News of the Weird

Lead Story
*NASA revealed in May that it had inadvertently allowed an astronaut impostor to sit at the mission control console at Alabama's Marshall Space Center during a shuttle flight in which actual astronauts were preparing to rescue a satellite from space. Jerry Allen Whittredge was arrested in Houston and charged with lying to officials, but his lawyer said he is mentally incompetent to stand trial. When asked why NASA couldn't identify its real astronauts, a spokesperson merely said Whittredge made a credible impression.

Thieves Thinking Large
*Sometime between March and May, thieves stole an eighteen-ton steel bridge that connected an isolated cottage to a main road near Bytow, Poland. And in May in Liverpool, England, thieves stole about 250 feet of a street (5000 cobblestones). Also in May thieves stole the entire left field fence of the Capitola-Soquel (California) Little League field.

Insufficiently Attentive People
*In February Timothy Devine, age 37, thought he had merely been struck in the ear while in a Boston park trying to purchase marijuana and that he could walk off the pain. When he decided to go to Quincy Hospital, attendants confirmed his sneaking suspicion that he had been shot in the head.

*In March a 20-year-old man was charged with attempted murder in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, for stabbing a 29-year-old man, an acquaintance, in the head. The victim walked out of his apartment after the stabbing, fully conscious and speaking despite the fact that the butcher knife was still embedded in his skull. He survived.

You Heard It Here First
*In May, according to Pasadena, California, Fire Department Chief Joe Nestor, about 1000 swifts (a small migratory bird similar to a swallow) flew down the chimney of a couple's home and filled their house. And in Augusta, Georgia, thousands of bees swarmed on Betty Robinson's 1984 Buick, possibly because of the new brand of car air freshener she was using. In May in Weymouth, England, about 20,000 bees covered Jane Clark's house. Clark, trapped inside, could not get the town council to help her because, said a spokesman, bees are a protected species. The bees left of their own accord after two days.

*In March in New York City, Adonis Gomez, age two, playing on the sofa in a third-floor apartment, bounced out the window but landed safely in the lap of Barbara Jones, age 31, who was sitting in a wheelchair on the sidewalk. A month earlier in Brooklyn, Bishme Owens, age two, was thrown out of an eighth-floor window by his grandmother (who has a history of mental illness). His descent was slowed by tree branches; he landed in a flower bed and broke only his arm.

*In May at Beaver Brook Golf Course in Haydenville, Massachusetts, Todd Obuchowski was credited with a hole-in-one on a par-three hole after his tee shot went over the green and onto a highway, hit a passing Toyota, ricocheted back to the green, and rolled into the cup. At least eight other golfers witnessed the shot.

*In May in Aelesund, Norway, Kristin Nalvik Loendal, age nine, who rode her bike down a steep hill and failed to stop at an intersection, swerved into the path of an oncoming car and was knocked into the air. The driver of the car stopped to help the girl but couldn't find her. As he discovered several hours later, she had landed in the bed of a truck going the opposite direction and sustained only bruises.

-- By Chuck Shepherd