This week in odd news: Airborne car, the umbrella lockdown
SPRING HILL, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Florida man was charged with driving under the influence after mistaking a bank drive-thru for a Taco Bell.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that 38-year-old Douglas Jon Francisco was arrested Wednesday evening outside the Bank of America branch in Spring Hill.
The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office says employees spotted Francisco passed out in the bank’s drive-up lane. After the workers banged on his car for some time, deputies say Francisco finally woke up and tried to order a burrito. When the branch manager told him it wasn’t a Taco Bell, he reportedly drove to the front parking lot.
Deputies say they found Francisco in the driver’s seat with his car running. He was arrested after failing a field sobriety test.
Francisco was freed Thursday on $500 bail. Jail records didn’t list an attorney.
SYDNEY (AP) — A wayward wallaby disrupted downtown traffic by bounding across the Sydney Harbor Bridge on Tuesday with police in pursuit.
The adult male was captured without any apparent serious injury and is expected to be released back into the wild within days.
Swamp wallabies, which are smaller marsupials than their kangaroo cousins, are common across eastern Australia, but are rarely seen in cities.
The startled wallaby hopped across the bridge’s eight lanes of traffic an hour before sunrise then turned onto an expressway on the harbor’s southern shore toward the Sydney Opera House. A pursuing police car with flashing lights videoed the animal’s steady bounding before police officers captured him near the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and wrangled him into a horse float, police said.
Veterinarian Larry Vogelnest said the wallaby was “quite distressed” but he gave it a tranquilizer before taking it to the wildlife hospital at nearby Taronga Zoo.
“It had some minor grazes on its face and its hind legs,” Vogelnest told reporters. “There don’t seem to be any major injuries.”
Vogel said he did not know where the wallaby had come from or how it found its way to the bridge.
“It’s unusual obviously to have a wallaby running around on the Harbor Bridge, but there are more and more of these wallabies turning up in bush land close to the city,” Vogelnest said.
Police Inspector Kylie Smith said several police cars plus horse-handlers from the police mounted unit had responded to the wallaby alert.
“When police arrived, the wallaby refused to obey police directions and initially evaded police,” Smith joked.
Six officers eventually nabbed the macropod, including the horse-handlers who attempted to calm it down, she said.
“It was a very unusual job for a city police officer to be chasing a wallaby down the Harbor Bridge,” she said, adding that the officers involved would likely never be assigned a similar job.
The wallaby was lucky it did not attempt the journey an hour later at 6 a.m. local time when traffic would have been far heavier, Smith said.
A motorist who identified himself as Ray told Sydney Radio 2GB of his surprise at seeing police cars with flashing lights pursuing a wallaby.
“I’m from the bush, I’m used to seeing them running all over the place, but I’ve never seen one so close in the city before,” Ray said.
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say two people escaped serious injuries when the car they were in went airborne and slammed into the second floor of a Southern California dental office.
Orange County fire officials say the Nissan Altima hit a center divider early Sunday, soared into the air and plowed into the top floor of the two-story structure in Santa Ana.
The sedan’s front half was wedged inside the building while the back half hung out about 10 feet above a sidewalk.
Officials say a small fire injured one person who managed to get out of the car unassisted. Authorities had to rescue the second person.
Crews will use a crane to remove the car from the building.
Investigators are trying to determine if drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash.
KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — An umbrella sparked a scare at a Seattle-area hospital after it was mistaken for a rifle.
KOMO reports an employee of Evergreen Medical Center in Kirkland, Washington, noticed a visitor Wednesday morning carrying a backpack that had a long-handled item sticking from the top of it.
Evergreen Health spokeswoman Kay Taylor said surveillance video was reviewed but it wasn’t clear what the object was. As a precaution the facility was locked down and the hospital sent out the surveillance photo.
The man in the photo recognized himself and contacted hospital security to let them know it was an umbrella with a handle that’s shaped like a sword.
Police confirmed it was not a weapon and the lockdown was lifted.
DETROIT (AP) — Experts say a bright light and what sounded like thunder in the sky above Michigan was a meteor.
The American Meteor Society says it received hundreds of reports of a fireball Tuesday night over the state, including many in the Detroit area. Reports also came in from several other states and Ontario, Canada.
Some Michigan residents reported their homes shaking.
The society says the reports suggest a space rock penetrated deep into the Earth’s atmosphere before it broke apart. The U.S. Geological Service says it registered as a 2.0 magnitude earthquake in Michigan.
Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office tells The Detroit News it was “definitely a meteoroid” and a rare sight for Michigan.
Other states where people reported seeing a fireball included Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.
WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) — Some Maine drivers say their vehicles were damaged when they purchased fuel at a gas station where the diesel and gasoline were in the wrong pumps.
The Kennebec Journal reports the drivers filled their tanks at a Mobil station in Waterville last week. The owner of the gas station says he has received complaints from six customers who told him the diesel and gasoline had been mixed up.
Kevin Strickland says he has paid over $700 to fix vehicle parts that were damaged as a result of the mishap. Other customers had smaller repair problems.
The station owner says Mobil officials are investigating the error to determine what happened. The owner says he is collecting information so Mobil can compensate customers after the problem is figured out.
BELFAST, Maine (AP) — Police in Maine have accused a man of punching himself in the face three times to avoid a sobriety test.
Police in the town of Belfast say they found 27-year-old Brian Fogg in his car, stuck in a ditch last week.
WGME-TV reports police said when they tried to test for his blood-alcohol level, Fogg punched himself in the face, causing himself to bleed. Police tended to his injuries instead of giving him the test, but later charged him with operating under the influence, falsifying physical evidence and criminal mischief.
Fogg’s been released on bail. He has an unpublished number and it wasn’t immediately known if he had a lawyer.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian police had an unexpected encounter while searching a house in St. Petersburg — a crocodile in the basement.
The Fontanka.ru news portal said the incident happened Thursday while detectives were looking for undeclared weapons in the house of a man involved in staging reconstructions of historic military battles with period uniforms and antique weaponry.
When they went down they saw a crocodile resting in a small pool of water dug in concrete basement. The owner of the house explained that he got the crocodile years ago.
City prosecutors said they were checking whether the man was complying with local laws.
BERLIN (AP) — Police in the eastern German city of Dresden say two men suffered minor injuries after backing in to one another in two consecutive accidents.
Police said Tuesday that a 49-year-old man pulled into a disabled parking place on Monday afternoon, then reversed out after noticing his mistake.
As he backed out, he accidentally hit a 72-year-old man walking behind him, injuring him slightly.
After the two men exchanged information for a report, the older man got in his car and backed out of his own parking spot, hitting the younger man in the process and slightly injuring him.
Police say it was at that point they were called to the scene of the two accidents in the Saxony capital.
BRIDGTON, Maine (AP) — A Maine animal rescue group says it has raised enough money to save a 15-year-old pony that lost part of its penis due to cancer and frostbite.
Bridgton-based Animal Rescue Unit took over care of the pony that was suffering from cancer and infection. Brogan Horton said temperatures plummeting to 25 below exacerbated the problem, causing part of the animal’s flesh to break off during an examination.
The animal, named Richard, will be spared from being euthanized thanks to a fundraising campaign that surpassed its goal of raising $4,000 for care, including reconstruction.
Horton said the pony will be transferred to an animal hospital on Friday and the surgery will take place Monday. She said the goal is for the pony to live the remainder of its life pain-free.
WEBSTER, Mass. (AP) — Massachusetts police say they have arrested a man who stole seven manhole covers and put traffic cones in their place.
The Telegram & Gazette reports the 46-year-old Webster man was arrested Friday and charged with larceny.
Police say they first received a call around 2:45 p.m. last Wednesday from a witness who saw the suspect taking a manhole cover in Webster. Authorities received several other calls about missing manhole covers, and they say they stopped a vehicle matching the witness’ description later that day.
Police say the suspect acknowledged taking the manhole covers and pointed officers to where he had sold them. Authorities recovered the covers Wednesday from a Millbury salvage yard.
Webster sewer superintendent William Burke says they replaced to stolen covers with spares.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — A waitress who has been a feature of a Pennsylvania restaurant for more than six decades has worked her final shift at the Penn State hangout.
Eighty-one-year-old Emma Gunsallus retired Tuesday from The Corner Room, where she worked as a waitress for 61 years. The Centre Daily Times reports Gunsallus worked her first shift at the restaurant in the 1950s and has not missed a shift since.
She says what she’ll miss the most is the people who stop by.
Restaurant co-owner John Cocolin says Gunsallus’ greatest contribution has been her big smile and infectious personality.
Since word spread at the restaurant that Gunsallus was retiring, she’s received gifts from customers. General Manager John Briggs says there had been a steady stream of people coming in to wish her well.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. (AP) — Police in the Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital say two would-be carjackers fled from their intended victims when a splash of hot cocoa and a dash of resourcefulness entered the mix.
Police in Prince William County, Virginia, said in a statement that a 50-year-old woman exited a 7-Eleven convenience store on Saturday night with some purchased items when two men, one with a handgun, approached and demanded her vehicle.
Police say the woman struck one man with her bag before her 22-year-old daughter threw her hot chocolate toward both men, who then fled on foot.
No one was hurt and no property was taken.
GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) — A Maryland woman is accused of mailing a shipment of drugs to her son, an inmate at a Delaware prison.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jayme Gravell said in a statement Tuesday that investigators learned in late December that a shipment of contraband was expected to arrive at the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown.
According to the statement, investigators determined 43-year-old Angel Osborne of Hurlock, Maryland, would be sending the contraband through the mail. Gravell says investigators intercepted the narcotics.
Osborne was arrested, extradited and charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, promoting prison contraband and second-degree conspiracy. She was arraigned and held in lieu of bail.
Her son, Patrick Osborne, was charged with criminal solicitation and other counts. He has also been arraigned.
It wasn’t immediately clear if either has an attorney.
MOSCOW (AP) — An underwear dance video filmed in a college dormitory nearly got some Russian cadet pilots expelled and sparked a discussion among Russia’s political elite.
The mock striptease recorded by cadets at the Ulyanovsk Civil Aviation Institute went viral earlier this week. Some Russian politicians called on the public training school located in Lenin’s birthplace to expel the students. The Federal Agency for Air Transportation decried the video as an “immoral incident” and an “insult to civil aviation professionals.”
The students’ all-male rendition of the official video for Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” showed a dozen freshmen wearing boxer shorts, boots, chest straps and cadet caps, thrusting their hips to the beat as they walked around the dorm, mopped the floor and ironed their shirts.
The college video looks light-hearted, but the outcry over it highlights Russian unease with gay visibility.
Following legislation in several regions, Russia adopted a federal law in 2013 prohibiting the dissemination to minors of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” The law has been condemned as an outright ban on public discussions of LGBT issues, but authorities defend it as being in the interest of children.
Students at colleges elsewhere in Russia recorded their own videos as tributes to the one made by the Ulyanovsk cadets. Two posted Thursday on YouTube showed students at an agriculture college and at school affiliated with the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry also dancing to “Satisfaction.”
Earlier this week, Ulyanovsk Governor Sergei Morozov ordered an investigation of whether the future pilots who reportedly filmed the video in the dorm violated the institute’s charter. But Morozov disagreed that the students deserved to be expelled.
“You cannot educate them further or make them more patriotic” by kicking them out of college, he said.
The region’s transportation prosecutors concluded Thursday that the cadets and their video that “displayed signs of erotica” didn’t violate any laws or school rules. However, they issued a warning to the college’s rector for “failing to ensure the educational process.”
The prosecutors’ statement comes after two days of intense public discussion.
A legendary Russian test pilot, Magomed Tolboyev, told the Govorit Moskva radio station on Tuesday that “when children dance like this, it’s a tragedy.” He called on the rector of the college and the chief of the Russian Aviation Agency to resign.
A top news show on a state-owned channel devoted 20 minutes Wednesday to a segment with lawmakers and pilots discussing the young men’s stunt.
Ivan Mokhanchuk, a member of the Kremlin-sponsored People’s Front movement, argued that the video was damaging to Russia’s image abroad because graduates of civil aviation colleges can be conscripted as army pilots in wartime.
“Is this what they’re going to show to our enemies?” Mokhanchuk fumed.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the eccentric leader of the LDPR party, rushed to the freshmen’s defense Thursday, saying he thinks they were undressed because the dorm was too hot.
“The central heating was working well,” he said.
LONDON (AP) — London Zoo has honored Prince Harry’s fiancee by naming its newborn okapi after her.
The zoo said Wednesday the animal born in early December was named Meghan to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.
The okapi have striped hindquarters like zebras but are related to giraffes. Native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, they sometimes are called a forest giraffe or zebra giraffe.
Zoo officials say the young mammal is doing well and that Meghan’s mother, Oni, watches over her while she sleeps.
Zookeeper Gemma Metcalf said the birth is “a great opportunity to draw attention to the okapi, which is an extremely endangered species.”
Harry and Markle’s wedding is planned for May 19.