Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
4 min read
(Eric J. Garcia)
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Dateline: New York– A rude motorcyclist who flipped the bird at a police cruiser and then popped a wheelie is recovering from injuries after crashing. Suffolk County Police said Frank Patti, 26, of West Islip, rode by the police car at a service station in Copiague at 7:30 p.m. last Sunday. Police say Patti made an obscene gesture to two officers in the car, popped a wheelie and then sped away. Police gave chase and, shortly thereafter, Patti turned into a parking lot and crashed into another police car that had joined the chase. Patti was treated for minor injuries at Southside Hospital. He’s charged with fleeing police, resisting arrest and several traffic violations.

Dateline: Florida– Pasco County substitute teacher Jim Piculas’ teaching career came to an end in January when he was allegedly accused of using “wizardry” in school. Piculas admits he employed a simple sleight-of-hand trick to make a toothpick disappear for a group of rapt students at Rushe Middle School in Land O’ Lakes. A week after the substitute gig, Piculas got a call from Pat Sinclair, who oversees substitute teachers in the Pasco County School District. She told Piculas there had been a complaint about his performance at the school. He asked what she meant. “She said, ‘You’ve been accused of wizardry,’ ” Piculas told the Tampa Tribune. Assistant Superintendent Renalia DuBose told the newspaper “there was a lot more involved” than a simple magic-trick demonstration. “The toothpick demonstration was minor compared to the other problems,” she said. In a letter the district sent to Piculas, performing a magic trick at Rushe Middle is just one of the reasons the district gives for dumping him from the substitute-teacher list. The others are that Piculas did not follow the lesson plans, he allowed students on computers even though another teacher said not to and he told the fifth-period student peer that she was in charge. Piculas said he still thinks his troubles all come down to the disappearing-toothpick trick and a student who may have interpreted the trick as wizardry. One student in the class apparently took the trick the wrong way, Piculas said. He said he was told the student became so traumatized that the student’s father complained. Piculas had worked as a substitute teacher for eight or nine months, spending time at 15 schools. He said he also was working toward teacher certification with the dream of being hired full-time.

Dateline: Nebraska– An Omaha man who performed a tracheotomy on himself with a steak knife says this is actually the second time he’s been called upon to perform the emergency medical procedure. Steve Wilder, 55, told the Kansas City Star that his throat is shrunken because of radiation treatments for cancer. Those treatments ended four years ago, but scar tissue remains. He said seasonal allergies may have caused his struggle to breathe overnight on April 30. He woke up that night choking after falling asleep while watching television. His wife, Cora, telephoned for an ambulance. “I thought they might get here fast enough that I wouldn’t have to do that,” Wilder told the newspaper regarding his second self-tracheotomy. “But I couldn’t breathe no more.” The 55-year-old bolted for the kitchen and picked up a steak knife. “I knew that would chop it open pretty good,” he said. “I didn’t feel no pain. I was just trying to survive. I got relief right away. There was a big gush of blood, and I was able to start sucking in air.” Wilder was later taken to a hospital where he was given antibiotics to prevent a possible infection. The 55-year-old says he’s doing fine and is already back at work.

Dateline: Texas– Three teens have been charged with abuse of a corpse after they dug up the body of an 11-year-old boy and used the skull as a bong to smoke marijuana. Kevin Wade Jones and Matthew Richard Gonzalez, both 17, of Kingwood, and a 16-year-old friend were being held on misdemeanor charges after Jones spilled the beans about the grave theft while being interrogated for a stolen debit card. Police said the grave was that of an 11-year-old boy named Willie Simms who died in 1921. The grave site was part of a 19 th century veterans cemetery that was not maintained. The teens dug up the corpse on March 15 before decapitating it and then using the skull to smoke pot.

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

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