The week's odd news column includes cats swimming to safety after a boat explosion, a Pennsylvania man claiming he dressed as a ninja to help police, a four-headed ear of corn and Detroit flubs up the date of elections on billboards. The video of the week is a Dallas teen's flamboyant bar mitzvah entrance that included being dropped from a white chandelier and performing with professional dancers.
Cats swim after boat explosion
PORTLAND, Ore. -- When the engine of their tuna boat exploded last week, owners Mark and Cynthia Schneider had no choice but to jump into the ocean and leave behind their two cats on the doomed vessel.
After being rescued by a nearby boat, they were stunned when they looked out at their sinking boat and saw one of the cats -- a tabby named Jasper -- on the bow. The other cat, a calico named Topaz, was in the ocean and eventually swam through the debris to safety on the rescue boat.
Jasper remained stranded at sea on the bow. As the boat sank deeper into the ocean, he was forced to jump in and swim toward his owners about 100 yards away. The cat made it to safety unharmed.
"They've got pretty good survival instincts," Mark Schneider said.
The 60-foot Sea Princess departed from Winchester Bay in late July and sank 80 miles off the coast on Aug. 5. The Schneiders, who have been fishing together for 27 years, lost their boat, $40,000 worth of tuna and most of their possessions. The story was first reported by KTVZ of Bend.
Mark Schneider, 52, said he checked the engine room about 45 minutes before the explosion and nothing seemed amiss. Then the engine backfired several times before a blast that tore off the side of the boat. The Schneiders suffered flash burns to their faces, but did not require hospitalization.
Not immediately realizing the extent of the damage, he headed to the engine room to assess the situation. When he looked over his shoulder, he saw ocean and sky where there should have been hull. Water started pouring in, and he and Cynthia knew it was time to abandon ship -- but not without Jasper and Topaz.
"I kept calling for the kitties and calling for the kitties, but I'm sure they were traumatized by the blast and didn't know what the heck was going on," Schneider said. "Cynthia finally snapped me out of that and said: `We gotta get off the boat. We gotta get off the boat. Get in your survival suit."'
Prowling Pa. ninja says he was trying to help cops
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- Everybody agrees that a 19-year-old Pennsylvania man dressed up as a ninja and lurked near homes, but they disagree whether that's a good idea -- or legal.
Todd Kapcsos, of Johnstown, was in court Wednesday to waive his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of loitering, prowling at night and disorderly conduct.
Police said Kapcsos frightened some elderly residents who saw him sneaking around while carrying a black baseball bat and wearing a hooded sweatshirt, another long shirt, a mask and a pair of gloves -- all of them black.
He contends he was just trying to help police catch bad guys.
"I dressed up in all black, sneaked around, went through bushes," Kapcsos told WJAC-TV (http://bit.ly/1daaYto). He claimed to be practicing "ninja moves" including rolling into a ball so he'd appear to be a rock hidden in the shadows.
"There's not enough police officers," he said. "The community should do something rather than sit back.
But one neighbor, Chris Trevino, told the TV station, "It looked more like he was trying to break into homes, not like he was gonna be a ninja and save the world."
That night, July 15, Trevino saw Kapcsos "running like a ninja, not like a normal person jogging. He was going back and forth creeping."
So she called the police.
"The ninja ran across the alley and right into the arms of a police officer," Trevino said.
Kapcsos was lurking in the Moxham section of Johnstown, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. Several high-profile crimes have occurred in the neighborhood in recent months, including three of the city's five homicides. The last one occurred Aug. 6 -- a stabbing at a car wash -- about three weeks after Kapcsos was arrested.
Farmer's corn crop yields 4-headed ear
HANOVER, Pa. -- When farmer Ben Klunk tells people about the mutant corn he found, they're all ears.
Klunk said he discovered an ear of sweet corn with four heads on his central Pennsylvania farm and has been keeping it in his refrigerator.
Klunk said that when he pulled the corn out of the crop he initially thought there was mud holding it together, but his wife said that wasn't the case.
"It started out as one," Marie Klunk said, "and then it split, and then another one split."
The farmer, who's 81, said he's never seen corn multiply in such a way: He'd never found a double- or triple-headed ear of corn, let alone a quadruple one.
"And I've pulled a lot of sweet corn!" he said.
The Klunks said they don't plan to eat the corn, which was pulled from their farmland in Hanover, 20 miles southwest of the state capital, Harrisburg, and was first reported by The Evening Sun newspaper. They said if it stays fresh for another 10 days they'll enter it into a contest at the South Mountain 4-H Fair.
But the Klunks aren't sure it'll last that long in the refrigerator and suspect it's already turning. If that happens, they said, they'll just throw the mutated husk away.
Billboards give wrong date for Detroit election
DETROIT -- Billboards promoting Detroit's upcoming general election offered up some erroneous information about when to go to the polls.
The Detroit Free Press reports (http://on.freep.com/14J4HEc) that many of the 14 billboards gave a September date for the election. The vote will actually take place Nov. 5.
City Clerk Janice Winfrey says the billboards were updated Saturday with information about the general election, and she calls the September date "a mistake" by the business that handles the billboards.
Winfrey says she noticed the error and was angry. Winfrey says she was told all the billboards would be fixed by Tuesday.
The November election includes races for Detroit mayor and city council.