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Lee County Department of Transportation
Lee County Department of Transportation

The Weird Week in Review

Lee County Department of Transportation
Lee County Department of Transportation

11-FOOT GATOR PULLED FROM STORM DRAIN

Residents in Fort Myers, Florida, called the Lee County Sheriff’s Department to report a foul odor in their neighborhood. Department of Transportation officials determined the odor was consistent with that of a decaying alligator. Outside of Florida, it would be unusual for anyone to recognize such a smell consistently. Crews went to work and pulled the obstruction of out the storm drain. As expected, it was an alligator -that measured measured 11 feet long! A DOT spokesperson said they normally pull an alligator out of drains once or twice a year, but this one is unusually large. The pipes leading to the drain are only 14 to 24 inches wide. The DOT crew hauled the gator away to be buried.

FIRE PREVENTION SERVICE VAN CATCHES FIRE

The Vancouver Fire Department responded to a call of a vehicle on fire Monday afternoon. The fire was quickly extinguished, but the van is expected to be totaled. The van belonged to a fire prevention service.

The van belonged to Vancouver Fire, which describes itself as “B.C.’s largest, longest-established fire protection, fire safety and commercial security and monitoring company.”

Investigators are looking into what caused the fire, but it is not considered suspicious at this time.

Vancouver Fire Department Assistant Chief Ron Coulson said there was likely some fire prevention equipment in the van at the time of the blaze.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

DOUBLE HIGHWAY FOOD SPILL: CHICKEN AND CORN

It sounds like the setup for a joke, but there was no barbecue reported after a wreck on I-95 near Kenly, North Carolina on Thursday morning. A tractor-trailer carrying chicken parts was traveling in the northbound lane when the trailer came loose from the cab. The loose trailer struck another 18-wheeler that was carrying a load of corn. Both trailers spilled their contents on the highway. The driver of the chicken truck was to be charged with failing to secure his cargo. No injuries were reported. The road was shut down for about five hours for cleanup.

WOMAN’S PENSION CANCELLED BECAUSE SHE’S TOO OLD

Jesuína Santos Cardoso of Union City, Brazil, has been receiving old age benefits for a long time. But recently the National Social Security Institute (INSS) suspended her payments because they thought it was a case of fraud. Surely she couldn’t be 120 years old! There have been cases where a family continues to receive benefits after an elderly relative passed away. So Dona Jesuína had to travel to Curitiba, 300 kilometers away, to prove that she was indeed, still alive. Her 53-year-old granddaughter accompanied her. A machine translation of the article said,

After the INSS employees saw owner Jesuína in the car, not only reactivated its benefit as Dalíria encouraged to go in search of the title for the elderly. A councilman, friend of the family, is in dealing with the documentation of the resident by the Guinness Book, the record books. The date of birth brought the old registration is January 30, 1896.

Dona Jesuína had 15 children, three of whom are still alive. She also has 36 grandchildren, 63 great-grandchildren and 44 great-great-grandchildren. She never saw a doctor in her life before the age of 100. Whether or not the family will be able to document Jesuína’s age well enough for the Guinness Book, she will continue to receive her pension as long as she’s alive. Here’s the story in its original Portuguese.

THERE’S A FOX IN THE DISHWASHER

Simon Hayes of London was loading the dishwasher and left the room without  closing the appliance door. When he returned, there was a juvenile fox inside, among the dirty dishes on the lower rack! This being the 21st century, Hayes’ first move was to make sure to get the incident on video. He moved the dish rack out of his way and tried to coax it out, but the kit retreated further into the washer. Hayes is a veterinarian and not afraid of wildlife, so he used a broom to scare the fox out. The back door had been open and the kit may have been attracted to the aroma of food on the dishes. Hayes said he could hear the kit’s mother calling from the yard.

FIGHT OVER FART IN FLORIDA

A fight broke out between two couples at Sloppy Joe’s bar in Key West, Florida, on Monday. Richard McBride and his girlfriend Sandra Stoner of Naples said the fight started when someone broke wind.

The couple said they were drinking with friends at the bar when Stoner traded words with an unidentified woman before getting out of her seat and confronting her in “an aggressive manner,” police said.

An unidentified man tried to pull the woman away as others began to step into the dispute, including McBride, who pushed the man, police said. The man retaliated by striking McBride in the face and McBride responded by tackling, Stoner told police.

The unidentified couple ran from the business, and police were unable to find them. Several people were taken to a hospital, and one man was treated for a dislocated shoulder. McBride and Stoner declined to press charges. It was never made clear who was responsible for the fart.

5 Strange News Stories From This Week

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. MAN PAYS FINE WITH FIVE WHEELBARROWS OF PENNIES

On January 11, Nick Stafford of Cedar Bluff, Virginia, carted 1600 pounds of pennies into the Lebanon Department of Motor Vehicles to pay taxes on two of his vehicles. It was the end of a saga that began in September, when Stafford tried to find out which of his homes (which are located in two counties) he should use to register his son's new car. When he tried to call his local DMV, he was routed to a larger call center—and so, to get the local number he wanted, he submitted a successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Then he went one step further, filing three lawsuits to get the direct numbers for nine other local DMVs. “If they were going to inconvenience me then I was going to inconvenience them,” Stafford told The Herald Courier.

A judge ultimately dismissed the lawsuits when the state's Attorney General physically handed Stafford the phone numbers in the courtroom. But Stafford still had to pay sales tax on his vehicles, and he got in one last dig at the DMV while doing so: First, he bought five new wheelbarrows. Then, he bought a bunch of rolls of pennies. He hired 11 people to help him unroll the pennies—300,000 in total—and drove them to the DMV, where he put them in the wheelbarrows and, with the help of people he had hired, rolled them in. (“I’m not used to lifting,” Stafford said. “These are heavy.”) The lawsuits, wheelbarrow, and hired help cost Stafford more than $1000 above the amount of the vehicle tax.

2. MOTORIST JAILED OVER KITTY LITTER

When he was pulled over in early December 2016, Ross Lebeau thought it was a routine traffic stop—but Houston sheriff's deputies arrested him on drug charges. In his car, the officers had found a substance in a sock, which, when field tested, was positive for meth. A press release stated that Lebeau had been found with a half pound of meth in his vehicle; the release contained both Lebeau's mugshot and a picture of the substance seized.

Lebeau spent three days in jail, but he was released when lab tests revealed that the substance was not meth after all—it was kitty litter! As WMC Action News 5 reported on January 7:

Lebeau said the substance was cat litter inside a sock.

His father left one in his car and gave the other to his sister for her car. It's supposed to keep the windows from fogging up.

The problem was that two field tests done by deputies came back positive for meth.

The county's forensic lab tested the substance as well, and no drugs were found. The case was then dismissed, but the damage was already done to Lebeau's reputation. "People have been calling me a kingpin or drug lord," Lebeau said, adding that he's lost out on work because of the accusation. “I was wrongly accused, and I'm going to do everything in my power to clear my name."

3. SWISS TOWN DENIES PASSPORT TO "ANNOYING" DUTCH VEGAN

Nancy Holten was born in the Netherlands, but she's lived in Switzerland since she was a child. The outspoken vegan and animal rights activist has campaigned against the cowbells that local livestock wear, saying the tradition is animal abuse, and has complained about loud church bells, hunting, and pig races. Holten, who is seeking Swiss citizenship, as been denied twice. Local residents can approve or deny villagers' requests, and they have deemed Holten too annoying. As Yahoo News UK reported on January 11:

"Tanja Suter, the president of the local Swiss People’s Party, claimed Ms Holten has a 'big mouth' and that residents did not want to grant her citizenship 'if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions.'"

Holten's citizenship case has been transferred to the Cantonal (regional) government body, which can overturn the local decision.

4. MAN FOUND STUCK IN KITCHEN VENT

Gjyste (Julie) Margilaj heard a crashing sound in her first-floor Manhattan apartment kitchen just after midnight on January 10. “I freaked ... out for a couple of minutes, and then I went over to the kitchen and I heard someone panting and breathing like they were in obvious pain. They were freaking out," she told the New York Daily News. “I opened the kitchen vent so he could breathe.” The man, a new resident of the seven-story building, had been on the roof hanging with some friends when, according to the FDNY, he removed the cover of an exhaust fan and slid down into the ductwork. "The shaft was so small that his body took up the entire vent," FDNY Chief Patrick Tansey told Pix 11 News. "So, using power tools was out of the question. We had to expose him by hand." The man—who was wearing just his underwear—only had minor injuries after the ordeal. "He had told the occupant who called us something about a pool in the basement," Tansey said, "but I don't know."

5. GOLFER RUN OVER BY TOILET

This week, Brian Berg filed a lawsuit over an incident that occurred last summer at Fox Run Golf Links in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The golfer was enjoying a day on the green when he was run over by a portable toilet. An employee of the course was using a forklift to move the toilet but couldn't see where he was going because the toilet obscured his vision. According to CBS Chicago,

"After he was knocked to the ground by the porta-potty’s “initial blow,” it did not stop, hitting him in the face and knocking him unconscious, the suit says. It injured his shoulder, cut his chin, cracked a rib, bruised a bicep and caused 'a large, deep bruise to his leg.'"

Berg is asking $50,000 in damages from the Elk Grove Park District, which runs the golf course, and the forklift driver.

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5 Strange News Stories From This Week
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Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. CALF GETS LASSOED FROM THE HOOD OF A POLICE CAR

When authorities got a call about a calf that was loose on Tennessee's Highway 79N, David Bevill of Paris, Tennessee, volunteered to help local police capture it. Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew drove down the highway with Bevill on the hood, ready to rope in the calf. According to a Facebook post,

Belew said the calf became loose when a man was driving through town and his cattle trailer door broke. “There were actually two that got loose, but Dr. Lyons at Mineral Wells Animal Clinic and his crew were able to get the other one,” Belew said.

“So everybody is happy—we roped one calf, Dr. Lyons got the other one and the guy who was hauling them through town is happy, too,” Belew said.

It's always handy to know a cowboy when you've got a job to do.

2. CAT STUCK IN SUPPORTS OF DOUBLE-DECKER HIGHWAY FOR NINE DAYS

Erin McCutcheon's cat Juno escaped a zippered cat carrier and jumped out of a moving car on the upper deck of I-93 in Boston on Christmas Day. McCutcheon couldn't find her cat, and so distributed posters and put out a call for help on Facebook. On Tuesday, a Local 103 crew of electricians doing maintenance work spotted Juno high above the lower deck, perched on the support girders under the upper deck. Juno had been stuck 80 feet above the highway for nine days! The crew couldn't catch the frightened feline, but eventually lured her out with cans of cat food. Juno, hungry and thirsty, went home with electrician Jay Frazier, and was later reunited with the McCutcheons.

3. MAN CARRIES SCISSORS IN BODY FOR 18 YEARS

Ma Van Nhat underwent surgery at Bac Kan Hospital in Vietnam in 1998 after suffering injuries in a traffic accident. Recently, he complained of pain in his abdomen, which doctors dismissed as a stomachache. But on December 27, during a routine checkup, a doctor determined there was a foreign object there. Last Saturday, surgeons removed a pair of surgical scissors, which had apparently been inside Nhat for 18 years. The scissors had broken and adhered to Nhat's abdominal organs. According to The Huffington Post,

The hospital’s director, Trinh Thi Luong, is now taking great pains to find out who may have left the scissors inside Nhat.

“Even if they are already retired, we will still inform them,” Luong said, according to Reuters. “This is a lesson to all doctors.”

4. MAN OPENS DOOR TO BRICK WALL

An unnamed man in Mainhausen, Germany, woke up Monday morning and got ready for work as usual—but when he opened his front door, he couldn't leave: Someone had built a brick wall over the door opening. The perpetrators had built the wall quickly and quietly during the night. He had to tear out the bricks to leave his house. Police don't know whether the wall was a prank or an act of revenge.

5. NEW SHERIFF GETS ARRESTED

The citizens of Roane County, West Virginia, elected a new sheriff in November. Bo Williams began his new job last Sunday, but on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News, he was was arrested on charges of grand larceny for stealing meth from an evidence locker at his previous job with the Spencer, West Virginia, police department. Bags of meth with evidence numbers were found in his desk and in his car. Williams had resigned from that job after admitting to drug addiction in December. The Roane County commission removed Williams from office that same day, and asked a former sheriff to step in to run the department. Williams is out of jail on bond and may face up to 10 years in prison.

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