Colorado rang in 2014 with a bit of a mellow buzz -- a certain relaxed attitude -- and it was a feeling that lasted throughout the year. Sure, that mellow was harshed by continuing problems with police and sheriff's deputies, as well as a very contested (and expensive) election season. But we also got a few needed civics lessons in the form of same-sex marriage and student protests. In the end, though, our minds remained tuned to the biggest story of the year: legalized marijuana. What will 2015 bring? Who knows? Anything can happen when you're a mile high. For proof, here are our strangest Colorado animal stories of 2014, compiled from news sources across Colorado -- including Westword. Or, you can check out all our Year in Review 2014: Strange But True.
A man who was cleaning his gun while sitting in traffic in Lafayette accidentally shot himself in the leg in August. The 53-year-old man was on his way to a sporting-goods store, where he planned to trade in the gun; he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Steven Paula, 43, and Mason Deal, 18, got into a road-rage altercation after a November fender bender in Parker that ended with Paula being charged with assault. How did police find the suspect? Paula's daughter recorded the incident on her smartphone, then posted the video to Snapchat. A friend of Deal's saw the post and called police, who were able to identify Paula.
In February, a ten-year-old girl got into the driver's seat of a car after her mom got out to go into a Department of Motor Vehicles building in Parker. Then the child drove the car right into the building, smashing through the windows into the lobby. According to authorities, no one was injured and the damage was minimal. The girl was cited for careless driving.
During somber coverage of a horrible Seattle helicopter crash in March, Denver's Fox 31 was showing a Twitter stream live on the air. The feed showed a picture of smoke rising from the crash before switching to a picture of Edward Scissorhands, some food and, finally,an image of a gigantic penis hanging out the front of a pair of pants
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crew members were momentarily startled but managed to collect themselves quickly. Fox 31 later issued the following apology: "While reporting breaking news about the crash of the KOMO-TV helicopter in Seattle, Fox 31 Denver accidentally broadcast an offensive photo while scrolling live through a Twitter feed of pictures from the crash scene. The photo was mistakenly broadcast by our control room. It did not come from the tablet many viewers saw being used by one of our anchors. We apologize for the inadvertent broadcast of the image, and we are taking immediate steps to prevent such an accident from happening again."
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Most of us don't have to wear our mistakes on our backs like a scarlet letter. But ever since the Colorado Rockies handed out 15,000 jerseys with Troy Tulowitzki's name misspelled as Tulowizki, fans have been able to sport their team's big blunder. The Coors Field giveaway, which took place in July, was sponsored by King Soopers, and the team was forced to apologize both to the supermarket chain and to fans, saying: "The Colorado Rockies offer our sincere apologies to the fans for the misspelling of the Troy Tulowitzki King Soopers jersey that was distributed tonight. The Rockies would also like to apologize to longtime corporate partner King Soopers, who was not involved in the production of the jerseys. Acknowledging that many fans came to the game for the jersey, rather than disappoint them, we decided to go ahead and hand them out. We have made plans to reproduce the jersey, and fans wishing to exchange will be able to do so at a future date.... In addition, fans exchanging the jersey will receive a complimentary ticket to a future game in 2014 or 2015."
What is it about Aspen that brings out the worst in famous people? In August, popular Dallas TV morning-show anchor Brendan Higgins, of CBS11, was arrested at the tony Little Nell hotel after employees there reported to police that he had punched a driver and was being violent with staffers -- staffers who were apparently carrying the ultra-drunk Higgins from a car to the elevator. Later, the anchor continued his antics at the police station. Here's a report from an officer: "Higgins then attempted to strike me using a swiping motion with his hands. I pushed Higgins towards the elevator doors, which he was standing a few inches from. Higgins hit the elevator with his head and then pretended to pass out and slumped to the floor. I could tell that Higgins had not actually passed out, because he was giggling." Higgins later threatened to beat the police "till they die."