Home' Greymouth Star : May 26th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Monday, May 26, 2014 - 7
enerally car crashes
are no laughing
matter. But provided
they do not lead to
injury, a few freak
ones may cause us
to either smile, or
shake our heads in wonderment. There
are plenty of examples, from the worlds
of both two and four wheels.
It was a wet day in Taihape in 1978,
when two painters working near the
Taihape Women’s Club heard a two-
stroke motor over-revving and then a
They rushed out of the building
they had been working in and found
a new-looking 350cc Jawa motorcycle
embedded in the club wall.
A couple of minutes later a 20-year-
old ran up, huffing and puffing in wet
weather gear, boots and gloves. He
had been push-starting his bike in the
main street, which had a slight gradient.
When the twin cylinders fired up he
was unable to hold the heavy machine
back. The bike tore itself out of his hands
and travelled about half a kilometre,
somehow turning a corner before
smacking into the concrete wall.
A couple of years later a Tauranga
teenager push-started his small Yamaha
motorcycle in his driveway. It must have
had a sticky throttle, because it tore off
down the kid’s drive doing maximum
revs. The bike crossed a major suburban
street and careered through the open
gates of a school. It was a weekend
and the office doors were closed, but
it smashed through them and wedged
itself inside the principal’s office.
Five seconds of fame
While working at the old Takapuna
motorcycle shop in Barry’s Point Road
in the mid-1980s, a colleague and I
raised our eyes as a youngster riding a
Suzuki 550cc road bike roared into our
field of view. We watched as it smashed
into a parked car, then as the shaken
rider burst into tears and pushed his
machine back to Cycle Spot. He had
managed to ride his newly purchased
bike for maybe three seconds, covering
perhaps 150m before writing it off.
The strangest example I have heard of,
a freak truck smash happened in 1973
in the Sahara Desert, when a drunken
Libyan truck driver knocked down the
only tree for 600km.
The ‘ Tree of the Tenere’ in Niger had
sur vived against the odds possibly for
hundreds of years. The commander
of a French military mission, Michel
Lesourd, saw the tree growing in the
desert in 1939. Lesourd claimed it
must have been sacred, having survived
hundreds of years of camels stopping
to scratch themselves on the trunk, and
Arabs stopping to break off branches in
order to boil water for their tea. Since
the crash the tree has been replaced by a
metal sculpture representing a tree.
Wood you believe it?
An American man should not be alive
after he was rear-ended on a Portland
freeway by a truck carrying logs.
Tom Comstock was driving his
Nissan SUV home in rush-hour traffic
on November 23 last year when the
following truck hit him.
“ When the truck behind me hit me, he
had a bunch of lumber on his truck that
went through my back windshield, into
and through and around the steering
wheel and almost through the glass in
the front,” Comstock said.
A log just grazed his head, leaving just
Comstock got out of his car almost
immediately after the crash and a
few minutes later noticed paramedics
creeping up to the car.
He said they were expecting to see a
gruesome scene inside and were relieved
to see him standing.
Pops wants a pizza
In January last year an elderly man
got his foot stuck on the accelerator
of his car and drove into a Valentino’s
pizza restaurant in Lincoln, United
States. While concerned citizens called
emergency ser vices, the man placed an
order for a pizza from inside his car.
The Honda Fit (known as the Jazz in
NZ), seemed the “perfect fit ” to go right
through the restaurant ’s double doors.
“He seemed very calm and collected. I
was amazed,” said a bystander.
At the defunct Taranaki Herald in the
1970s, a teenage reporter on his first
day at work, was instructed to take one
of the company ’s Mini 850s out on a
job. He drove about 50m to the nearest
intersection where he ran a red light and
wrote off the car. My recollection is that
the lad was uninjured, but fired soon
after. According to office folklore no one
had checked if he had the driver’s licence
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
The Tree of the Tenere, the only tree for 600km, was destroyed by a drunk
Crashes that hit
the funny bone
In December 2013, she inspired
millions with her TED Talk. Now
Lizzie Velasquez, once called
“the world’s ugliest woman,”
hopes to reach an even-wider
audience through an anti-bullying
documentary about her story.
“I know what it is to be bullied
and what is to be bullied on-line,
and I want to be the protector of
those who think it won’t get better,”
said Velasquez, 25, who has a rare
disease that makes it impossible for
her to gain weight. She has never
weighed more than 64 pounds and
is blind in one eye.
“The idea is that they see the
documentary and realise that, yes, it
is possible to overcome everything,”
she said during an inter view in a
coffee shop in Austin, Texas.
She is raising money for the film,
tentatively titled The Lizzie Project,
through a Kickstarter campaign
that has already collected more
than $123,000 in donations. The
campaign, whose trailer can be seen
at TheLizzieProject.com, ends May
The goal is to raise $180,000.
Velasquez was born in Austin in
1989 with a syndrome so rare only
two other people in the world are
known to have it.
She became a celebrity on
December 5, 2013, when her TED
Talk (short speeches designed
to share and spread ideas from a
number of disciplines) in Austin
(part of the worldwide event
TEDxWomen) became a hit. In her
speech, Velasquez explained that
her life changed at age 17, when
she saw herself on a You Tube video
titled, “ The world’s ugliest woman.”
The video’s comments section
featured comments such as, “Do
the world a favour and put a gun to
“Instead of just taking shelter
of my tears, I chose to be happy
and realise this syndrome is not a
problem but a blessing that allows
me to improve myself and inspire
other people,” said Velasquez.
In the years since she saw the
video and comments, Velasquez
graduated from college, wrote
three self-help books (the third,
Choosing Happiness, will be
published in August) and gained
tens of thousands of followers on
Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.
She has been inter viewed by Katie
Couric and ABC’s The View,
where she met Barbara Walters and
Velasquez credits her strength to
her parents, who have always loved
her the same way they love her
siblings, Marina and Chris, neither
of whom suffer from the syndrome.
“They ’re the best parents in the
entire world,” said Velasquez.
“From the moment I was born they
showered me with love. And they
didn’t just raise me. They raised my
brother and sister in the exact same
way. So that love, multiplied times
three, is what definitely brought me
to where I am today.”
Velasquez was born four weeks
premature. Doctors used a photo to
show her to her mother for the first
time. “I started crying inconsolably,
but I asked them to bring her to me
nevertheless,” said Rita Velasquez.
“I wanted to see her, hold her and
Her father said Lizzie realised
she was different on her first day of
kindergarten, when other kids did
not want to play with her. “ We told
her about the syndrome and, ever
since, (Lizzie) showed great signs of
maturity,” he said.
“Lizzie has such an inner strength
and sense of humour that anyone
can relate to her,” said Sara Bordo,
a first-time director working with
Velasquez on the film project.
“ We all have difficulties in life, but
nothing compared to what she has
been through. Her positive attitude
elevates the spirit of any person in
Velasquez says she is not interested
in a cure for her syndrome.
“No, there is no way, I wouldn’t
even consider it,” Velasquez said.
“If you had asked me that question
when I was 13, I’d probably have
said yes. I’d be all for it, I’d do the
trial, whatever. But if you ask me
that now, I’ve learned and I’ve come
such a long way to be able to accept
if I changed anything about me I
wouldn’t be Lizzie, I wouldn’t be
true to myself.”
— New Zealand Herald
A look at accidents freakish in nature, insanely lucky or just plain stupid.
‘ World’s ugliest woman’
pursues anti-bullying film
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