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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

Police were pursuing hit-and-run suspect Keith W. Brown, 54, in Waynesboro, Va., when Brown's SUV got stuck in a large pile of mulch and soft clay. Brown exited the vehicle and tried to flee on foot — using a walker. He was quickly arrested. (Staunton's The News Leader)

A man entered the Grant Street Barber Shop in Akron, Ohio, pulled a gun and demanded money. The barber told police he refused to hand over the money and dared the robber to shoot him. The gunman aimed at the barber and pulled the trigger, but the weapon jammed. The suspect fled empty-handed. (Akron Beacon Journal)

Big-bang theory

Intending to quit smoking, Tom Holloway, 57, of Niceville, Fla., switched to electronic cigarettes. He was puffing on one when it exploded in his mouth, severely burning his face, knocking out his front teeth and blowing off a chunk of his tongue. "The best analogy is like it was trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth when it went off," North Bay Fire Department Division Chief Joseph Parker said. (Associated Press)

Culinary capers

Up to a third of customers at a Chinese restaurant at North Carolina's Duke University welcomed half-sized portions of rice and noodles, even when they cost the same as full-sized portions, according to researchers led by Tulane University psychologist Janet Schwartz. Citing the study and his own research into smaller portions, Cornell University's Brian Wansink predicted, "We're seeing some very creative ways of downsizing in the next couple of years." (Associated Press)

A man in his 40s was dining at the Heart Attack Grill in downtown Las Vegas when he suffered an apparent heart attack. While eating a "Triple Bypass Burger," he began sweating and shaking and could barely talk, according to owner "Doctor" Jon Basso, who insisted the episode was not a publicity stunt. There have been a "variety of incidents" in the past, he said, but this was the first full-scale coronary. An amateur video shows paramedics wheeling the man from the restaurant to an ambulance. He was hospitalized but survived.

The restaurant, whose "Quadruple Bypass Burger" boasts 8,000 calories and "Flatliner Fries" are cooked in lard, advises patrons, "Caution! This establishment is bad for your health." Customers weighing more than 350 pounds eat free. (Las Vegas's KVVU-TV)

Wrong place & time

When police officers stopped a 1991 Honda Accord in Hermiston, Ore., after recognizing wanted felony suspect Ramel Rodriguez, 31, as a passenger, the driver jumped out and fled. Rodriguez slid into the driver's seat and sped off. He went three blocks before crashing into a 1999 Volkswagen Jetta. Officers arrested Rodriguez, who faces multiple charges. While attending to the driver of the Jetta, they learned he was Steven Broyles, 31, who had outstanding felony warrants for probation violation and was driving with a suspended license. (The Hermiston Herald)

Cheap attack

Authorities charged Verlin Alsept, 59, with trying to rob a Family Dollar Store in Dayton, Ohio, by threatening the store clerk with a single .38 caliber bullet that he pulled from his jacket pocket. The clerk told him she couldn't open the cash register without the manager, so the thwarted robber left — only to be tackled by a private security guard. (Dayton Daily News)

Costly oops

Responding to a complaint of high weeds in Newport News, Va., the city sent a crew to mow the property. It learned afterward that the land was protected wetlands. Facing an expense of at least $7,000 a year for wetlands monitoring and other costs, the city decided to buy the 37-acre property for $950,000. (Associated Press)


The latest extreme sport is Ultimate Tak Ball. Originally called "Ultimate Tazer Ball," the full-contact sport involves teams with four players, each equipped with a stun gun and whose only protective gear is goggles and a mouthpiece (and presumably a groin cup). Players score by putting a 24-inch ball through goals at each end of the 200-by-85-foot rectangular field. Inside an 8-foot semicircular "shock zone" around each goal, defending players may use their stun guns against the ball carrier. The UTB Tasers produce a 300,000-volt stun, which is significantly less than what would be required to kill, and do not fire probes like law-enforcement models. "It's not technically a police-grade Taser," Eric Prum, one of UTB's founders, noted. "That being said, the first thing the (players) will tell you is that they hate getting tased. Those things really do hurt." The league consists of four teams: the L.A. Nightlight, the Philadelphia Killawatts, the San Diego Spartans and the Toronto Terror. Since Canada bans the sport, the Terror doesn't play home games. (Guns & Ammo)

Go, or go, please

After Martin Batieni Kombate, 44, was released from the Coconino County, Ariz., jail, he refused to leave. Officers asked him to leave four other times, and each time he refused. When he finally declared he had no intention of departing, he was arrested and charged with trespassing. (Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun)

Homeland insecurity

As part of a stunt for the television show Mythbusters, a cannonball was supposed to go through some water-filled barrels and a concrete wall at the Alameda County Sheriff's Department bomb range in Dublin, Calif. Instead, it overshot the barrels and then, according to sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson, took a "very unfortunate bounce ... skyward." It landed about 700 feet away, bounced through the front door of a home and out through a back wall, then bounced across the road and smashed the window and dashboard of a minivan. "We had some tremendous bad luck," Nelson said, "and some tremendous good luck" in that no one was hurt. (Contra Costa Times)

More than three years after a steel 155 mm artillery round from the Army's Picatinny Arsenal misfired and crashed through the roof of a home more than a mile away in Jefferson, N.J., the Army offered homeowner Frederick Angle, 56, $7,386.57 to cover the cost of repairing the roof, replacing bedroom furniture and euthanizing the family cat. Citing the emotional distress caused to his family, Angle said he was "disgusted, disillusioned" by the Army's offer. When his lawyer urged him to accept it because of the difficulty of getting more money from the federal government, Angle began looking for a new lawyer to pursue his case, pointing out, "It would be un-American to give up the fight." (Newark's The Star-Ledger)

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