The Odd Truth, Feb. 10, 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.

Massive Tequila Spill Prompts Fire Concerns

LOUISVILLE, KY. - More than 1,000 gallons of tequila spilled into the sewer system Monday after a worker tried to unload it from a truck into an already full storage tank at a distillery, officials said.

The tequila overflowed at a rate of 100 gallons per minute, resulting in 1,500 to 1,800 gallons entering the city sewer system, said Phil Lynch, a spokesman for the Brown-Forman Distillery.

Fire and sewer officials were called because of the flammability of the 80-proof liquor, he said. Water was used to dilute the spilled alcohol.

"It was a simple case of human error," Lynch said.

Uncommon Knowledge

TOKYO - He was slow, but smart.

An 82-year-old Japanese man who was too frail to jump out of the path of an oncoming train survived by flattening himself between the tracks while the train passed over him.

Police in the city of Fuji say the man was taking a short cut alongside the tracks to his home, when he heard a train coming up behind him.

They say his legs were too weak to get out of he way in time -- so he decided to hit the ground.

There was only 14 inches of space between the rails and the underbelly of the train -- and still he emerged unscathed.

Banana Bandit Sentenced

LYNCHBURG, Va. - A Lynchburg man who robbed a convenience store by pretending a banana was a gun was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Patrick Jason Mann, 29, entered the 7-Eleven store last July 4. He took a banana, put it in his pocket like a gun and demanded that the clerk give him money from the register. Mann left the store with about $10 and was arrested soon after leaving.

Before Mann robbed the 7-Eleven, he broke into another shop where he had worked for about three years and stole about $700.

His sentence imposed Friday included time for that burglary.

Mann said he had a crack cocaine addiction that was costing him up to $300 a day.

"There really wasn't much logic to what I did that night," Mann said. "When you're in the grip of that drug, it doesn't make you a very rational person."

Along with imposing the prison term, Circuit Judge J. Leyburn Mosby Jr. ordered Mann to pay back the money he stole, undergo 18 months of supervised probation and get substance abuse treatment.

Despite Police Statement, It Is Pretty Funny

SCRANTON, Penn. - Police in Scranton say it wasn't funny.

A suspicious package found at the federal courthouse Saturday turned out to contain pornographic material and a note to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The briefcase-size box was examined by the bomb squad, which decided to destroy it.

Sergeant Dave Benway says the note suggested the package was dangerous. He says he expects charges to be filed.

Last year, two partially nude statutes in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice were covered up. A Justice Department spokesman says it was done for aesthetic reasons, but there were reports that Ashcroft didn't like being photographed in front of them.

Burglar Nabbed Dozing On The Job

FORT WORTH, Texas — A burglary was bungled when the suspect was caught sleeping on the job.

A man was arrested Saturday morning when he was found taking a nap after breaking into a store owned by the wife of the county district attorney, police said.

"I think he was a pretty dumb burglar," employee Janie Sidener said. "Of all the places in town he has to break in to, he picks the DA's wife's shop."

Sidener had emptied the cash register after closing the store Friday night, leaving only some change, which was scattered around the shop when she returned for work, she said.

She noticed that someone had used the store's toilet without flushing and left a large black pistol on the bathroom counter. Then she heard someone snoring in a big bed that is part of a sales display.

Sidener said the man was irritated after being awaken by police, saying, "Hey, I was asleep!"

Thai Couple Sets 'Wife Holding' Record

PATTAYA, Thailand - Eight Thai husbands — clutching their wives as a groom holds his bride — sweated, shifted and felt their muscles turn to mush, but a ninth easily lasted nearly 11 hours to set what may prove a new world "wife holding" record.

As a Valentine's Day gimmick, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum staged a "Carry Your Lover" contest Saturday in this popular beachside resort.

Winning the $2,300 prize were Amnat Puttigo, at 176 pounds, the heaviest of the male contestants, and his 77-pound wife Chanantida Bunsamer, the lightest woman.

Looking like a pixie in the arms of a Goliath, the 24-year-old couple looked slightly bored by the chore, and decided to call it quits after 10 hours, 49 minutes and 15 seconds.

Organizers at the museum, a franchise of the U.S.-based Ripley's Believe It or Not! said the results will be sent to the Guinness World Records in London for approval as a record in a new "Holding Someone for the Longest Time" category.

Other contestants found the going rough, even 35-year-old Kunkron Konkarnot who had been in training for the event but threw in the towel after only 37 minutes.

"I was lifting weights three times a week, for three hours each day, but the most I lifted was 44 pounds," Kunkron said. His wife Niyanath, 34, weighs 97 pounds.

"I sweat too much," he said, still wearing his sopping wet T-shirt. "It became too slippery."

Somporn Naksuetrong, general manager of the museum, said a longest kissing contest had originally been considered.

"Thai culture doesn't accept kissing in public, so we changed it to a carrying-your-lover contest," he said.

Who Keeps A Ferret In A Cooler?

ST. LOUIS - An airline passenger who was told he couldn't take his ferret on an airplane is accused of beating the animal to death in an airport restroom.

Police said the man had the ferret in a cooler on an American Airlines flight from New York.

Flight attendants realized he had the animal and told him he could not take it on his next flight.

He's accused of trying to flush the ferret down a toilet during a layover in St. Louis, then beating it to death.

An airline spokeswoman says some pets are allowed on flights, with advance approval.

Hopped Up On Chicken Nachos

BOULDER CREEK, Calif. - There were more than jalapenos to give the nachos a kick. Police in Boulder Creek, California, charge two waiters were dealing drugs out of a Mexican restaurant. Gabriel Mendez and Magdaleno Mendez were arrested on suspicion of selling cocaine and marijuana. A Santa Cruz County sheriff's spokesman says customers looking for drugs sat in a certain section of the restaurant, then ordered chicken nachos. Money would be put in a napkin. Investigators say the pot was then wrapped in the napkin and returned to customers. The cocaine was allegedly given to customers in tea bags.