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The Odd Truth, Nov. 20, 2002

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Cocaine Console

ARTESIA, N.M. — A man who was trying to fix a car he bought at a police auction discovered more than he paid for — bundles of cocaine.

The man notified the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force on Nov. 12 that he found packages of drugs under the vehicle's console when he started to repair the emergency brake.

The packages contained about 9.7 pounds of cocaine, authorities said.

The man, whose name was not released, bought the 1992 car in Las Cruces earlier this month. He knew from auction information that the vehicle had been seized by the Las Cruces-Dona Ana County Metro Narcotics Agency in June 2001 and had been forfeited.

Kiss Of The Rattlesnake

YACOLT, Wash. — A man who was showing off for friends by kissing his new rattlesnake was bitten on the lip and nearly died.

Matt George, 21, was hospitalized in critical condition after the incident Sunday. By Tuesday, his condition had been upgraded to serious.

George was showing friends the snake he had caught on a recent trip to Arizona. Holding the 2-foot snake behind the head, he kissed it.

"I said, `OK, man, you're being stupid, put it away,'" recalled Jim Roban. "He said, `It's OK, I do it all the time."'

After the second kiss, the snake bit him under his mustache. He dropped the snake on the kitchen floor, and Roban killed it with his cowboy boot.

As they waited for an ambulance to arrive at George's home, his face began to swell.

"He said, `I'm going to die,'" Roban said. "I said, `No, you're not going to die, just calm down and relax.'"

Sheriff's Deputy Steven Johnson said he watched in the ambulance as George became limp and his eyes rolled back in his head. After George lost consciousness, he was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Portland, Ore.

Old Man Shoots Deer, But Really It's A Horse

MINNEAPOLIS - An 89-year-old deer hunter was charged with shooting a white horse while it was being ridden by a 12-year-old girl.

Clinton Hurlbut told authorities he thought he had seen a deer.

Authorities said he fired the shotgun slug from his property, about 200 yards from where Lindsey Duffield was riding her horse, Princess. The slug narrowly missed the girl's leg and struck the horse in the shoulder.

Hurlbut was charged with misdemeanor reckless use of a firearm, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Traverse County Sheriff Don Montonye said Hurlbut feels terrible about the Nov. 9 shooting. "He's taking it real hard," Montonye said.

The girl was riding on her grandfather's farm on the outskirts of Browns Valley, a town of 800 near the South Dakota state line.

Lindsey's mother, Candy Duffield, said Hurlbut apologized. "He just sat and cried the whole time," Duffield said.

Princess was recovering but might not be able to be ridden again.

Instant Karma

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A mugger found that turnabout is fair play.

After knocking down a woman in a supermarket parking lot and stealing her purse, he was chased down by a man who pushed him to the ground and snatched the purse back.

Martin Luik, 24, said he heard the woman's shouts for help, jumped on his bicycle and easily caught the fleeing robber.

The woman, Cheryl Kernan, 55, called Luik her hero.

"The attacker stole my purse, threw me on the ground. And then this young kid comes from nowhere with my purse," Kernan said. "I had everything in my life in that purse, all my ID, all my keys to my business and my home."

Luik, who moved to the United States four years ago, said he learned how to handle himself growing up on the streets of Moscow. He would not accept a reward, so Kernan invited him to her home for Thanksgiving dinner.

Fort Lauderdale police spokesman Mike Reed said thefts like the one Kernan experienced tend to become more common around holiday times.

"The criminals know where to look for their victims — the malls around Christmas time and large grocery stores around Thanksgiving," Reed said. "People need to be careful. Don't carry large amounts of cash."

The mugger was able to jump into a waiting car and get away.

A Fare To Remember

BURLINGTON, Wash. - A Washington state woman got her ride all right, but not in a taxi. The woman mistook a cop for a cabbie. Authorities in Burlington say the woman hailed a car outside her home, thinking it was a taxi. But it was a sheriff's cruiser. The deputy was in the process of confirming a warrant for the woman's arrest when she walked up. One detective says it doesn't get any better than that for a patrolman. She got a free ride -- to jail.

Will They Name The Baby Joe?

TILLSONBURG, Ontario - Call it java with junior. A couple stopped at a coffee shop in Tillsonburg, Ontario, and left with a new baby. Dad, Sean Parker, admits it was his fault. He says he's a procrastinator. Parker wanted a cup of coffee on the way to the hospital and his wife needed to use the restroom. Parker was outside smoking a cigarette, waiting for his wife Sara and getting a little worried. He asked an employee to check on her. Mrs. Parker was in the final stages of labor and had her baby right there. Doctors say mom, dad and baby Maia are doing fine. They all went home after spending a night in the hospital. The folks at the coffee shop have given the Parkers flowers, gift certificates and an invitation to come back.

Singapore Loosens Chewing Gum Ban

SINGAPORE - As part of a landmark trade deal with the United States, tightly controlled Singapore has agreed to loosen its 10-year ban on chewing gum and allow those who need it to chew it — as long as they have a prescription.

Singapore's chief negotiator Tommy Koh said Wednesday that, as part of the free trade deal, "sugarless gum prescribed by doctors and dentists as having therapeutic and medicinal benefits will be sold in pharmacies."

Tightly controlled Singapore outlawed the import, manufacture and sale of chewing gum in 1992, arguing that discarded lumps of gum were hard to clean from its tidy streets, and that gum stuck in subway doors had delayed trains.

Some locals welcomed any relaxation of the ban, but said the latest compromise wouldn't go far enough.

"It's a small step towards a good change," said 37-year-old Toru Umatani, a fund manager and a smoker. "I think this country is a little strict."

But negotiators here are proud of their compromise, which allows both the strict regulation of gum imports and what U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick called a "modest entry point" for U.S. gum manufacturers. Details of the amount to be allowed in have not been released.

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