Mason County News
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009 • Posted October 21, 2009

This past week the world breathed a collective sigh of relief when it learned that Falcon Heene, the 6-year-old boy believed to have been aboard a saucer-shaped helium balloon floating around over Colorado had, in fact, only been abducted by aliens. The bad news is that the world has chronic halitosis.

But that odiferous sigh was nothing compared to the sharp intake of breath the world sharply intook when it learned that the boy’s parents orchestrated the entire event to publicize their upcoming docudrama – ‘Aliens in Colorado.’ Which is not really news.

But that sharp intake of breath was nothing compared to the hyperventilation experienced by a woman in Australia when she looked around and noticed that her baby stroller, containing her 6-month-old son, had rolled into the path of an oncoming train. The train pushed the stroller 130 feet along the tracks and, according to one official, “dented in the side and scratched the paint a little, and messed up the bearings in the stroller wheels some. That lady’s going to need a new stroller for sure, mate.” The baby, incidentally, was fine except for some slight bruising and being desperately in need of a change.

But that hyperventilation was not so impressive compared to the surprise Douglas Struder got when he was hit by a ramrod fired from a Civil War cannon. Struder and his wife, who live in Kentucky, were visiting Fort William Henry at Lake George, New York, for their 31st wedding anniversary. They were eating lunch near the southern shore of the lake when the fort’s replica cannon was fired (they shoot it every hour, whether there are indians around or not). The ramrod supposedly was blown in front of the muzzle by wind as the cannon fired, and traveled over 100 yards before it hit Struder, breaking his leg.

Police and an ambulance crew were called to attend to Struder. A fort employee, dressed in an 18th century British soldier’s uniform, also showed up. Struder commented that it seemed like a long time to hold a grudge. But then, the Brits still have an official whose job it is to watch out for the approach of Napoleon Bonaparte.

So, lately, flying things seem to be going places they aren’t supposed to. Which brings us to Daniel McGregor, who was flying a Cessna 185 in Alaska recently and crashed into the side of a mountain. McGregor survived the crash with severe burns to his hands and face, but his passenger, noted wolf biologist Gordon Haber, was killed. The crash occurred in a fairly remote area in Denali National Park.

There is nothing funny about this story. It is a tragedy by any standard, although plane crashes are more common in Alaska than in most places. With very few roads, most travel in Alaska is done by air.

What is impressive about this incident is that McGregor, after the crash, walked 20 miles over rough terrain to get help. That would be noteworthy under any circumstances, but after a plane crash, with severe burns, in country full of protected wolves, bears, and other carnivorous wild things, it’s almost amazing.

On the lighter side, there was the MSN article headline that, as headlines go, pretty much topped the list of bizarre headlines. It said, “Man who stabbed ex’s fish gets probation.” That’s one of the best headlines I’ve ever seen.

The story, which occurred in Oregon, is even better. The perpetrator, one Donald Earl Fite III, who looks like Buddy Holly, went to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment in an attempt at reconciliation. The girlfriend, one Sarah Harris, declined, probably on the grounds that she did NOT want to end up being the mother of someone named Donald Earl Fite IV. Which is entirely understandable, and would likely be grounds, in most states, for shooting DEF III. Which brings up the obvious point that, if this guy is ever convicted of anything serious and goes to prison, he will be DEF CON 3.

Anyway, Fite tried to keep Harris from leaving but she got away, and returned with a police officer. Fite was no longer at the apartment, but they found Harris’s fish, a beta named DeLorean, stuck to the wood floor with a knife. Fite had given Harris the fish, and he was later quoted as saying, “If she can’t have me, then she can’t have the fish.”

Fite’s attorney said he was quite remorseful about killing DeLorean, and that it was a ‘very low point’ in his client’s life. It was also very traumatic for Harris, who loved DeLorean. She plans to get a memorial tattoo of him, and asked the judge to force Fite to pay for it. The judge declined. He told Fite to stay away from Harris, but said he could have contact with the fish. Really.

It looks to me like the docudrama should have been called ‘Aliens in Oregon’ . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who has never named a fish. Well, almost never. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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