News of the Weird: January 2006

January 30, 2006

Researcher Jean-Louis Martin of the Universite Claude Bernard inLyon, France, found (for a December British Medical Journal article) that consuming cannabis (marijuana) doubled motorists’ likelihood of a fatal auto collision, and alarming news headlines about the report followed. Less prominently noted in the article, and consequently in news reports, was that drivers impaired by alcohol were six times more likely than an unimpaired driver to have a fatal collision, thus suggesting that the generally illegal drug, cannabis, is only one-third as dangerous for drivers as the legal drug, alcohol. [New Scientist, 12-2-05]


Not Cut Out for a Life of Crime: (1) Three men who police say stole a car in San Jose, Calif., in October and drove it to Chico, Calif., were arrested in Chico when police caught them trying to break into that same car because they had locked the keys inside (or thought they had, since Chico Officer Jose Lara said he found the keys in one of the men’s pockets, after all). (2) Adam Ruiz, 29, was arrested in Buffalo, N.Y., in January after he showed up at work as a trainee at the same Burger King he had allegedly robbed the week before (strengthening the conclusion that crime certainly does not pay if it pays less well than burger-flipping.) [Chico Enterprise-Record, 11-4-05] [The Buffalo News, 1-13-06]


The family of a 55-year-old motorcyclist filed a lawsuit in December over the man’s death, which allegedly occurred when he was hit on Highway 16 near Custer, S.D., by an airborne toilet. (The portable toilet had come off of a truck of Sander Sanitation Co.) And a 47-year-old passenger in a pickup truck on the way to work near Childersburg, Ala., in January, was killed instantly by an airborne deer (struck by an oncoming car and knocked through the pickup’s windshield). [Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 12-23-05] [Daily Home ( Talladega, Ala.), 1-10-06]


Stephanie Conley gave an agent for West Virginia National insurance company a $174 check on Aug. 15 (in 2001) for automobile coverage, received the “issued” policy on Aug. 30 (“effective” Aug. 15), and on Aug. 31 was involved in a collision resulting from her negligence. However, by then her $174 check had bounced, and the company considered the policy null and void. In December 2005, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Conley was nonetheless covered on Aug. 31 because the company had not given her 10 days’ cancellation notice. [Herald-Dispatch ( Huntington, W.Va.), 12-10-05]


With an Oakland Tribune reporter and 20 people looking on in November in a parking lot in Fremont, Calif., Tu Jin-Sheng, 50, “grandmaster” in one of the Chinese arts of Qigong, pulled a rental truck several yards using only a piece of fabric tied to the base of his genitals. Jin-Sheng is supposedly a leader of the branch of Qigong known as “Iron Crotch,” whose 60,000 adherents worldwide believe that strengthening the genitals increases energy. To warm up for the pull, Jin-Sheng had an assistant kick him hard between the legs. [Oakland Tribune, 11-23-05]


Two men, aged 50 and 36, who had taken a taxicab home so they wouldn’t be driving drunk, were killed when the cab was hit by a 21-year-old drunken driver (Albuquerque, November). And a 21-year-old Mormon man, riding in a truck at about 35 mph with his brothers, who were offending him by cussing, demanded that they stop or he would jump out; one of the brothers, perhaps jokingly, said, Go ahead, and the man did and was killed when his head hit the pavement (South Jordan, Utah, November). [Albuquerque Journal, 11-25-05] [KSL-TV (Salt Lake City), 11-12-05]


Most Convenient Ambulance Chase: In November, according to an Indianapolis Star report of a local accident, an SUV driver collided with another car, causing the SUV to crash into an office building, partially smashing through a wall. Among the building’s tenants: the personal-injury law firm Mitchell Hurst Jacobs & Dick, which specializes in automobile accidents. [Indianapolis Star, 11-30-05]

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