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 V.14 No.7 | February 17 - 23, 2005 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Australia—A fire station in Sydney allegedly missed an emergency call because one of the crewmembers was off picking up a pizza in the station's fire truck. The New South Wales Fire Brigade has launched an inquiry into the incident at Maroubra fire station. After picking up the pizza, the fireman allegedly took some friends for a joyride. During the time the fire engine was away, the station received an emergency call and was unable to respond. Two other fire crews did manage to answer the call, but officials are still taking the incident quite seriously. “This is not a humorous situation,” warned state opposition emergency services spokesman Andrew Humpherson. “This was a fire truck and somebody could have died.”

Dateline: Michigan—At 1:30 a.m. last Friday, a 4-year-old boy living in the Old Mill Apartments in Sand Lake drove to the video store in his mother's Geo Prizm. Although he was unable to reach car's pedals or see out the windshield, he managed to put the car in gear and steer it a quarter mile down Northland Boulevard. When he got to the video store, he discovered it was closed and turned the car around to return home. It was then, weaving down the road with no lights, that the vehicle was spotted by Sand Lake police officer Jay Osga. Seeing no one behind the steering wheel, Officer Osga assumed it was a runaway car left idling at a gas pump. When the car turned into an apartment complex and struck two other cars, however, Osga turned on his lights. The 4-year-old motorist then threw the car in reverse and backed into the police car. No charges have been filed against the boy or his mother. “He's 4 years old, his mom didn't even know he was up,” Sand Lake Police Chief Doug Heugal told the Grand Rapids Press. “I don't think he even realizes what he did.”

Dateline: Michigan—Remember the good old days when mom used to bring you your lunch at school? According to a report in Detroit's Daily Tribune, 41-year-old Sheila Black of Metamora, was arrested in the parking lot of Ferndale High School after delivering a syringe full of heroine to her teenage son during the school's lunch hour. Police said they'd set up surveillance of Black after they received a tip that she was planning to give heroin to her son. Officers searched the woman's car and found a cosmetic bag with 10 packs of heroin and a loaded syringe. “She took one of the packs of heroin and cooked it up in a spoon and drew the liquid into a syringe so he could take it into a bathroom at school and shoot it up,” Ferndale police Detective George Hartley told the newspaper. Black was arrested before her son, who lives with his father, received the drugs. Black is remarried and is also under a court order barring her from having any contact with her son. Black was charged last Wednesday with possession of less than 50 grams of heroin with intent to deliver.

Dateline: California—A man's literate scam has wound up costing him far more than he ever imagined--nearly $2 billion more, in fact. Last week, a jury decided that 77-year-old Ben Waldrep had committed fraud when he held an essay contest to give away his Manhattan Beach home. The retired aerospace engineer, whose wife died of cancer in 2000, held a “Why I Want to Live in Manhattan Beach, Calif.” essay contest. He charged 1,812 people a $195 entry fee to participate in the competition. Waldrep pledged that 10 percent of the entry fees would be donated to a local charity that had assisted his dying wife. When the contest ended, however, Waldrep did not move out of his house. The winner, a Canadian man identified as David McNair, allegedly refused the prize. Suspecting a scam, one of the losing entrants, Don Coulson, sued Waldrep in 2002. McNair, who allegedly lives in Canada and is therefore outside the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles court, never materialized to explain his actions. Last week, the jury ordered Waldrep to split the worth of his house, sold last year for approximately $1 million, among the 1,812 essayists. Unfortunately, in an unusual mixup, the jurors inadvertently awarded the 1,812 essay contestants $1 million each. Jurors discovered their $1.8 billion mistake while chatting with lawyers after the trial. When they attempted to return to the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Andria Richey to rectify the situation, they were informed that it was too late: They had already been dismissed. Waldrep's lawyer said he will seek to have the judgment set aside next month when Richey reviews the jury's recommendation and hears objections.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.


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