A roundup of unusual news of the past week as reported by GateHouse newspapers.


 


I can’t believe it’s on fire!

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A semi truck loaded with butter caught fire in the southbound lanes of Interstate 55 about 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, creating a miles-long traffic jam.
 
The Pride Transport trailer and the butter it carried could not be salvaged. Pride Transport is a family-owned refrigerated carrier based in Salt Lake City.
 
All northbound lanes of I-55 were reopened by 8 p.m., according to Illinois State Police. Southbound traffic was being directed along the shoulder, with all southbound lanes reopening by about 11:30 p.m.
 
Police believe the truck’s brakes overheated, sparking the fire that destroyed nearly the entire trailer it was pulling. The cab itself also sustained extensive damage.
 
The truck driver, Randy Douglas, 53, was not cited, state police said.

Boy thwarts home invasion

QUINCY, Ill. -- The 12-year-old was just settling into the couch in the basement on Sunday morning, PlayStation controller in hand, when he heard the voices upstairs. A man’s voice demanded money. Then he heard shouting, then banging. Then nothing.

So he crept into his cousin’s room, borrowed her cell phone, and called the police.

When officers arrived, they found the boy’s mother, grandmother, and another relative tied up, terrorized, and robbed at gunpoint in the upstairs kitchen – and four suspects on the run.

Officers arrested four men, two fleeing from the house and two after the getaway car crashed attempting to flee.

“He’s really the hero of this,” Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating said of the boy. 

‘Dudes’ arrested after they refuse to leave bar

SOMERVILLE, Mass. -- Police arrested a pair of rowdy, beer-swigging men after they were kicked out of a bar and refused to leave.

It all started when Michael Vaughan, 24, took his Bud Light beer with him when he went to smoke a cigarette on the outdoor patio of the Good Time Emporium bar Friday. When bar staff told him alcohol was not allowed outside, the apparently intoxicated Vaughan said, “Dude, get real. I’ll do what I want,” according to police reports.

Vaughan was asked to leave the bar after he continued to mock the staff and called one man a Nazi.

“Yeah, right, dude. Like I might leave,” Vaughan said when he was banned from the bar.

When Officer James Slattery and Sgt. John Vozella warned Vaughan he would be arrested if he didn’t leave, Vaughan replied, “Dude, are you for real?”

Vaughan’s friend, 22-year-old Jason Tassinari, allegedly told police he would make Vaughan leave, but a short while later Vaughan allegedly tried to enter the entertainment complex again, according to police.

“Dude, I’m coming in. What are you going to do? Do you know who I am?” Vaughn told Vozella.

On the way to the police station, police said, Vaughan continued to make irrational statements, saying, “You don’t know what I am going to do to you.”

Town tries, fails to move beaver family

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- After receiving complaints about aggressive beaver behavior for the past month, Telluride decided to relocate the urban rodents to a ranch out in the country. But on Monday, the relocation effort went awry after a beaver kit was nowhere to be found, and for now, the beavers remain. The family consists of at least a mom, dad and baby.

There are more minor nuisances, like the proliferation of mosquitoes that thrive in the dammed-up water and the felling of trees. But what really has neighbors concerned is that the mama beaver has been acting aggressively toward dogs and people. She’s probably just trying to protect her kit, they say, but still.

Jim Van Diest, who lives in the Ballard House, said that since the female beaver gave birth, she has approached him and his dog, as well as his wife, in an aggressive way.

“If a wild animal is coming at you … to me, that’s aggressive,” he said.

The Van Diests have lived in their condo for 10 years, and they are used to beaver activity, he said. But this is the first time they have experienced this kind of behavior.

“They need to be relocated so the mother isn’t under these stresses and can raise her family in peace out in the country,” he said.

2 charged with embezzling to see Celine Dion, among other things

WOBURN, Mass. -- Two former Tufts University administrators face charges they stole nearly $1 million from the university in separate schemes, spending money on trips to Foxwoods Casino, Paris and Montreal, buying concert tickets to see Madonna and Celine Dion and charging high-end designer goods by Gucci, Tiffany and Co., and Louis Vuitton.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a press release that Josephine Nealley, director of Tufts' Office of Students Activities between 1996 and 2007, and Raymond Rodriguez, the budget and fiscal coordinator for the Office of Student Activities between 2001 and 2007, were indicted Tuesday.

Leone said Nealley had control over bank accounts associated with the Office of Student Activities and used one of these accounts to deposit student activity funds. She then would transfer that money into her personal bank accounts. She also used the account to withdraw cash and make personal purchases. Bank records indicate that Nealley used a debit/ATM card to make purchases at Foxwoods Resort and Casino, IKEA, Whole Foods, The Disney Store, Talbots and from the mail-order company Omaha Steaks.

GateHouse News Service