The Odd Truth, April 6, 2004

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Brian Bernbaum.

Croc Hunter Saves Girl

CAIRNS, Australia - An ex-crocodile hunter explained on Tuesday how he wrestled an 11-foot croc to rescue an 11-year-old girl from its jaws.

On Monday, the saltwater crocodile snatched Hannah Thompson's arm as she swam with other children in Margaret Bay on the northern coast of the northeast Australian state of Queensland.

Ray Turner, 57, a professional crocodile hunter more than 30 years ago in the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea, said he dived from a boat onto the crocodile's back when he heard the children scream.

"I landed fair on its back and I got a finger in its left eye - I missed the right eye - but he got a fright and he let go," Turner said.

He added, "They will always let go when you go for an eye because it's their vulnerable point and their livelihood."

Turner said he hauled Hannah aboard his boat and took her to nearby Haggerstone Island where he runs a guesthouse with his wife, Anna.

She was evacuated by air to Thursday Island Hospital, north of the Queensland mainland, for treatment to deep puncture wounds in her lower arm. Her condition was reported as stable.

Turner said Hannah was incredibly brave and even managed to see a funny side to the attack.

"She made a joke about losing her watch," he said. "She said the alarm was set for five o'clock if you want to go after that crocodile."

Woman Guilty In Ring-Swallowing Caper

CLEARWATER, Fla. - A woman pleaded guilty to swallowing a 1.5-carat diamond ring at a jewelry store and will serve one year of probation.

Mary Denise Flowers, 38, swallowed the ring at Littman Jewelers in December. A surveillance camera caught the act.

The ring was later recovered in a jailhouse commode, and will be sent to Littman Jewelers' corporate headquarters in Oregon to be melted down.

Flowers, who did not have a previous criminal record, was also ordered Monday to pay fines and court costs totaling $1,090, court records state.

The judge withheld a formal finding of adjudication, meaning Flowers will have a clean record if she completes probation without violation.

Dynamite Mistaken For Sausage

SAN JUAN, Texas - It would have been one hot sausage. An elderly man tells authorities in Texas he nearly put a stick of dynamite on the stove, thinking it was a sausage. Police in San Juan report more than two-dozen sticks of dynamite have been found along roadsides. They have no idea where the dynamite came from or who's responsible for leaving it lying around. Officers say an elderly man found some of the sticks and took them to the police station. But he forgot one. According to officers, the man reached for a sausage and picked up a stick of dynamite instead. But police report there have been no injuries from the stray explosives.

And The 11th Commandment Is ...

LONDON - The first 10 commandments were written by the finger of God and handed to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The 11th commandment has been sent to the Methodist Church in Britain by text message from a pub.

The church announced the new commandment - "Thou shalt not worship false pop idols" - on Tuesday after holding a contest in the country's pubs that was aimed at sparking an ethical debate among young people.

The church, together with Christian web site shipoffools.com, left details of the competition on beer mats in pubs around the nation, inviting drinkers to text in suggestions for an 11th commandment.

"The idea was to get people, especially those in their 20s and 30s, thinking about the commandments and to prompt a debate about ethics," said Simon Jenkins, editor of shipoffools.com, who sifted through the 2,000 entries.

"By using beer mats, the Methodist Church hoped to connect with a group it doesn't usually reach and it was a brave and bold move.

"In fact, with most of the entries it was as if you could hear the clinking of glasses in the background."

The church, which drew some criticism when it joined with the cult religious web site for the competition, said it plans to publish a book of the best entries.

The top five submissions for a new commandment were rounded out by "Thou shalt not kill in the name of any God," "Thou shalt not confuse text with love," "Thou shalt not be negative" and "Thou shalt not consume thine own bodyweight in fudge."

Other suggestions included "Thou shalt not dance like your dad," "Thou shalt not dump your lover by text" and, aptly for the competition's setting and mode of entry, "Thou shalt not hold loud conversations on thy mobile phone in a public place."

Monks Get $26 Million Donation

ST. MEINRAD, Ind. - Monks in a monastery here may have a harder time with their vows of poverty now that they've got $26 million in spending money.

Two women rewarded the hospitality of the Benedictine monks at the St. Meinrad Archabbey by leaving them $13 million each in their wills, according to Archabbot Lambert Reilly.

"We would consider it an extreme blessing from God," Reilly said. "We would also see it as somehow proof that we do exercise what's supposed to typify us, and that is hospitality."

Both women - Bernice Davey, 90, and Virginia Basso, 91 - had spoken of contributing to the monastery northeast of Evansville. "For them, it was home," Reilly said.

The monastery, which houses about 120 monks, was founded 150 years ago and operates a theology school for men studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood, and lay ministry studies.

It also has a guesthouse where people can go for religious retreats. Some of the new cash will go toward building a new guesthouse.

"One of the things we are interested in providing is a more adequate guesthouse," Reilly said. "We are almost overrun with requests for people just to be with us."

Elderly Man Holds Blood-Donation Record

ST. LOUIS - Maurice Wood says he's going to give - until he can't give anymore. The 77-year-old Wood holds a pair of Guinness records for blood donations. He's been giving blood for 54 years, longer than anyone else in the world. Since 1950, the former federal railroad inspector has donated more than 37 gallons of blood - a pint at a time. Every two months, Wood goes to a South St. Louis County American Red Cross donation center. Last time, Wood didn't let an ice storm deter him. Wood tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he always liked the idea of helping to save someone's life.