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News Quirks (03/26/14)


Published March 26, 2014 at 4:00 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Carlos Ruiz, 42, stole a sound system and other values from a home in Haddon Township, N.J., according to police, who identified him as their suspect after he returned a half hour later for the remote he forgot the first time. (

Christopher Brent Fulton, 30, surrendered to authorities after seeing his photo as the suspect being sought for attempted bank robbery in Midwest City, Okla. He handed the teller a holdup note written on the back of a personal check but left it behind when he fled empty-handed, thinking he had tripped an alarm. The personal information on the check had been scratched out with a pen, but investigators were still able to read it and determine it belonged to Fulton's mother. (Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV)

Up in the Air

At least 150 commercial flights have landed at the wrong airport or started to land and realized their mistake in time, according to government safety data and news reports since the early 1990s. The biggest trouble spot is Moffett Field, a joint civilian-military airport in San Jose, Calif., where six flights heading for Mineta San Jose International Airport 10 miles to the southeast have tried to land. Most incidents occur at night, when pilots have disregarded their navigation equipment because the information didn't match what they were seeing out their windows. "You've got these runway lights, and you are looking at them, and they're saying, 'Come to me, come to me. I will let you land.' They're like the sirens of the ocean," said former Air Force pilot Michael Barr, who teaches aviation safety at the University of California. (Associated Press)

After a jet aborted its takeoff at Florida's MacDill Air Force Base because the crew thought it had hit a bird, possibly an osprey, wildlife manager Lindsey Garven searched the runway for a dead bird but found only a fish. DNA samples from the fish and the jet confirmed the accident was a fish strike. Garven said the nine-inch sheepshead was probably dropped by a bird that had been eating it on the runway until the jet scared it off. The incident is only the second reported collision between an aircraft and a fish, the first having occurred in 1987 between a fish and a Boeing 737 taking off from Juneau, Alaska. (Tampa Tribune and New York Times)

Slightest Provocation

Fred John Govern, 92, died from cardiac arrest after a fistfight at a nursing home in Orwigsburg, Pa., that started when another resident cut in line at dinner. "My father had to have said something to him about jumping the line, which I know he would do, knowing my father," Fred Govern Jr. said. "The guy just turned around when my father checked him and started punching him." (Philadelphia's WPVI-TV)

When a man refused to buy a woman with him a McFlurry at a McDonald's restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla., witnesses said the woman headed for his car, poured alcohol and gasoline on it, lit it on fire and then ran off. After people helped the man put out the fire, he drove away. (Orlando's WFTV-TV)

NIMBY Nincompoop

As CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson promotes hydraulic fracturing and condemns its critics and "dysfunctional regulation" that he insists "is holding back the American economic recovery, growth and global competitiveness." As a homeowner, however, Tillerson has joined a lawsuit to block construction of a 160-foot tower next to his $5 million Texas home that would supply water to a nearby fracking site. The suit argues that the project would cause too much noise and traffic. Tillerson's lawyer said his client's concern is about the devaluation of his property, not fracking, although fracking opponent Rep. Jared Police (D-Colo.) responded to Tillerson's suit by announcing, "We are thrilled to have the CEO of a major international oil and gas corporation join our quickly multiplying ranks." (Wall Street Journal)

Child's Play

The driver of a car that got stuck in a ditch in Vestoppland, Norway, told a passing snowplow operator that he ran off the road while making a U-turn to return home to get his driver's license. When the plow operator eyed him suspiciously, the diminutive driver explained that he was a dwarf. He was actually a 10-year-old boy joyriding with his 18-month-old sister in their family car. "He asked for help to tow his vehicle so they could continue their journey," police officer Kai Lyshaugen said. Instead, the plow operator notified the authorities. (United Press International)