Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Crossing borders," June 23, 2007

Get Shorty

A full-fledged manhunt came to an unlikely end when German police popped open a car trunk to find not an abducted boy but a dwarf mechanic listening for engine trouble. Police sped into action when a women phoned emergency responders saying she had seen someone close a trunk door on what seemed to be a boy before driving off. In reality, the "boy" was 27-year-old mechanic Klaus "Shorty" Mueller who frequently rides in trunks to diagnose engine problems.

High turnover

Thrill seekers at the Magic Springs and Crystal Falls amusement park in Hot Springs, Ark., probably weren't anticipating this much excitement.

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A power outage left a dozen riders of the X-Coaster dangling upside down at the pinnacle of a loop for about 30 minutes before fire fighters could stage a rescue. Good news: Apparently just one rider vomited.

Only mostly dead

Straight out of a nightmare: An Irishman quite possibly saved his life by twitching his hand just before hospital personnel, suspecting him dead, were to place him in a mortuary refrigerator. Doctors at Mater Hospital in Dublin had declared 47-year-old Freddie Maguire dead on Easter following a 30-minute fight to save his life after a heart attack. With an official declaration made and funeral plans underway, hospital workers were transferring Maguire to the mortuary when a nurse noticed the man's hand twitching. "My granddaughter came up to me that night when I was outside having a smoke and she said, 'Freddie is alive.' I nearly choked," Maguire's aunt told the Times. "I didn't believe her until I saw him with my own eyes." Maguire is now back home recovering.

Carnivorous catch

As if there needed to be another reason not to swim in the Ohio River, a Chilo, Ohio, boy pulled a surprise out of the big river in June: a piranha, or something like it. "I thought it was like a 10-pound catfish, reeling it in," said Kyle Owens. "I thought, 'It's a big blue gill,' and I was about to stick my thumb into its mouth and then I saw its teeth." Though initially thought to be a piranha, experts believe the fish to be a pacu, a piranha cousin native to the Amazon and just as toothy. Officials also say the fish is most likely to be an aberration-perhaps a pet fish dumped into the river from someone's aquarium.

Repentant sinner

New York police who had long considered the 2004 slaying of a homeless woman a cold case were shocked when an Arizona man walked into their offices in June and confessed to the murder almost exactly three years later. Michael Mohr, 51, told officers he killed Myrna Gonzalez, but that following a Christian conversion, he felt he needed to confess his sin. "He was relieved," one law enforcement official told the New York Post. "He was a little emotional. He was just glad to get it off his chest." And while his body will soon belong to the state of New York, his soul seems to belong to Jesus.

A seat up front

Hitchhiking is dangerous enough. But accidental hitchhiking? Onlookers watched in horror as a 21-year-old wheelchair-bound man was softly struck by a slow-moving 18-wheeler in Paw Paw, Mich. But instead of being knocked over, the man's wheelchair became lodged in the grill of the semi. As the driver, unaware of his extra cargo, navigated through town for perhaps two miles, frantic onlookers dialed 911 before the driver eventually stopped. The wheelchair-bound man, who was not injured, called it "quite a ride."

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