesses were quoted as telling the television station, the man drove to the edge of the canal and got out of the car to observe the distance.
Lee County deputies say the man wasn't injured, but the Toyota Corolla was totaled.
Investigators say they weren't sure why the man attempted the jump, noting he could have driven a few blocks to get to the other side.
No charges were reported, and the man wasn't identified.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — Some people are a few dollars richer thanks to a Massachusetts carpenter who intentionally tossed cash from his paycheck into the wind.
A crowd gathered at a Northampton intersection on Thursday afternoon to scrape up the dollar bills thrown into the air by 28-year-old Paul Vidich, who had his $389 paycheck taken out in hundreds of $1 and $2 bills.
Vidich describes himself as "ridiculously frugal," but he says it felt good to give the money away.
He says he didn't have a message behind the unexpected donation, except that he wanted to demonstrate what he called "the absurdity of money" and how money can have a negative impact on society.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The Helsinki airport says Flight 666 has arrived safety in HEL — the airport code for the Finnish capital — for the last time.
The Finnair flight took off from Copenhagen, Denmark, in the 13th hour of Friday the 13th, headed for Helsinki Vantaa airport.
Finavia, which operates Finland's 21 airports, says the flight landed eight minutes ahead of schedule at 3:47 p.m. local.
The flight started 11 years ago and has fallen on Friday the 13th 21 times with no reported ill effects.
Still, Finnair has decided to retire the flight number. As the carrier is switching around some flight numbers later this month, Flight AY666 will become AY954.
BOSTON (AP) — A cigar half-smoked by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during a 1947 trip to Paris has sold for just over $12,000 during an online auction.
Boston-based RR Auction says the 4-inch (10-centimeter) cigar was bought Wednesday evening by a collector from Palm Beach, Florida. The buyer's name wasn't released.
The auction company says Churchill smoked the cigar on May 11, 1947, at Le Bourget Airport. Included in the auction was a photo signed by the prime minister that shows him with the cigar in his hand at the airport.
RR Auction says a British airman, Cpl. William Alan Turner, kept the cigar after his crew flew Churchill and his wife to and from Paris.
The label on the La Corona cigar from Havana, Cuba, includes Churchill's name.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island grower is first in the world to achieve a trifecta in the hobby of growing gargantuan foods: world records for heaviest pumpkin, longest long gourd and now, heaviest squash.
After previously breaking two records, Joe Jutras got his third during the weekend when smashed the giant squash record with one that weighed more than a ton. His green squash tipped the scales at 2,118 pounds (960 kilograms) during a weigh-in at Frerichs Farm in Warren.
His other titles came in 2006, when broke the record for longest gourd, with a 126.5-inch (3.21-meter) gourd, and in 2007, when he broke the record for largest pumpkin, with a fruit that weighed in at 1,689 pounds (766 kilograms). Both previous records have since been surpassed, but Jutras is the only grower so far to break world records in the three most competitive categories.
"It feels great," Jutras said Monday. "It's really been a goal of mine to try to achieve this."
Jutras has been working on the trifecta for a decade, since his pumpkin win. He was close to the goal a few years ago, but then a squash on track to break the record split. Now 62, Jutras recently retired from his work as a high-end cabinet maker to devote more time to his hobby.
Jutras noted that others had won multiple world records for fruits and vegetables before, but in categories such as carrots that are not as competitive.
He credits a new soil cultivation technique and a seed from last year's world record breaker for this year's win.
Ron Wallace, a multi-time pumpkin record breaker, called Jutras' feat "unbelievable." He said Jutras' accomplishment showed the best of the hobby. "It's about people competing and pushing the boundaries," he said.
Jutras said his fruit is headed to New York City, where it will be on display this month at the New York Botanical Garden.
In February, he'll receive a coveted "green jacket" honor for his squash record during at the annual convention in Oregon of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, considered the NFL of giant fruit and vegetable growing.
Asked what he plans to do next after achieving the trifecta, he said he's been thinking about the bushel gourd.
"I think the record now is about 279 pounds," Jutras said. "That might be something I might want to get into a bit."
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — The winner of the 44th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off had the heaviest pumpkin recorded in the history of the San Francisco Bay Area competition.
The Orange County Register reports (http://bit.ly/2yd5T5Q ) that a forklift hoisted the giant pumpkin onto a scale and a crowd watched as it was weighed Monday in downtown Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco. It registered 2,363 pounds (1,070 kilograms) to make it the seventh win for grower Joel Holland.
The giant pumpkin earned the Sumner, Washington, man prize money of $7 per pound.
Cindy Tobeck won the competition last year with a pumpkin weighing 1,910 pounds. Tobeck rode on top of her entry this year as it was brought to the scale, but its 2,002 pounds fell short of Holland's entry.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh man has been arrested after police say he called in a false bomb threat to try and get out of paying his restaurant bill.
WPXI-TV reports (http://bit.ly/2ycHWuU ) 40-year-old Barry Clapperton faces charges that include threats to use weapons of mass destruction, public drunkenness and false identification to police.
A witness says Clapperton tried to leave multiple times without paying for his meal at Primanti Brothers. Police were called to the scene, and another person paid for Clapperton's bill.
Police say they were about to let the man leave when bomb threat was called in to a nearby restaurant. Authorities say they used a stun gun to subdue Clapperton after he ran from the restaurant.
Police say Clapperton acknowledged he called in the false threat to create a distraction.
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities say a New York high school had to be placed on lockdown after a fight broke out among students and another brawl erupted when their parents arrived.
Police tell the Poughkeepsie Journal that at least 10 officers were sent to Poughkeepsie High School just before noon Tuesday after a fight broke out among students.
Police say the students' parents later arrived and got into a fight as well.
School district officials say an external threat required administrators to put the high school under a shelter-in-place warning until the threat was contained.
Police Sgt. George Camacho says he doesn't have details of the two fights or information on whether charges were filed.
CLEVELAND (AP) — A woman accused of pulling a gun on a Cleveland barber because he was taking too long to cut her 7-year-old son's hair has been sentenced to six months behind bars.
Thirty-one-year-old Andrea Smith was sentenced Tuesday. She previously pleaded guilty to menacing, child endangering and carrying a concealed weapon.
Smith apologized at sentencing and acknowledged she briefly pulled a handgun from her purse at a barber school in April and that she had no license to carry the weapon. But she denied waving it or threatening the barber as police alleged.
No one was hurt. Police say Smith put away the gun after another employee helped to calm her. The barber finished the haircut, and then Smith left with her children.
NEW YORK (AP) — A New Jersey man says a television news report led him to check lottery tickets he had stuffed in an old shirt, and one was a $24 million winner.
Jimmie Smith, of East Orange, claimed a $24.1 million New York lottery jackpot on May 23, two days before the prize would have expired.
The New York Lottery released his name Wednesday after a review was completed.
The retired security guard told lottery officials he's been buying lottery tickets in New York and New Jersey since the 1960s but doesn't rush to see whether he's won. He said he'd check them when he had the time.
Smith says he bought the ticket from a grocery and tobacco shop in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood.
He chose to receive the payout over 26 years.
ROME (AP) — An Italian librarian who says her English setter is her family has won the right from her employer to use family sick leave to care for her ailing pet instead of having to use vacation days.
Italian animal advocacy group LAV says it helped persuade public La Sapienza University to let her use two days' family sick leave to care for 12-year-old Cucciola. LAV president Gianluca Felicetti says in a statement anyone who obtains a veterinarian's certificate should enjoy the same benefit, citing Cucciola's case as precedent.
The woman said Cucciola is recovering well from surgery for a breast tumor and a larynx problem. The woman, who is single and has no family help for Cucciola, declined to be identified. She adopted Cucciola, found abandoned in a Rome park.
EDGECOMB, Maine (AP) — A Maine teacher who pleaded guilty to shoplifting a $14.99 blouse after winning the $1 million Global Teacher Prize is accused of violating her conditions of release by stealing a $28 dog leash.
Wiscasset police tell the Bangor Daily News that Nancie Atwell received a summons for theft Friday.
Atwell had pleaded guilty to stealing a blouse in 2016 in a plea agreement that required her to stay out of trouble for two years.
The 66-year-old Atwell was also charged with theft in a 2014 case that came to light after the 2016 charge. The outcome of that case wasn't immediately clear.
Atwell founded the Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb. She won the Varkey Foundation's teaching award in 2015.
She couldn't immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
WESTFIELD, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey house whose current owners were scared off the property by a creepy letter writer known as "The Watcher" is up for sale again.
Derek and Maria Broaddus bought the Westfield home in 2014, but they didn't move in after receiving the first of four letters from the anonymous stalker. The family tells NJ.com (http://bit.ly/2kG79Jq ) that the letter writer requested information about their children.
The house, which went up for sale on Monday, was previously listed in March 2016.
The Broadduses say they can't live in the house because of the letters, which they say came from someone with a "mentally disturbed fixation" on the home. They say they received the last letter earlier this year.
Westfield police have previously said there's no suspect in the case.
MANHATTAN, Mont. (AP) — There's one person running for mayor of Manhattan, Montana, and he only needs to vote for himself to win.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Glen Clements was the only person to apply to be a write-in candidate for the position on the November ballot. Under Montana law, any other write-in votes won't be counted because he's the only registered write-in candidate. If he had applied to be a formal candidate, all write-in votes would be counted.
The Navy veteran and geological engineer has lived in the town of about 1,500 people for six years. Clements said his neighbors — the city's secretary and a police officer — told him no one was running and encouraged him to.
He says he's excited to fill the position that no one else wanted.
LONDONDERRY, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont man has been cited for unlawful mischief after he painted over a public mural designed by students in the town of Londonderry.
The Bennington Banner reports that 74-year-old Ed Brown, a restaurateur, says he acted on principle when he painted over the mural.
The mural was of a garden with various flowers designed by first and second grade students in the town. The creation of the mural was shepherded by artist Garrison Buxton, who painted it with volunteers in 2014, based on the students' designs.
Brown says he disliked the mural and it detracted from Londonderry's aesthetic. He says he painted over it after it became faded over the years.
He will be arraigned Nov. 7.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A sea turtle that swallowed more than 4 feet (1 meter) of fishing line has been released in the Atlantic Ocean off South Carolina's coast after undergoing surgery.
The South Carolina Aquarium said in a news release Monday that Peach was returned to the ocean at Folly Beach on Monday after recovering from the surgery to remove the fishing line.
Peach is a 55-pound female Kemp's ridley turtle and had the surgery after being found last summer in Charleston Harbor.
The Department of Natural Resources found Peach with fishing line around her head, neck and left front flipper, in addition to running down her mouth into her intestines.
She's been tagged with a satellite transmitter that will allow scientists to study how Kemp's ridley turtles move during the winter months.
NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut homeowner says a lion statue weighing at least 200 pounds was stolen from outside his home, leaving its equally hefty mate to stand guard alone.
Bob Paolino tells The Day that he was shocked to find the statue missing while watering the flowers outside his New London home Wednesday morning.
Paolino says he had considered securing the lions to their bases years ago, but decided that no one would be able to get away with them. He says he needed two friends and the assistance of rails to slide the statues into place when he bought them.
He says he hopes police involvement will prevent the thieves from returning for the remaining statue.
MOSCOW (AP) — Another summit, another dog.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday added a puppy to the litter of canine companions he's received as gifts. This one is a Central Asian Shepherd bestowed by the president of the ex-Soviet nation of Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov presented Putin with the puppy as a birthday gift. Putin, an avid dog lover, turned 65 over the weekend.
Putin cuddled Verny, which is Russian for "loyal," and kissed the pup on the head during a meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Putin previously received a Bulgarian shepherd named Buffy from Bulgaria's premier in 2010 and an Akita named Yume from a Japanese official in 2012.
Konnie, a black Labrador of Putin's who was famous for terrifying German Chancellor Angela Merkel, died a few years ago. Putin received Konnie as a gift from a Russian official in 1999.
The Russian leader also has been given horses and even a tiger.