Lead Story

Rhonda Jean Merryman, 33, wound up in intensive care at a hospital in Inola, Oklahoma, in April after being thrown from a garbage truck one night. The truck was going 30 miles an hour; she was thrown as she was attempting to simultaneously drive and fix the truck’s headlights. She had one foot on the gas pedal and the other on the running board, bracing herself as she reached in front of the windshield to tug on the electrical wires running to the headlights.


In March two teenage boys being driven to juvenile court by police officers in Reading, Pennsylvania, escaped when the car stopped for a light. But the boys were handcuffed together and failed to communicate as they approached a flagpole. One went left, one went right, and they collided, stunning themselves momentarily. Two nearby fire fighters held them down until the police could catch up.

A patient referred to as “Andre L.” sued a Montreal hospital in March because his buttocks had caught fire. He claimed that while he was undergoing surgery to remove growths, the sterilizing alcohol was ignited by a cauterizing instrument, causing second-degree burns.

A worker at the Coors brewing plant in Golden, Colorado, turned the wrong valve in May and sent at least 155,000 gallons of beer into the adjacent Clear Creek, killing 3,000 fish.

In the English soccer championship game in May (seen in Wembley Stadium by 80,000 people and on TV by 600 million people in 100 countries), the winning goal was scored in sudden-death overtime by Des Walker of the Nottingham Forest team, who headed the ball past his own goalie into his own net to give Tottenham the title.

In May in Ho Chi Minh City, about 50 people crowded onto a rickety bridge to peer at a girl who had jumped into the river below to commit suicide. The bridge collapsed, killing nine. The girl was rescued.

Won’t Take No for an Answer

From the classified section of the Albuquerque Journal, February 1, 1991: “Lost since March 1983, tortoise shell female cat, reward.”

According to New Orleans police, Gregory Doster, 28, was shot in April by an irate drug dealer after Doster declined to buy cocaine from him. Police said Doster had just purchased cocaine from another dealer when the second dealer jumped in Doster’s truck as he was driving away and pleaded with Doster to buy more before shooting him.

In May, Maxcy Dean Filer, 60, of Compton, California, finally passed the California bar exam. He graduated from law school in 1966 but had failed the exam in his previous 47 tries.

Bobbi Jo Shinsky, 14, who lost her part in a Uniontown, Pennsylvania, high school play in May because she lied about missing rehearsals, stood up in her audience seat on opening night and recited her lines anyway, competing for attention with her replacement. Security guards hustled her to the principal’s office, and she was suspended for three days.


The San Jose Mercury News reported recently that imprisoned rapist Jeff Fambord, 30, has been writing randomly selected women asking for money so that he can afford counseling. The letters include newspaper clippings on his criminal activities and are signed “Warmly, Jeff.” (Psychiatrists who have examined him say he has the potential to be a serial killer.)

Boxer Thomas Hearns recently hired as his chief financial adviser Harold Rossfield Smith, newly released from prison after serving five years for embezzling $21 million from the Wells Fargo Bank.

Last fall the Houston Lighting & Power Company requested a $40 million rate increase to cover anticipated fuel cost rises associated with the Persian Gulf war, but at the same time acknowledged it had recently overcharged consumers $53 million. The two amounts could not cancel each other out, said the company, because that would give “contradictory price signals and an unnecessary fluctuation in [consumers’] energy costs.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.