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Weird National Briefs (03/28/2018)

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Great escapes

HIGH POINT, N.C. - Authorities say a man in handcuffs stole the patrol car he was in when the deputy had to respond to an emergency call in North Carolina.

Guilford County Sheriff’s spokesman Randy Powers said a series of unusual events led to 31-year-old Carl “Preston” Davis stealing the car Thursday night.

Powers says a deputy arrested Davis on a second-degree kidnapping charge, handcuffed his hands behind him and put him in the front seat because the spare patrol car he was using had no divider.

Powers says the officer then had to respond to a breaking-and-entering call because he was the only deputy in the area.

Powers told media outlets when the deputy left the car, Davis slipped his handcuffed hands in front of him and drove off. He hasn’t been found.

TME – Is there such a thing as grander theft auto?

Wandering wallaby

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Residents of a southern Mississippi city are coming together to help a distraught pet owner find his runaway wallaby.

The Hattiesburg American reports that Jeff, the 2-year-old pet wallaby, has been lost for nearly two weeks, and the community is helping owner Logan Whitehead track him down.

Area businesses are offering hundreds in rewards for whoever finds Jeff. Three residents paraglided over the city to search from above. Another resident wrote a song for Jeff, which has gone viral. Residents are beginning to don T-shirts to spread awareness and carry bread and bananas in case they see him.

Hattiesburg Zoo animal care manager Stephen Taylor told the newspaper Jeff is probably safe. Wallabies, he said, can survive in extreme temperatures and graze on grass and leaves.

TME – But the biggest mystery of all is: Who names a wallaby Jeff?

Extinction event

CANON CITY, Colo. - The co-owner of a dinosaur-themed park in southern Colorado thinks an electrical malfunction caused a life-size animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex to burst into flames.

Zach Reynolds says the T-Rex at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience smoldered for about 10 minutes before it caught fire Thursday morning. Visitors watched as the inferno spread through the dinosaur, which appeared at times to be breathing flames.

Reynolds joked, “We knew he had a temper, but today he blew his top.”

The 24-foot-tall (7-meter-tall) T-Rex, which moved and made sounds, was one of 16 dinosaurs that line the park’s Wild Walk exhibit. Reynolds says it was a total loss but at least “it made for some spectacular imagery along the way.”

He hopes to have a replacement T-Rex installed by the summer.

TME – This is about as metal as it gets.

Phil a phelon?

STROUDSBURG, Pa. - Punxsutawney Phil is a wanted ... groundhog.

A Pennsylvania sheriff’s officer has put up a wanted poster for Phil.

The handlers of the groundhog last month said the furry rodent called for six more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says that expired last week, yet a spring storm brought more snow to the Northeast on Wednesday and Thursday.

Cpl. Scott Martin tells WBRE-TV he created the poster and placed it on the “wanted wall” because he is sick of snow in the spring.

The poster claims Phil is wanted for deception. Phil is described as having “brown and grey hair, brown eyes, sharp teeth.”

Records dating to 1887 show Phil has predicted more winter 103 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times.

TME – Let’s hope he skates on the insurance fraud charges.

Doggie derring-do

OKATIE, S.C. - A dog has saved a man whose boat capsized in a South Carolina river.

The Island Packet of Hilton Head Island reports it was pure luck that Woody was outside Wednesday when 24-year-old Mason Ringer was struggling in the Okatie River. The 7-year-old yellow Labrador retriever jumped into the choppy, 58-degree water and pulled Ringer toward a nearby dock.

A Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report says Ringer was one of three men who survived after the boat overturned.

Ringer and his two co-workers had gone in the boat during their lunch break from refurbishing a dock. One man managed to swim and get out of the river, the other was pulled out by a private community’s staff.

Ringer says he owes Woody a big steak after the “miracle.”

TME – Woody: 13/10 – would let rescue.

Fight of the living dead

BUCHAREST, Romania - Days after one Romanian court told a man he was officially dead despite evidence to the contrary, another court has declared that a man who was truly dead could get his driving license back.

A court in the northern city of Iasi on Thursday confirmed that Valerian Vasiliu should have his license returned and be reimbursed a fine he paid for speeding. Vasiliu was fined and temporarily lost his license in March 2017, but appealed the punishment in court and won an interim ruling.

He died in October, before the ruling was final. Police still appealed, but this month lost their appeal.

Local lawyer Gianina Porosnicu, a traffic law specialist, told the Mediafax agency that “cases like this may seem odd or even sinister,” and blamed “a legal void.”

In an almost opposite situation last week, a Romanian man who had been officially declared dead lost his bid to have his death certificate canceled.

Constantin Reliu, a 63-year-old cook, returned from Turkey in January and found out that his wife had declared him dead. Reliu tried to get his death certificate overturned in court, but his appeal was rejected because his request was filed “too late.”

TME – Zombie movies sure have gotten dull.

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