Mad Minute

UXBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Fire officials say they are amazed that a driver wasn’t seriously hurt when his vehicle slid under a tractor-trailer in Massachusetts.

Authorities say the car was on Route 146 in Uxbridge on Tuesday when it hit something in the road and went airborne. The brakes didn’t work, and the car crossed a grassy area onto a highway ramp where it became wedged under the truck.

The car was then dragged “a good distance.” The roof was crushed.

Fire officials say the motorist climbed out of the driver’s side door.

The 61-year-old driver was Ricki Artruc, of Southbridge. He tells NBC Boston he’s “just glad to be alive.”

The Uxbridge Fire Department posted on Facebook that Artruc was taken to the hospital and is recovering from minor injuries.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Two little blue penguins just couldn't stay away from a New Zealand sushi store, returning to nest there even after police had captured them and escorted them back to the ocean.

Wellington police described them as "waddling vagrants," while the store's co-owner joked he had no idea that word of his tasty raw fish had reached as far as the subaquatic community.

But Jack Mace, an operations manager for the Department of Conservation, said the birds would have simply thought they had found a snug burrow underneath the store and wouldn't have taken note of what was being sold above them.

"They were within penguin commuting distance of the harbor, and they thought they'd found a nice spot," Mace said.

Police got the first call about a penguin loose in the city on Saturday night, after somebody reported spotting a grumpy bird under a parked car. Police said they managed to release it back into the ocean.

Then police starting taking more calls on Monday and found two penguins huddled under the Sushi Bi store near the capital's busy train station.

"The waddling vagrants were removed from their sushi stand refuge earlier today by Constable John Zhu," police wrote on their Facebook page. "Unsurprisingly, this was not the first report police had received about the fishy birds."

A pair of sneaky penguins were found hiding in a sushi shop near Wellington train station in New Zealand. (July 17)

And it turned out it wouldn't be the last.

Within hours, the two penguins were back underneath the shop.

Co-owner Long Lin said he was tidying up the storage room when he heard a sound from near the water tank. He walked outside and peered underneath the store and thought he was looking at a pigeon.

"And then I was like, 'Oh my God, it's a penguin," he said. "I was panicked. I didn't know what to do."

He called authorities, but meanwhile the penguins waddled out. So he grabbed them one by one and put them inside the store. He said the second penguin pecked at him several times, leaving red welts on his chest.

"It was a bit wild," he said.

Inside the store, the birds strutted about seemingly without a care, to the amazement of worker Shawnee Kim.

"Really cute," she said.

Kim said she tried offering them some fresh salmon, but they didn't seem interested.

Mace said rangers managed to extract the birds from under the store's freezer and put them in a special nesting box on the harbor, which is about a 200-meter (660-foot) waddle from the store.

Mace said the penguins haven't been seen since and may be out at sea.

He said the population of little blue penguins has rebounded in Wellington thanks to the efforts of people who have removed predators from three islands in the harbor and have helped with other conservation efforts, like building artificial nest boxes.

Little blue penguins typically start looking for nesting spots in July and start laying eggs in August.


SANTA YNEZ, Calif. (AP) — A 250-pound tortoise that wandered away from its home has been rescued after California Highway Patrol officers found it on the side of a road.

And no, they didn't arrest it for speeding.

The highway patrol says it got a call about the big reptile Sunday evening. It was spotted on the shoulder of a road in Santa Ynez, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

Santa Ynez Animal Rescue picked up the tortoise before CHP officers arrived. The CHP located the owners, put the tortoise in the patrol car and delivered it to them about two hours later.


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Officials in West Palm Beach are hoping a continuous loop of children's songs played throughout the night will keep homeless people from sleeping on the patio of a city-owned rental banquet facility.

West Palm Beach parks and recreation director Leah Rockwell tells the Palm Beach Post they're trying to discourage people from sleeping outside the glass-walled Waterfront Lake Pavilion, which she says rakes in some $240,000 annually from events.

The loop of "Baby Shark" and "Raining Tacos" is a temporary fix to keep homeless people off the patio. Rockwell says the city wants to formalize hours for the facility, which should make trespassing laws easier to enforce.

Illaya Champion tells the Post "it's wrong" to chase people away with music. He says he'll still sleep there, but "it's on and on, the same songs."


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian police say they've shut down a clandestine factory that was producing fake Ferraris and sham Lamborghinis.

A father and son who owned the workshop in the southern state of Santa Catarina have been arrested on industrial property charges.

Police said the cars were being offered on social media for $45,000 to $60,000 — a small fraction of the price of the real thing.

Officials didn't say what sort of parts were used to build the vehicles, but they distributed photos showing sleek bodies, as well as badges and accessories emblazoned with the Italian brands.

Monday's raid followed a complaint by the Italian companies.

Eight partially finished vehicles were seized in the raid, and police said they are investigating how many were made.


ROME (AP) — A brown bear in Italy has eluded capture for a third day, following its escape from an electrified enclosure in a forested Alpine region. Appeals mounted urging authorities not to shoot it.

It's not clear how the bear got past an electrified fence, then scaled a nearly 4-meter (13-foot) high barrier. Days earlier, the bear had been captured by forest rangers after attacks on livestock.

Environment Minister Sergio Costa tweeted "Don't shoot." He wants to avoid a replay of the 2014 death of a bear caused by a tranquilizer dart after the animal had attacked a mushroom hunter in the same region.

Elsewhere on Twitter, some on Wednesday rooted for the bear.

The bear triggered sensor photos on Tuesday, showing it was not far from the Casteller di Trento Center where it had escaped.


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A fisherman said on Wednesday he was looking for the author of a message in a bottle found off the southern Australian coast 50 years after it was written.

Paul Elliot told Australian Broadcasting Corp. that he and his son Jyah found the bottle on the west coast of Eyre Peninsula in South Australia state while fishing.

Elliot said he was looking for the author Paul Gibson, who described himself in the note as a 13-year-old English boy traveling in a cruise ship along the southern Australian coast from Fremantle in the west to Melbourne in the east.

Government oceanographer David Griffin said the bottle could not have remained afloat for 50 years off the south coast because "the ocean never stays still."

Griffin suspected that the bottle had been buried on a beach for years then refloated by a storm.

"If it had been dropped in anywhere in the ocean somewhere south of Australia, then there's no way it's going to stay actually at sea moving around for more than a year or two," Griffin said.

The author gave his position as "1000 miles east of Fremantle." However it is not clear whether the author actually meant 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) out of Fremantle, which would have included a journey south along the west coast before turning east.

Hundreds of thousands of Britons migrated to Australia in the 1960s with the Australian government subsidizing their fares. Children traveled for free.

But a quarter of them returned to Britain within a few years when life in Australia fell short of their expectations.


A hamlet on Switzerland's Italian border could offer the deal of a lifetime for house flippers — it's considering selling nine houses for just one Swiss franc each.

By offloading the broken-down stone dwellings and their properties for little more than a dollar, Monti Scìaga, which sits about 70 miles north of Milan and 125 miles south of Zurich, hopes to bring people back to the rustic municipality, The Local Switzerland reports.

The catch is that prospective buyers would be required to renovate the properties to bring them up to code.

"Scìaga is located on the left side of the upper Val Veddasca, a small hill in Indemini," the online plan says in Italian. "It is a mountain nucleus almost completely abandoned since the 1970s, but has maintained its original structure with traditional architectural elements. Many buildings are now in ruins, but in spite of this, it's a charming village worthy of protection."

Despite the extra work the one-franc properties might require, the hamlet provides scenic views of the surrounding landscape and the local Lake Maggiore, according to The Local. There's also running water in Monti Scìaga, a possible selling point for those looking to enjoy the rural Swiss countryside without sacrificing modern comforts.

The local government is interested in selling nine other properties at the same extreme discount while building a hut that could draw in bikers and hikers to the area, according to The Local.


An Enfield, Connecticut, man got quite the surprise Thursday when a boa constrictor curled up under his car engine. The East Windsor Police Department posted the gripping video on its Facebook page.

In an exclusive interview, Maurice LaRosa said he was visiting his aunt on Winton Road in East Windsor when 7-year-old Ela Ortak spotted the 6-foot long reptile feasting on a rabbit.

"I was just looking out the window and then I saw a snake...and I didn't know a boa constrictor lived out here," said Ortak.

LaRosa said they called East Windsor Police and with the help of two officers, he was able to wrestle the snake out with his bare hands.

"Towards the end of it, you could tell he was getting a little aggravated and he did try to strike once," LaRosa said.

While the plan was to take the snake to a wildlife center, a neighbor, who has two ball pythons, volunteered to care for it.

"You would never really think that something like that would be running around East Windsor. They didn't really know what to do with them, so yeah I'll take him," said Vincent Braxton.

Braxton said while the snake was a bit aggressive at first, it has since calmed down. He said he hopes the owner comes forward.

"I have no problem holding onto it for the rest of its life. That's fine. If someone is looking for it, and it did get out by accident, I'd be happy to return him."

Meanwhile, LaRosa said besides the adrenaline rush, he is relieved they all made it through the heart-racing ordeal OK.

Community members in Orem, Utah are in shock after a freak golfing accident killed a little girl. Investigators say 6-year-old Aria Hill was sitting in a golf cart next to a tee box when her father hit a ball that struck her in the back of the head.(Published Wednesday, July 17, 2019)

"I was glad we were able to remove him without hurting him," LaRosa said. "That was the last thing I wanted to do."


BRIGHAM CITY, Utah – A young boy in Utah found a good way to get some business, even after neighbors called the police on him.

The Brigham City Police Department posted a photo of the boy and his drink stand on Facebook.

The post states:

"This young man, in the area of 600 South 200 East, has a twist on a lemonade stand. Yep, he's selling beer … ROOT BEER, that is. His marketing strategy has resulted in several calls to the BCPD, but apparently its paid off as business has been good."