The Odd Truth, April 18, 2003

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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.

Holy Colon!

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A 40-foot-long replica of the human colon is winding its way through Little Rock to educate people on the dangers of colon cancer.

The "Colossal Colon" is designed for children and adults to crawl through, and allows visitors to see different stages of the disease, from polyps to full-blown cancer.

Part of the National Cancer Education Tour, the exhibit was created in honor of Amanda Sherwood Roberts, who died from the disease last year.

Organizers hope that the exhibit will get people thinking about a part of the body that is usually not discussed.

"We're trying to educate as many people as we can so nobody has to go through what we had to go through," said Amanda's father, Bernie Sherwood.

Bird Survives 6 Days Trapped In Car Bumper

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A 20-inch bird that survived a six-day, 850-mile road trip in the hollow of a minivan bumper has a new name and a new home.

The odyssey of the white Florida egret began last week near Orlando, Fla., when Doug Marsico and his wife were taking their 3-year-old son to Disney World. Their minivan hit the flying egret, sucking it beneath the bumper.

"We heard a thud, then saw feathers flying," Marsico said. "I thought we killed it."

Harry Clark, Marsico's father-in-law, was the first to hear a noise under the front bumper when the family returned to their Mechanicsburg home.

When he heard the noise again Wednesday, he crawled under the minivan, where he saw feathers and a wing.

The bird eventually made enough noise that Marsico took his minivan to a body shop where employee Butch Lockey removed the hungry, irritable bird.

The egret, which has a 4-inch yellow beak and a buff orange crest, breast and shoulders, suffered a broken leg during the ordeal. The bird was placed with the Dauphin County Wildlife Rescue to recuperate.

Don't Even Think About It

WHITESTOWN, N.Y. - Peeing in a coffee pot could cost millions. Eight people are suing for $600,000 apiece, in the case of a PO'd office worker who peed in the pot. Holly Jones has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of creating a criminal nuisance. State police say a hidden camera caught Jones urinating in the coffee at Robinson Aviation in upstate New York. Now, her co-workers are suing Jones and their employer. The suit charges the coffee-drinkers were made sick by the contaminated java. The court action also claims the company should have done more to protect its employees. According to police, Jones was angry about being passed over for a promotion.

Jesus Vegetarian Ad Inaccurate, Says Rabbi

PENSACOLA, Fla. - A billboard in Pensacola, Florida, that promotes vegetarianism by claiming "Jesus was the prince of peas" has drawn the ire of both Christian and Jewish clergy.

The clergy say that depiction of Jesus is both historically inaccurate and sacrilegious.

The billboard includes a picture of Jesus with an orange slice in place of a halo and was erected by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to coincide with Passover and Easter.

PETA's Bruce Friedrich says the campaign is meant to provoke the thought that if people are eating meat, they are promoting cruelty to animals.

But Rabbi David Ostrich of Temple Beth-el says historical evidence indicates that Jesus, like other Jews of the time, was a meat eater. He says a ritual part of the Passover meal was a lamb slaughtered in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Mistrial Declared After Juror Falls Asleep

CINCINNATI - A judge declared a mistrial after a juror fell asleep during the trial of a man facing cocaine charges.

"You have a right to 12 jurors who are awake," Judge Robert Ruehlman of Common Pleas Court told James Toran, 27.

At the request of the defense, Ruehlman dismissed the jurors Tuesday and scheduled a new trial for June 5. Toran could be sentenced up to 21 years in prison if convicted of all charges, including cocaine possession and trafficking.

The prosecution and defense had completed opening statements and a prosecution witness had testified before there was a break in the trial. A high school student attending the trial with his class asked the judge about the sleeping juror, who had been obscured from the judge's view by another juror in the front row.

Toran was a passenger in a car pulled over by police last year. He jumped out and began shedding clothes and bags of cocaine, authorities allege. Police found $4,900, ammunition shell casings, a scale and drugs in the car.

Seeing Is Believing

SCOTIA, N.Y. - When Benedict "Bennie" Barta told his mother that he had won $5 million in the state's instant lottery, she told him to go rake the lawn.

"She didn't believe me, even after I showed her the confirmation from Lottery officials," the 47-year-old man said.

Now, Barta won't have to rake another lawn, unless he wants to.

As the winner of Lottery's $10 Instant Game on Sunday, Barta will receive $165,000 a year for life, lottery officials said.

"It still hasn't sunk in yet," he said on Wednesday.

Other than speaking with a lawyer and an accountant, he said his life hasn't changed too much.

He plans to pay off his bills and those of his loved ones. He'll also take care of his elderly mother, whom he visits twice a day.

Barta plans an early retirement from his job of the last 25 years as a heavy equipment operator for the town of Glenville's highway department.

Turtle Prompts Coast Guard Search

NEW YORK - The Coast Guard says it launched an air and sea search in the Atlantic — all because of a turtle.

It started when Coast Guard monitors picked up an emergency signal about 470 miles northwest of Bermuda.

The Coast Guard sent a plane from North Carolina and asked ships in the area to look out for any vessels in distress.

The plane eventually pinpointed the beacon. A nearby Norwegian tugboat was sent to investigate.

What the tug found was a turtle. The crew pulled it out of the water and found it was caught in a rope with the beacon.

No one knows how the turtle got hold of the beacon, which can be activated by a jolt or by movement in water.

The device was registered to a man who says he lost it some time ago.

Trampoline Comes In Handy

RED LION, Penn. - His house was on fire — and he was standing at a third-story window. So, that trampoline in the back yard came in handy.

Witnesses say a 17-year-old escaped a smoke-filled house this morning by jumping from the window onto the trampoline.

James Smith of Red Lion, Pennsylvania says he landed so hard, he broke some fingers.

His grandmother and his sister, meanwhile, were saved by two truck drivers who were passing by.

Firefighters contained the blaze to one room, and put the fire out in ten minutes.