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The Odd Truth, Feb. 11. 2004

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.

Shark Attached!

SYDNEY, Australia - Lifeguards at a beach post north of Sydney couldn't believe their eyes when a man walked in with a small shark attached to his leg.

Luke Tresoglavic swam 1,000 feet to shore, walked to his car and drove to the local surf club with the 23 inch shark biting his leg and refusing to let go.

"I just realized I had to swim in like that, hanging on to it," Tresoglavic told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Wednesday.

Tresoglavic, 22, was snorkeling on a reef off Caves Beach near Newcastle on Tuesday when a wobbegong, or carpet shark, attacked his leg.

"Once I got on to shore, a couple of people tried to help me, but I could not remove it. It was stuck there, so I got up into my car and then drove to the clubhouse, and luckily the guys down there had a clue what to do."

A senior lifeguard at the clubhouse, Michael Jones, said he couldn't believe his eyes when Tresoglavic turned up - shark in tow.

"He basically asked the question: 'Can you help me get it off?' There's nothing in our procedure manual for that type of thing," Jones said.

The lifeguards flushed the shark's gills with fresh water, forcing it to loosen its grip on Tresoglavic's leg - with blood oozing from 70 needle-like punctures. The shark later died.

"He's lucky he didn't get into difficulties in the water trying to swim with that thing thrashing around," Jones said.

But he said Tresoglavic remained in good spirits throughout the ordeal. "There was a side of humor to it," he said.

Wobbegong sharks can grow up to nearly 10 feet in length, possess razor-sharp teeth, and are said to be moody and short-tempered.

Don't Mess With Mosquitoes

SINGAPORE - This tidy city-state's highest court has ruled a local man must pay a $3,550 fine for leaving a water-filled plastic pail lid outside, local media reported Wednesday.

Watering cans, buckets and other receptacles containing stagnant water are not supposed to be left standing in tropical Singapore to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever. The Aedes mosquito, which carries the illness, breeds in still water.

Chiam Heng Hsien was originally ordered by the Singapore Subordinate Court to pay $1,775 for the pail lid but he appealed the sentence, the Straits Times newspaper reported.

High Court Judge Yong Pung How ruled Tuesday that Chiam should have his fine doubled for his "recalcitrant attitude," the paper said.

Chiam had argued the pail lid was in direct sunlight and, to his knowledge, mosquitos could not breed in direct sunlight, the paper said.

This wealthy Southeast Asian nation uses heavy fines to enforce cleanliness as part of efforts to attract corporations and tourists. Spitting, littering or leaving a toilet unflushed here can garner a fine.

Dengue causes severe fevers and can lead to vomiting, nausea and body rash. The virus is often called bone breaker's disease because it causes severe pain in the joints. Some strains cause internal bleeding and death.

The government carefully monitors public areas, schools, markets and construction sites to eliminate pools of still water and often sprays residential areas to kill mosquitos.

Freewheelin' Fraudster

ERIE, Pa. - Kenneth Michael Green picked up a hitchhiker more than 20 years ago, but federal authorities say it was Green who got taken for a ride.

A federal grand jury indicted Leonard Shough on Tuesday on charges that he used Green's name and Social Security number since at least 1994 to obtain loans and receive Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Green, 55, a Vietnam veteran and former shipyard worker from Lumberton, N.C., said he gave Shough a ride in Florida more than 20 years ago, when he saw him standing by the side of a road with a tote bag. Green said he let Shough sleep on his motel room floor - then woke up to find everything in the room gone, except for his underwear.

Wrapping himself in a bed sheet, Green said he then went to the hotel lobby to notify authorities.

Green said his credit report is 19 pages long and he has paid in excess of $10,000 to sort things out.

It was not immediately clear if Shough has an attorney. He has been held under the name "Kenneth Michael Green" in the Erie County Prison since December on an unrelated bench warrant.

10-Year-Old Designated Driver

SURGOINSVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee mom is in trouble with the law - over her choice of a designated driver. Police charge Angela Michelle Brown was too drunk to drive, so her ten-year-old daughter was driving. Surgoinsville police officer Don Mitchell says he stopped the car because it appeared to have a young driver. He found the girl behind the wheel while the mother was lying on the front seat. Brown appeared in court Monday and was charged with child endangerment and driving under the influence. Police say her blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.

Blushing Bride, Weeping Widow

NICE, France - Dressed in a demure black suit, a 35-year-old Frenchwoman married her dead boyfriend Tuesday - a macabre exchange of vows that required authorization from the French president.

Under French law, Christelle Demichel became both bride and widow as a result of the ceremony, which was performed at Nice City Hall on the French Riviera.

The deceased groom, a former policeman identified as Eric, was not present at the ceremony. He was killed by a drunk driver in September 2002.

Demichel told LCI television she was fully aware that "it could seem shocking to marry someone who is dead," but said that her fiance's absence from her life had not dimmed her feelings for him.

According to French law, a marriage between a living person and a dead person can take place as long as preliminary civic formalities have been completed that show the couple had planned to marry. Before the ceremony can take place, it must be approved by the French president.

Mall Promises 'Bat Free' Shopping Experience

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Apparently store hours mean little to hundreds of bats that have flocked to an employee elevator at the back of a shopping mall near downtown.

Roughly 350 of the nocturnal mammals have been found so far, said Brian Berrios of Wildlife Solutions, which has been hired to capture the creepy creatures from the elevator's skylight at the Richland Mall.

Mall management has shut down the elevator to keep the bats from spreading to the mall's shopping area, asking employees of a call center inside the mall to use customer entrances.

"We take this very seriously and don't want anybody injured," said Richland Mall general manager Tim Russell. "If you encounter a bat, it's one too many. They do startle you."

The bats were first discovered a week ago, and Russell said the mall should be "bat free" by Wednesday.

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