Odds & Ends
Dateline: Sweden—A 51-year-old man was acquitted of drunk driving because the court couldn’t rule out the possibility that he was sleepwalking. The man, who was not identified, had a blood alcohol level nearly 10 times the country’s legal limit when he was arrested in May, reports Swedish daily The Local. The man said he awoke late one evening in the driver’s seat of his car, which had landed in a ditch in Karlskrona in southern Sweden. The driver was wearing a T-shirt and sweat pants and told police he was on his way to replenish his supply of snus, a moist powdered tobacco snuff popular in Sweden. The man later claimed to have no memory of his post-accident interview with officers, but that “he spoke with a police officer and that he was in shock and extremely intoxicated when the interview took place.” During trial, the man’s doctor said he may have been sleepwalking at the time of the arrest, as he had previously displayed “what could be interpreted as sleepwalking.” A judge in Blekinge District Court tossed out the drunk driving charge, stating that “it cannot be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the man was aware of his actions when he drove the car.” The man’s attorney said he expected prosecutors to appeal the decision.
Dateline: Germany—An elderly couple were shot at by a burning log as they enjoyed a nice warm fire in their home. Bielefeld Police in Western Germany believe a discarded bullet from World War II was lodged in one of the flaming pieces of wood inside the couple’s fireplace. The live round apparently became embedded in the growing tree over the last 70 years and remained inside the cut firewood. When the locked-and-loaded log burned down, the cartridge exploded, smashing glass in the surrounding parlor and causing damage to the room. The 84-year-old wife suffered cuts to the face from flying glass, while her 85-year-old husband was struck in his hand. Local police say the bullet casing proved it was a type used in the 1939-45 war.
Dateline: France—Eleven people, including several children, were injured after they jumped out the third-story window of a suburban Paris apartment building. One, a 4-month-old baby, died after being rushed to the hospital. The other victims, all of African origin, were hospitalized with multiple injuries. Many details surrounding the early-morning incident remain unclear. A judicial official told reporters there was no emergency, such as a fire, in the building at the time. Initially, police suggested the people jumped after one of the women involved became hysterical and started shouting that she’d seen the devil. Later French television reports said the tragedy occurred when one of the men living in the apartment took off his clothes and entered a room where the others were watching television—which seems like an even lousier reason to commit mass suicide. The naked man, who reportedly woke up to feed his crying baby, may have been mistaken for the devil and stabbed by one or more of his roommates. Police questioned the 30-year-old allegedly Satanic nudist and another resident who jumped out the window holding a 2-year-old, but it appears no one was taken into custody. Investigators are still trying to clarify whether everyone in the apartment jumped voluntarily or if someone forced them to do so.
Dateline: California—A San Joaquin County woman is trying to understand how her husband, who suffers from dementia, escaped from a health care facility, bought a new truck and led police on a high-speed chase. According to Manteca Police Sgt. Ralph Colin, Donald Davis was reported missing from the Manteca Care and Rehabilitation Center on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 28. A search was begun for the 67-year-old, who vanished while he was wearing pajamas and slippers and sitting in a wheelchair. Davis’s wife Janet told KXTV News10 she found a number for the Cabral Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership by her husband’s bedside. She said she called the dealership, but workers said they had not seen Donald. In fact, they had seen the man and had sold him a brand-new Dodge pickup with custom chrome wheels. “I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen?” Mrs. Davis told the television station. “He didn’t have a wallet or driver’s license. They threw his wheelchair in the back of the truck and gave him the keys.” Donald Davis managed to put some 300 miles on the truck before police caught up with him in the nearby town of Pleasanton. A “short pursuit where speeds reached upwards of 103 miles per hour” ensued, according to Sgt. Colin. After the chase, Mr. Davis was taken to a hospital where he died of heart failure. Manteca Police are investigating the incident. No charges have been filed.