Only in Petaluma: A year in wacky news stories
Published: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 12:00 p.m.
From a man found hanging from a cross to a woman who was apparently resurrected from the dead, 2012 produced more than its share of wild and weird Petaluma stories.
As Petaluma Police Officer Dustin Rodriguez said as he helped bring Eli Lucas down from a cross he had planted on the corner of D Street and Petaluma Boulevard, “This is a little much for Petaluma.”
Maybe, but it did happen as did a bank reporting a very much live customer dead, pigeon's launching a saturation bombing attack in a downtown Petaluma garage and a would-be martial artist who injured himself while roundhouse kicking a window.
2012 was a very good year for quirky news in our community.
Cross hanging: No one could quite figure out what point part-time actor and filmmaker Eli Lucas was trying to make when friends tied him to a cross and planted him in Walnut Park in early March.
“I died so that you would hate gays, hate women, hate blacks, hate your neighbors, hate your children. I died so that you would live in hate,” he shouted from his perch.
When police arrived to abate the public nuisance, Lucas politely climbed down, lugged his cross to a waiting SUV and rode away comfortably into Petaluma history.
Dead woman lives: In February, Petaluman Patricia Goddard Sirna was shocked to discover that Bank of America had declared her dead.
The news came as a surprise not only to Goddard Sirna, but to her friends, who invited her to a mourning party featuring wilted flowers and a cake smeared with black icing.
The bank's error had a serious side. Being “deceased” ruined her credit rating and, despite cooperation from the bank, it took several weeks to get her finances straightened out.
Bless this burning house: In March, a Petaluma woman attempted to “bless” her house with a burning container of rum and bath salts.
The blessing apparently worked because the only damage to the home was a charred bathroom door when flames from the container set a towel on fire.
Firefighters deemed the fire accidental.
Window wins: In April, a 21-year-old Petaluma man lost a mixed martial arts match with a window on Kentucky Street.
Police said the man, identified at Brent Clewis, kicked at the window of the Sleep City Mattress Center.
The window broke, but Clewis severed his Achilles tendon and suffered an arterial bleed that required 30 staples at Petaluma Valley Hospital where he was treated.
The window was awarded a TKO.
Pigeon poop: In March, city officials admitted they had no easy answers on how to evict a flock of trespassing pigeons who homesteaded in the city's Keller Street Garage.
The interlopers threatened vehicles and drivers alike with a deluge of waste that disgusted and discouraged downtown shoppers.
“The garage is fantastic for my business and all the businesses around here, but everyone complains about the pigeons,”said Lou Rosenberger, owner of the downtown Far West Trading company. “The pigeons and their mess are dreadful and it is crazy that nobody can do anything about it.”
While the city and downtown merchants squabbled over who should be responsible for dealing with the problem, the pigeons cooed contentedly and pooped away.
Homeless goats: In August, the area's home foreclosure problem took a new and disturbing turn when 99 goats and three llamas were evicted from their home in an upscale Penngrove neighborhood.
The owners of Goat Rescue of Sonoma County, Ken Zamvil and Nancy Brotman, faced additional problems for allegedly failing to keep their animals properly corralled and for keeping twice as many animals on the 41⁄2-acre property as allowed by zoning.
A goat spokesperson reportedly responded to the eviction with a short, “Baaa-humbug.”
Soccer dad: A 41-year-old Petaluma man said he was only trying to get his children to their soccer match on time after being arrested for allegedly driving 104 miles per hour on Route 116 near Pine View Way.
Police said it took almost three miles to catch up to the vehicle driven by Juan Carlos Gallegos containing his two 9-year-old children.
The driver was not given a red card, but was arrested for reckless driving and child endangerment.
Pilot grounded: In January, a Penngrove man was arrested after a CHP air patrol crew spotted the plane he was piloting skimming as low as 50 feet off the ground and within 100 feet of traffic on Highway 37.
Officers did not immediately pull over the plane flown by Michael B. Ferrero, 62, but followed him to the Petaluma Airport where he was arrested for drunken flying. The pilot denied flying impaired, saying he didn't begin drinking until after he had landed.
He later pleaded no contest to flying under the influence and was placed on electronic home confinement for 39 days and required to perform 26 days of community service.
He also agreed not to taxi or fly his airplane for 90 days and was ordered not to transport alcohol in his plane.
Federal Aviation Administration officials had earlier asked him to surrender his pilot's license, learning the hard way that it is not all right to buzz a highway while buzzed.
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