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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced in September that officials had made a mistake the week before when they prevented Bobby Martin, a senior at Colonel White High School in Dayton, from finishing a football game because he wasn't wearing knee pads, thigh pads, or shoes. Martin, who was born without legs, gets around well enough on his hands to start at nose tackle for the JV team; he also plays on the varsity punt-return unit. An OHSAA spokesperson said the earlier ruling had "erred on the side of caution" and confirmed Martin's eligibility for the rest of the season.

Can't Possibly Be True

Scott Bolton filed a lawsuit in September against officials and guards at the prison in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, seeking damages for brain and spinal injuries that have left him confined to a wheelchair. Bolton, then awaiting trial for the theft of several ATVs, and fellow inmate Hugo Selenski (also named as a defendant in the suit) were allegedly trying to break out of the prison in 2003 when Bolton fell out the window of their cell. He claims that tighter security would have prevented the whole episode.

Questionable Judgments

Stephen Sodones, 62, was hospitalized in August after being bitten three times on the arm by a copperhead snake that he had picked up in an attempt to help it safely cross Route 23 in Jefferson, New Jersey. (According to a neighbor interviewed in the Newark Star-Ledger, Sodones is a committed animal lover who likes to feed bears and once successfully revived a stunned bumblebee by warming it in his hands.) And Delshawn Prejean, 35, was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, in June after a server at Starbucks identified him to security as the guy who'd left her a small pile of marijuana as a tip the day before.

The Daily Mail reported in August on a secondary school in Nottinghamshire, England, that had adopted a temporary policy under which students would be allowed to use the "f word" five times per lesson without punishment. Officials at the Weavers School in Wellingborough said that by keeping a tally of occurrences on the blackboard (at least at first), teachers would be conveying their disapproval while acknowledging the realities of everyday language; some education leaders and politicians, however, suggested it would simply encourage kids to max out usage in each class.

Signs of the Times

Ismael Velasquez, 47, was convicted of drug possession and tampering with evidence in Williamson County, Texas, in September. The previous January, less than a day after completing ten months in jail for an earlier possession conviction, Velasquez had apparently panicked when he saw police officers, run into a service station bathroom, and tried to flush a plastic bag--later found to contain cocaine--down the toilet; a county prosecutor said that modern low-flow toilets simply don't have the flushing power to successfully get rid of such buoyant items.

Awesome!

In June, Thomas Stefanelli, a 37-year-old driver for Hungry Howie's Pizza in Tampa, Florida, arrived at a delivery address to find a vacant house; a masked man quickly approached and tried to hold him up at gunpoint. Stefanelli resisted, shots were fired--one hit him in the thigh--and the would-be robber fled. Since his cell phone wasn't working, Stefanelli drove to his next stop, where he dropped off a pizza, examined his wound, and called Hungry Howie's to have them notify the police. He made three more deliveries, then went to the hospital.

In London in July, a 15-year-old girl (unnamed in press accounts) was rescued at 4 AM from the arm of a 130-foot-tall crane. She had apparently sleepwalked to a construction site from her house nearby, then climbed the crane, walked along its narrow arm, and curled up on the huge concrete counterweight, all without waking up. After someone spotted her and notified the police, a firefighter climbed up and found her fast asleep; to minimize the chances of her panicking, he located her cell phone, called her parents, and had them call back to wake her up. She was lowered via hydraulic lift.

Fetishes on Parade

Construction worker Toru Nagasawa, 29, was arrested in Kawasaki, Japan, in July after allegedly forcing a 31-year-old man to give up his contact lenses; at Nagasawa's home police reportedly recovered 124 pairs of eyeglasses and 30 pairs of contacts stored in plastic bags. And Stephen Schroeder, 60, was arrested in Carteret County, North Carolina, in August; police said he'd been responsible for a string of more than 50 burglaries over an 18-month period, in which he'd allegedly stolen 137 pairs of shoes and more than a vanful of athletic clothing, all belonging to teenage boys. According to a detective, Schroeder said of the items that he "had a need to hold them and possess them."

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Kim Bedwell, 52, and his wife, Gladys Bedwell, 50, were arrested in Clarkston, Washington, in September for marijuana manufacturing and possession with intent to deliver. Their alleged home-growing operation was discovered when police happened to chase a runaway black bear into their backyard. Apparently believing the commotion to be a raid, Kim allegedly threw a large marijuana plant over a high fence; unfortunately it landed on one of the officers.

Cultural Diversity

The Daily News of Sri Lanka reported in September that the Sri Lankan cabinet had decided to lower the age of sexual consent from 16 to 13 because, according to spokesperson Nimal Siripala de Silva, too many men were being arrested under the old law. Also in September, Nepal's supreme court ordered the government to ban and denounce a traditional regional practice of confining women to cowsheds during their periods.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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