High-IQ mishaps: According to a September safety hearing, British brain surgeon Donald Campbell, 54, crashed his twin-engine plane into a house (he survived, with head injuries) when he ran out of fuel because he miscalculated when converting "gallons" to "liters." ... And internationally renowned neuroscientist Patricia Goldman-Rakic, 66, was fatally run over in August while jaywalking (and police said the driver was not at fault) in Hamden, Conn.
Compelling explanations: Ten days after Jonathon Russell killed three people and himself in a highly publicized workplace-rage incident in Jefferson City, Mo., in July, his mother, Nina Tichelkamp-Russell, filed a worker compensation claim on his behalf, seeking death benefits. Her version of the cause of death, according to what she wrote on the claim, was "by gunfire while on the company clock." (The employer and its insurance company rejected the claim.)
Demon babies: LaFayre Marie Banks, 32, was charged with assault and child abuse in Port Huron, Mich., in May after her 7-month-old baby fell from Banks' second-story bathroom window, suffering severe head injuries. Banks told a police officer that she was bathing the child when "it reared up and went through the window." ... And in Wetumpka, Ala., in August, Melissa Wright, 27, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for putting her 18-month-old daughter in a hot oven. Wright's version was that the child slipped from her arms, fell to the floor, and rolled into the oven, and then the door closed.
People different from us: Loren J. Adams, 40, was convicted in Indianapolis of distributing obscenity in May, based on a business venture that apparently emanated from his admitted interest in watching scenes of bestiality. Not only did Adams' website offer videos of people having sex with horses, snakes, etc., but Adams at one time offered to rent out his 3-year-old Great Dane, Tyson, for others' sex videos. (Tyson was removed from the home, and Adams still faces a civil charge of animal cruelty, according to a September report in the Indianapolis Star).
Undignified deaths: In September, a 29-year-old, 300-pound man was discovered dead (asphyxiation), stuck in a small bathroom window of his Paterson, N.J., home after apparently trying to climb in late at night when he realized he had forgotten his house key. ... And in Elgin, Ill., in October, a 36-year-old, 250-pound man (suspected of being a burglar) was discovered dead (asphyxiation) in a small kitchen window, discovered by a woman who had just gotten up to fix breakfast.
Girl trouble: In South Philadelphia, a 25-year-old man who'd apparently been indecently exposing himself to girls and women in the neighborhood for several weeks, tried it one time too many. He was chased by "20 to 30" girls from St. Maria Goretti High School, caught, roughed up and held for police.
Also, in the last month: In Portugal, Catholic priest Antonio Caetano apologized for hitting a parishioner on the head when she would not leave after her daughter was denied a place in Sunday school because she registered too late. ... Florida vegetable grower A. Duda & Sons introduced a product 15 years in the making, to delight Bloody Mary fans: celery stalks that are hollow in the center (Oviedo, Fla.).
(c) 2003 CHUCK SHEPHERD