MONDAY, DECEMBER 27 This week of tarmac trauma, underwater Australia, and early candidates for the Worst Story of 2011 kicks off in rural Pennsylvania, where tonight brought a memorial for Bradley McCombs, the 17-year-old who was killed in a car crash on Christmas Day and laid out in a Cherryhill Township funeral home this evening. For tonight's viewing, the young McCombs was presented in his coffin alongside a few treasured possessions, including a Game Boy, a Game Boy Light, and a collection of Nintendo game cartridges. But this poignant tableau of a life cut short abruptly morphed into a mess of shock and indignation as one of the funeral- goers made off with the dead kid's toys. Details come from the Daily Mail, which identifies the alleged suspect as Jody Bennett, a 38-year-old friend of the McCombs family who fled the scene after being confronted about the theft. Described by his mortified aunt as "into drugs," "into alcohol," and "just messed up," Bennett will remain at large until Wednesday, when he'll be arrested and arraigned on charges of theft, intentional desecration of a venerated object, and abuse of a corpse. ("Though Bennett is not accused of touching or altering the boy's body, the criminal complaint said the last charge is warranted whenever a person 'treats a corpse in a way that he knows would outrage ordinary family sensibilities,'" reports the AP.)
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 28 The week continues in New York City, where today the city's extended debilitation by blizzard led to some high drama on the tarmac, as a Cathay Pacific flight from Vancouver, British Columbia, landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport just after 2:00 a.m. and passengers were held on board for 11 hours. Blamed on what a Cathay Pacific spokesperson described as "a very fluid situation at JFK due to the weather," the sadistically delayed deplaning was exacerbated by the flight's international status, which demands unloading in a special customs area and exempts the airline from the provisions of the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, which prohibits leaving passengers on grounded planes for more than three hours (but doesn't apply to flights originating outside the U.S.). "It was really a tough situation," said passenger Christina Edgar to CNN. "There were a lot of people on the plane crying." (Confidential to the nation's prescribing physicians: Please remember stories like this when plane-bound patients request tranquilizers. Thank you.)
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 29 In lighter news, today brings reports of the federal investigation of Christine O'Donnell, the professed nonwitch/confirmed political failure who stands accused of using campaign funds for personal expenses: "The criminal probe is being conducted by two federal prosecutors and two FBI agents," an anonymous source told the Associated Press. "The matter has yet to be referred to a grand jury." Tomorrow the disgraced Tea Party darling of Delaware will appear on Good Morning America, where she'll dismiss the investigation as "politically motivated" and deny all wrongdoing. The federal investigation continues, fueled by the allegations of folks such as O'Donnell's former campaign manager Kristin Murray, who confessed the following in a Republican Party robocall: "As O'Donnell's manager, I found out she was living on campaign donations—using them for rent and personal expenses, while leaving her workers unpaid and piling up thousands in debt." Stay tuned!
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 30 The week continues in Australia, where a calamitous combination of Cyclone Tasha and the 2010 La Niña weather pattern has left vast stretches of southern and central Queensland underwater. As 1,001 media outlets will report, the continent's flooded region is bigger than Texas and/or France and Germany combined, with flooding forcing the evacuation of 22 towns and over 200,000 people.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31 Speaking of the end-times: The week continues in Arkansas, where today brought a deadly tornado and five thousand dead blackbirds falling from the sky. Birds first: As the Associated Press informs us, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began receiving reports of dead birds around 11:30 p.m. tonight. "The birds fell over a one-mile area in the town of Beebe, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside that area," reports the AP. "Ornithologist Karen Rowe said the birds showed physical trauma and speculated that 'the flock could have been hit by lightning or high- altitude hail.' The commission said that New Year's Eve fireworks celebrations could have startled the birds from their roost and caused them to die from stress. The dead birds have been sent for testing." As for the deadly tornado: It tore through the northwest part of the state, knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses and killing three people.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 1 Happy New Year! Now here's a story that will make you want to go to sleep until 2012. Our setting: Redmond, where early this morning a fire was reported at the Sammamish Ridge Apartments. By the time the blaze was extinguished, it had killed five people and injured one, Lilly Reasor, whose husband and four sons were the fatalities. As the Seattle Times will report tomorrow: "David Thompson and his wife, Lilly Reasor, 31, had spent part of Friday night celebrating the New Year by smoking marijuana in the bathroom of their ground-level home, according to a law-enforcement source close to the investigation. Reasor also was smoking cigarettes in the bathroom and flicking ashes into a wastebasket... Neighbor Belinda Phelps, who confirmed she had given the account of the evening to law-enforcement officials, said the couple returned to the bathroom to smoke several times." Which brings us to the sentence that will tear your heart in half, courtesy of the Times: "Phelps said she had told Reasor to stop flicking her ashes into the trash can, which was filled with tissue and other paper products, but that Reasor had told her that bath tissue was not flammable." Condolences to all, forever.
••In only very slighty lighter news: Just after midnight in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood, a twentysomething woman drove her Acura into an oncoming Metro bus and died. No one on the bus was hurt.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 2 In much better news, the week ends with some surprise hometown triumph, as the Seattle Seahawks punted their way to a 16–6 win over the St. Louis Rams, securing the NFC West championship and qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Congratulations to the Seahawks, who will take on the New Orleans Saints this coming Saturday.
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