The Odd Side – November 5, 2013

Tommy Lindsey holds a maple leaf that he found that is almost as big as he is in Mount Vernon, Wash. Tommy was walking with his family Sunday when he picked up the leaf that is more than two feet from stem to tip and more than 21 inches wide. (AP Photo/The Skagit Valley Herald, Frank Varga)
Tommy Lindsey holds a maple leaf that he found that is almost as big as he is in Mount Vernon, Wash. Tommy was walking with his family Sunday when he picked up the leaf that is more than two feet from stem to tip and more than 21 inches wide. (AP Photo/The Skagit Valley Herald, Frank Varga)

Alligator FoundUnder Escalator at Chicago Airport

CHICAGO (AP) – A small alligator found under an escalator at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has left authorities puzzled.

A maintenance worker discovered the alligator, which is about a foot long, in Terminal 3, said Chicago Police spokesman Jose Estrada.

An officer captured the reptile by putting a trash can over it.

“We don’t know where it came from or how long it’d been residing in the airport facilities,” Estrada said. “It’s one of those random incidents.”

The gator is now being cared for by the Chicago Herpetological Society.

“It was in pretty bad shape,” said Jason Hood, the group’s president. “We’re trying to get it healthy and find a place for it.”

He said the gator would likely head to an out-of-state alligator farm once authorities give the organization the all-clear to release the animal.

No one was injured.

State Police Warning of Central Pa. Jury Duty Scam

RIDGWAY, Pa. (AP) – What’s worse than jury duty? State police in one western Pennsylvania county say it might be a scam in which someone is trying to pry personal information out of people by telephoning to claim they’ve missed jury duty.

WJAC reports troopers from the Ridgway barrack say several Elk County residents have received the bogus calls.

Residents are being warned that they face fines if they refuse to verify their names, Social Security numbers and even their credit card numbers. Police believe the callers are hoping to use the information gathered in identity theft schemes.

Police say residents should just hang up if they get such a call. But anyone who has provided information to such a caller should contact their local police and closely monitor their credit report and card statements.

Washington Youngster Finds Giant Maple Leaf

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) – While playing in leaves, a 4-year-old Washington boy found a maple leaf almost as big as he is.

Tommy Lindsey of Mount Vernon was walking with his family when he picked up the leaf that is more than two feet from stem to tip and more than 21 inches wide.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports it’s a little wider but shorter than the record maple leaf listed in Guinness World Records.

Bears Break Into Car in Colorado, Tear Up Interior

GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) – A Colorado man who had some serious vandalism done to his car says he think he knows the culprits — a family of bears that has been roaming his neighborhood.

Bob Monzel of rural Jefferson County says he believes a mother bear and her cubs entered his Honda Element sometime and went on a rampage while trying to get out.

KMGH reports the bears clawed the car doors, smashed the plastic dashboard, and left electrical wires dangling from the ceiling. Yellow insulation is all that’s left of the seat cushions.

There was no food inside, but Monzel’s family did leave a package of gum and mints in the vehicle after washing it over the weekend.

Monzel says he was “floored” by the damage. The car is insured.

City: Odor From Sriracha Chili Plant a Nuisance

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The maker of Sriracha hot sauce is under fire for allegedly fouling the air around its Southern California factory.

The city of Irwindale filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday asking a judge to stop production at the Huy Fong Foods factory, claiming the chili odor emanating from the plant is a public nuisance.

City officials say residents have been complaining of burning eyes, irritated throats and headaches and that some people have had to leave their house to escape the smell.

One family was forced to move a birthday party indoors after the strong smell overwhelmed the festivity, Irwindale City Attorney Fred Galante told the Los Angeles Times.

Huy Fong initially cooperated with the city, but talks broke down last week after company representatives denied there was an odor problem, saying their employees worked in similar olfactory settings without complaint, Galante said.

The city, about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, is seeking temporary closure of the factory until Huy Fong submits a plan to minimize the smell.

“If they fix it and the odor problems stop, we don’t need this order; but so far the odor complaints continue,” Galante said.

An after-hours call to the company was not immediately returned.

The company had operated out of two buildings in nearby Rosemead since the late 1980s until it opened large factory in Irwindale this year.

Student Wedged Between New York Buildings for up to Two Days Is Freed

(Reuters) – A college student reported missing by friends was recovering on Monday after being pulled from a narrow space between two buildings in New York City, where he had been trapped for up to two days, fire officials said.

Asher Vongtau, 19, an undergraduate at New York University, was found conscious and moaning Sunday afternoon after somehow becoming wedged in a crevice between a five-story parking garage and a 17-story dormitory building in Lower Manhattan, university officials said.

It took firefighters 90 minutes to extract Vongtau from an approximately 18-inch-wide gap between the buildings. Crews had to drill through a cinderblock wall to get to him, according to a spokesman with the New York City Fire Department.

He was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition, the spokesman said. On Monday, his condition was reported to be serious.

The only way into the gap appeared to be from the roofs of the buildings.

“The circumstances of how the student came to be in this space are unclear to us,” John Beckman, vice president for Public Affairs at NYU, said in a statement.

Vongtau was not a resident of the building where he was discovered, Beckman said. He declined to confirm local media reports that the student was from Nigeria.

Vongtau’s friends had first reported him missing on Saturday and campus police were able to narrow down his whereabouts by tracing where he had used his electronic ID card for entry.

While searching the dormitory, a public safety officer found some of Vongtau’s possessions and then discovered him stuck and groaning in the crevice.

It was not yet known how long he had been wedged in the space.