Odds & Ends
A home owner in Mainhausen, near Offenbach in west-central Germany, returned to his house from a night shift to find that someone had constructed a brick wall outside his front door. Local police were at a loss to explain the overnight construction project. “We don’t know if it was a prank. It could also be revenge or a dare,” officer Ingbert Zacharias told Geman news outlet hessenschau.de. Police commented in an official statement that the act must have made the victim feel “like a Berliner in August 1961.” The unexplained wall appeared on the morning of Jan. 2, and the homeowner was forced to use an ax to break into his home. According to the BBC, police estimated the wall caused about 500 euros ($525) in property damage.
British police say they have found a missing BMW after it was lost in a parking garage for six months. Greater Manchester Police for the City Centre tweeted on Dec. 30 that officers had located the missing BMW in a multistory parking garage. The vehicle was lost in June of last year. Police told the Manchester Evening News that a friend of the owner borrowed the car and drove it down from Scotland in order to attend a Stone Roses concert at Etihad Stadium but forgot where they parked it. According to the original Manchester Police tweet, the “driver apparently spent five days searching car parks in the city before reporting as lost/stolen.” The abandoned BMW was finally located by police at around midnight on Dec. 30, tucked safely in one of the city’s multistory car parks. “We can’t imagine what the ticket machine is going to say when they finally put the ticket in,” GMP City Centre added in a follow-up tweet. Officers estimated that if the garage charges the vehicle owner the full rate, the six-month parking fee would come to around £5,000 ($6,155).
A missing toucan has been returned to its owner after spending eight months on the loose in Orange County. Fern the toucan escaped from the aviary behind 39-year-old Courtney Chapman’s home in Fullerton. Fern was one of two toucans Chapman purchased as birthday gifts for her husband and son. The $5,000 bird vanished less than 15 minutes after being dropped off by the breeder. Chapman was told the chances she’d see the wayward bird again were “slim to none.” But there were so many toucan sightings in the area that Chapman started a Facebook page. Fern soon became a local celebrity, with various sightings, photos and videos posted to the Facebook page. Despite the many sightings the toucan remained on the lam since May of last year. Fern’s freedom came to an end on Jan. 3 when she flew into a Yorba Linda auto repair shop and was eventually captured by Connor Chubbuck, a worker with Omar’s Exotic Birds in Brea. The bird was returned to its owners two days later. “It was awesome seeing all of Fullerton come together and track Fern, well-wishing her constantly,” Chapman told the Orange County Register. “I’m glad she got to go out and share her experiences.” According to Fern’s Facebook page, her owners are now starting work on a “new premium custom aviary.”
A Cross Roads, Texas family is suing Apple, claiming that its FaceTime app caused a driver to ram into the couple’s car, killing their 5-year-old daughter. Parents James and Bethany Modisette filed a lawsuit on Dec. 23 in California Superior Court, claiming the computer giant failed “to warn users that the product was likely to be dangerous when used or misused.” The accident at the heart of it all occurred on Christmas Eve in 2014. According to the lawsuit, the Modisettes were driving in a Toyota Camry with their daughter Moriah and her sister Isabella when they stopped their car because police activity ahead of them on the highway had caused traffic to back up. Another driver, Garrett Wilhelm, driving his Toyota 4Runner in the same direction, allegedly had his attention diverted by using his phone’s FaceTime app. The suit claims that, “As a result of that distraction, his Toyota 4Runner, while traveling at full highway speed (65 mph), struck the Modisette family car from behind.” All four members of the Modisette family were injured in the crash. Moriah later died from her injuries. According to the suit, Wilhelm told police at the scene that he was using FaceTime on his iPhone at the time of the crash. According to The Denton Record-Chronicle, Wilhelm was indicted on manslaughter charges by a grand jury in Denton County. A jury trial is set to begin Feb. 27. Despite that, the Modisettes are suing Apple for unspecified damages, claiming that the company failed to warn users about the dangers of driving while operating its popular video conferencing app and failing to use a “safer, alternate design” that would have prevented people from accessing the app while driving at highway speed. Texas does not have a comprehensive law about cell phone use while driving.