MONDAY, JULY 4 This week of weird and upsetting news kicks off with the Fourth of July, the annual celebration of American independence that regularly drives citizens into dangerous patriotic frenzies. The day's mayhem began two hours after midnight in Seattle's Pioneer Square, where hordes of revelers poured out of nightclubs to create "a large scale mass disturbance with 1500+ persons out in the street, fighting, posing, and or gawking at the others that were actively committing crimes," as Detective Renee Witt wrote on the SPD Blotter. "[Backup] units were called to the area as officers saw persons with firearms in the crowd, dozens of large scale fights that continued to escalate, and large groups of people on 1st Ave S." Two police officers were hurt ("non-life-threatening but painful injuries") and two suspects were arrested on suspicion of felony assault and felony property damage. Later this evening, more newsworthy mayhem will erupt in Enumclaw (where a confused elderly person will crash his car into eight people watching a fireworks display, one of them a pregnant woman who'll be airlifted to Harborview Medical Center) and Fargo, North Dakota, where a 41-year-old father of two will detonate a commercial-grade firework and lose his life and his head. "When I walked up to his body, it was nothing but his shoulders down," a traumatized neighbor/eyewitness said to the Grand Forks Herald. So thank God for the ray of light provided by this day-ending story from Seattle's Green Lake, where tonight a 32-year-old swimmer experienced technical difficulties and commenced drowning, only to be rescued by a heroically attentive bystander. "The 20-year-old... dove in and grabbed the other man as he was sinking to the bottom of the lake," reports Seattlepi.com. "He pulled the man to the surface and with the help of a third man, got the victim to shore. Police say the circumstances of the case—witness statements, depth of the water, and how fast the victim was sinking—make it unlikely that the 32-year-old would have been found in time if not for the other man who dove in to save him." Thank you, brave and attentive bystander, and happy birthday, USA!
TUESDAY, JULY 5 The week continues in Colorado, where today brought a sordid saga of alleged drug use, domestic violence, and a dead cat. Details come from Fox 31 News, which reports the saga commenced when a Boulder man called police to report that his girlfriend had just hit him in the face. "Officers say the woman—21-year-old Danielle Blankenship—admitted hitting her boyfriend with her fist because he wouldn't let her use his phone to call for a ride," reports Fox 31. While interviewing the couple, police noticed a catatonic cat lying on the steps. "Blankenship's boyfriend claims she was smoking heroin and blew it in the cat's face, an allegation the woman denies." Whatever the case, the cat was soon pronounced dead, and Blankenship was arrested on charges of cruelty to animals, third-degree assault, and domestic violence.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 6 In worse news, today brings the saddest story you'll ever read about an elderly couple in love and a skateboard. Our setting: Capitola, California, where yesterday afternoon 83-year-old Maryann Slettehaugh was taking her daily walk to the beach when ridiculous disaster struck. "[Slettehaugh] was crossing the street in a marked crosswalk," reports KTVU. "Police said a large panel truck had stopped for her. As she stepped out from in front of the truck into the bike lane, a 17-year-old boy on a skateboard slammed into her at more than 15 miles an hour." Mrs. Slettehaugh was airlifted to the hospital, where just before midnight she died, leaving behind her husband of 64 years. "We've been together for so long that I don't know what to do alone," said husband George Slettehaugh to KTVU today, revealing that he and the woman who would be his wife met in junior high, and that she'd been hit by a flying skateboard before. "She was leery of them and tried to avoid them," said Slettehaugh. "[She] kept watching for them all the time. We've been together so long, I really miss her." The 17-year-old was not injured and has not been arrested.
THURSDAY, JULY 7 Nothing happened today, unless you the count the sick fuck in Michigan who murdered seven people—including his wife, his mother-in-law and father-in-law, and his 12-year-old daughter—before fatally shooting himself. As always, condolences to the victims' loved ones, and confidential to all would-be murder-suicides: Do the suicide part first.
FRIDAY, JULY 8 Following Wednesday's heartbreaking skateboard story comes today's heartbreaking roller coaster story. Our setting: the Darien Lake Theme Park Resort in upstate New York, where today 29-year-old US Army sergeant James Hackemer had planned a day of rest and relaxation with friends and family. As the Associate Press reports, Hackemer was an Iraq war veteran who'd recently been released from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "Hackemer, a father of two, suffered two strokes and spent six weeks in a coma after being wounded in 2008 by an armor-penetrating warhead," reports the AP. "Brain-damaged by blood loss, he had to relearn to eat and speak." He lost both legs but had a new set of prosthetic legs: "I'll never feel actual normal like I was before," said Hackemer to the Buffalo News earlier this year. "But I think I'm pretty close to it." Which brings us to today, when Hackemer got his revamped, revised, and relearned self to the Darien Lake Theme Park, where he took a ride on the 208-foot-tall Ride of Steel roller coaster and "friends watched in horror as Hackemer was lifted from the seat and thrown as the car went over a hill after two big dips and some turns," reports the AP. After being thrown from the coaster, Hackemer was pronounced dead at the scene. "Rules posted on the park's website for the Ride of Steel say guests with 'certain body proportions' may not be able to ride it, but it doesn't give specifics," reports the AP. "The rules specifically bar people without both legs from riding at least two other coasters in the park." As for Hackemer: Grieving family members are taking heart in the fact that he died doing something fun that he loved. As his sister Jody Hackemer told the AP, "The minute he was on that ride, he probably felt the happiest and most normal he's felt in 3 1/2 years."
SATURDAY, JULY 9 Nothing happened today, including any runs of the Ride of Steel roller coaster, which remains closed following yesterday's weird tragedy.
SUNDAY, JULY 10 The week ends with this lovely slice o' life reported by Hot Tipper King Randall, who was browsing at the Fremont Sunday Street Market when the universe presented him with a glorious bit of found musical theater. "It was business as usual until almost everyone within earshot distance of the stereo in the back of the garage-mart—at least 20 people—erupted in glorious unison to the chorus of 'Rhinestone Cowboy.' I've never loved Seattle more."
•• Meanwhile in Russia, a cruise ship carrying over 200 passengers sank in the Volga River, with 128 people reported drowned.
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