The 11 strangest New Jersey stories of 2016
Extreme dog hoarding. The sad saga of Pedals the Bear. The most moronic mattress commercial ever.
New Jersey's had a strange year. .
Miracle Mattress in San Antonio thought it would be a great idea to advertise a sale where you get twin mattress prices for any size mattress. The problem ... it advertised it using the Twin Towers 9/11 attacks.
What makes it all the worse is at the end of the commercial, you see two employees fall into and knock over two towers made of stacked mattresses, replicating the falling of NYC’s twin towers.
As they fall, a woman screams in false horror, then is heard saying “We will never forget." The store's owner apologized and temporarily closed the chain's locations.
The death of New Jersey's infamous Pedals the Bear created quite a stir — with one hunter being accused on social media of being the person that killed the bipedal bear.
But Thomas McCreary of Bridgewater told New Jersey 101.5 that the rumors on Facebook that he shot Pedals and bragged about it are untrue and said he had never tagged a bear in New Jersey.
The DEP would not confirm Pedals' death but released photos of a bear "consistent" with injuries similar to those of Pedals. McCreary, meanwhile, wound up suing the people who made the accusations.
Our own Meteorologist Dan Zarrow almost became a victim of a unsettling scheme from a surprising source. A scraggly, middle-aged man came to Dan's door and said he could fix the dent in the bumper of his wife's car.
Something didn't smell right about the situation to Dan, and he called the police and provided a description of the man and the vehicle.
Dan learned that this could have been an attempt of a common scam, in which someone offers to repair part of your car or house for cash, but ultimately does a poor or incomplete job. The second and more alarming possibility is that this was a deception scam. Dan writes: "while I was outside tending to the car, a co-conspirator would sneak in the front door or back door and steal whatever they could grab!"
Kevin Hemmerich, 29, and his brother thought it would be funny to make a video of Hemmerich causing “a little bit of ruckus” before he turned himself in for an arrest warrant,
But a police officer on duty didn’t get appreciate the joke when he blew an air horn inside Hopatcong police headquarters.
Ultimately, the man in the bunny costume was charged — but so was the officer, for allegedly assaulting the "bunny" by slapping him with an open hand.
Alana Hubbard, a professional photographer from Piscataway, took pictures using 24 children of friends of hers who are all fans of "The Walking Dead." The shoot used fake guns, crossbows and other props. The show’s official website even posted some of the pictures, according to Hubbard.
The photos went viral but some people on the internet were offended at the sight of children using weapons, and reported them to Facebook.
“Not all photos of kids have to be lollilpops and gumdrops. How many pictures do I have of my kids smiling in a park? I wanted to do something different and creative,” she said. “I don’t understand why this little photographer from Central Jersey is causing such a media storm.”
A Lakewood bus driver caught on dash cam video passing a FedEx truck lost his job — and so did the trucker who made an aggressive move at the bus.
A video captured by Stephen O’Connor's camera shows the school bus crossing a solid yellow line to pass the truck on the left. As the bus attempts to get back in front of the tractor-trailer, the truck driver swerves toward the vehicle, and both vehicles veer into a turning lane and eventually into the oncoming traffic lane, just as they pass through an intersection. The vehicles barely avoid a collision with a vehicle driving in the opposite direction.
We're just glad no children were on the bus, and no one was hurt.
It was called Monmouth County's worst case of pet hoarding: 276 dogs initially found in a Howell home.
Members of three animal rescue agencies wore hazmat suits on a hot June day as they removed the small dogs from the Bennett Road home and checked them over.
In November, Joe and Charlene Hendrick were fined $25,000 and, if they pass a psychological test, could be allowed to own another small animal or two.
All this over just $7.98
Ashton G. Funk, 34, of Northfield, was arrested and charged last September with stealing sunflower seeds, a breakfast sandwich, Gatorade and coffee all worth $7.98 from a Wawa in this Atlantic County city where he worked as a firefighter and beach patrol employee.
It's a pretty minor charge. But since was a public employee — a firefighter and lifeguard — the county prosecutor became involved. In January, upon the prosecutor’s request, Municipal Court Judge H. Robert Switzer, stripped Funk of his public employment with the city Fire Department and Beach Patrol.
He'd been earning a base salary last year of $79,708 until the incident.
Who was that mustachioed man?
One morning in June, New Jersey 101.5 started getting … odd calls. A cowboy, complete was a couple of horses, was traveling across the Outerbridge Crossing.
It seems the cowboy in question is “Doc Mishler” — a cancer survivor who, according to several reports, has ridden across the country several times. Last year, he rode from Montana to Texas and then Washington, D.C. to spread messages of faith and raise support for Bread for the World, which combat’s children’s hunger.
But his trip across the Outerbridge caused some trouble — backing up traffic and causing a lot of commotion. He was ultimately stopped by Port Authority Police.
Josue Espinoza told our own Dennis and Judi he'd spoken to Doc.
“I asked him ‘When does he stop?’ and he said, ‘Whenever the horses get tired.’ I asked him ‘When is that?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know. It’s up to them,” Espinoza recounted. “I also asked him how long he’s been out. He said he’s doesn’t know, doesn’t care. He bought three Snapples — one for him and one for each of his horses."
The human resources department at Princeton University sent out a four-page memo spelling out a more gender-inclusive language policy for any kind of HR interaction.
The policy points to nearly 40 words and common phrases that include “man” or differentiate gender.
Here are some highlights our own Joe Votruba noted when he wrote about it this summer:
- Instead of forefathers, use the term “ancestors.”
- Instead of mankind, use “humanity” or “people.” (Keep in mind the definition of mankind means the human species collectively)
- Instead of man and wife, use “spouses” or “partners.”
- Forget about man hours, man made or manpower. It’s now “person hours,” “handmade” or “manufactured,” and “personnel” or “workforce.”
- Don’t say cleaning lady, actress or policewoman. Say “office cleaner,” “actor,” and “police officer.”
- And my favorite: Instead of freshman, use “first year students” or “frosh.”
Joe, who says he's all for expanding terms to include all genders when it makes sense, thought this got a little silly.
"Princeton University should "absolutely change its name in light of this policy," he wrote. Early versions of the name of the town that became Princeton include Princetown and Prince’s Town. I’m no expert, but I believe that implies a man founded their town. One of our
"As a proud member and advocate of the LGBTQ community, I will support any measure that leads to inclusion for all, no matter how you identify sexually or where you land on the gender spectrum. This, however, is an abomination."
A Howell woman got the shock of her life when the deer she hit with her car leaped back up and then tried to jump inside her SUV.
Patrolman Nicholas Austin, who saw Ellen Sager hit the deer, watched as the animal went across the dark road. As Austin pulled up, his cruiser’s dash cam caught the deer make a beeline across the road and ram the driver’s side of Sager’s 2008 GMC Envoy.
Sager opened her door and pushed back at the deer as it tried to jump inside and climb over her. She struggled with the deer and and finally kicked it out, quickly closing the door.
Sager suffered minor injuries to a knee from her encounter; the deer died from its injuries.