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Weirdos, Train Surfers, and Animal Troublemakers
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Good-Natured Weirdos

Three teenagers from Rahway, New Jersey, who call themselves the Rahway Bushmen, have been discouraged from their signature prank: dressing up as bushes and popping up in Rahway River Park to say “Hi!” to unsuspecting passersby. reported in October that the Union County Police Department warned the Bushmen that they would be arrested if caught in action. The high school students started by jumping out to scare people, but decided to soften their approach with a gentler greeting. “We were trying to be harmless,” one of the Bushmen said. “It’s more or less an idea to try to make people smile.” But Union County Public Information Officer Sebastian D’Elia deadpanned: “It’s great until the first person falls and sues the county.” Or puts an eye out.

Animal Troublemakers

• Pilots were warned of “low sealings” at Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport in Utqiagvik, Alaska, on Oct. 23 because of an obstruction on the runway: a 450-pound bearded seal. Meadow Bailey of the Alaska Department of Transportation told KTVA-TV that the city, also known as Barrow, was hit by heavy storms that day, and airport staff discovered the seal while clearing the runway. However, staff are not authorized to handle marine animals, so North Slope Animal Control stepped in, using a sled to remove the seal. Bailey said animals such as musk ox, caribou and polar bears are common on the runway, but the seal was a first.

• About two dozen car owners in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Snellville, Georgia, were perturbed in late October by what they thought was vandalism: Their cars’ side mirrors were being shattered, even in broad daylight. Finally, according to WSB-TV, one resident caught the real perpetrator: a pileated woodpecker who apparently believes his reflection in the mirrors is a rival. Because pileated woodpeckers are a protected species, neighbors had to get creative with their solution. They are now placing plastic bags over their side mirrors while the cars are parked.

Undignified Death

Nathan William Parris, 72, met his unfortunate end when a cow he was trying to move turned against him at his farm in Floyd County, Georgia, on Oct. 25. Parris was pinned against a fence by the recalcitrant cow, reported the Rome News-Tribune, which caused him severe chest trauma. First responders tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at the Redmond Regional Medical Center emergency room.


• Workers at a Carl’s Jr. in Santa Rosa, California, were busy filling an order for 165 Super Star burgers for first responders to the Fountaingrove area wildfires on Oct. 26 when a grease fire broke out in the restaurant. The fire started in the char broiler and then jumped to the exhaust system. Franchise co-owner Greg Funkhouser told The Press-Democrat the building was “completely torn up. ... We made it through the big one, only to get taken out by this.” When the person who placed the order arrived to pick it up, he saw six Santa Rosa Fire Department trucks in the parking lot and left, so Funkhouser handed out free burgers to “anyone around.”

• A Henrietta, New York, gifts and oddities store earned its name on Oct. 24 when a garbage truck rolled between two gas pumps and across a road to crash into the 200-year-old building where the store had opened in June. Jeri Flack, owner of A Beautiful Mess, told WHAM-TV that her building is “wrecked in the front so bad that I can’t open back up.” Witnesses say the truck driver pulled into a spot at a Sunoco station across the street and got out to use the restroom. That’s when the truck rolled away and barreled into the business. Sunoco employee T.J. Rauber said, “I see a lot of crazy stuff up here, but I ain’t never seen nothing like that.”

Least Competent Criminal

Burglary suspect and career criminal Shane Paul Owen, 46, of South Salt Lake, Utah, was on the run from police on Oct. 24 when he dashed into a vacant church. A Salt Lake City SWAT team held a standoff at the church for more than six hours -- until Owen called 911 to say that he was locked in the church’s boiler room and couldn’t get out. “Can you hurry?” he asked the dispatcher. “I need to talk to them first so they don’t ... shoot me,” Owen pleaded. The Deseret News reported he was booked on outstanding warrants for retaliation against a witness, drug distribution and identity fraud.

Thinning the Herd

In Paris, a 21-year-old “train surfer” was killed on Oct. 24 when he fell to the train tracks after hitting an overhead obstacle. His two friends, who were riding atop a train on Metro Line 6 with him, ran away from the scene, according to The Sun. The three had been attempting the stunt at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge during rush hour. The unnamed victim was dead at the scene.