Florida is a tremendously beautiful state loaded with world-renowned beaches, an abundance of flora & fauna, and no less than eight major theme parks… but hardly anyone remembers the Sunshine State for its benevolent accolades. And why would they when so many of the country's most asinine news stories come out of it?
Gainesville police say the driver of a pickup rammed into the rear of another vehicle. The pickup driver then jumped out and banged on the other driver’s windshield. The woman driving got scared and drove off... and because the pickup driver forgot to put the truck into park, it rolled right over him.
"She said she was meeting her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to be ready for the visit," a state trooper told reporters. The woman asked her ex-husband -- yes, he was in the passenger seat -- to take the wheel while she wielded her razor, and then her Thunderbird rear-ended a pickup.
In 2012, Florida post offices were repeatedly hit by drivers who kept -- supposedly -- mistaking their brake pedals for their gas pedals. The Postal Service ran a public service ad asking Florida drivers to please be more careful.
Four sharks were taking a road trip to New York in the back of a semi when the tractor-trailer blew a tire and skidded off into a ditch. One of the sharks was thrown from the truck and died instantly. The other three survived and probably went on to ride the Cyclone after arriving in Coney Island.
A man in Marathon somehow managed to lock himself in the trunk of his own Lincoln Continental -- but naturally left all the other doors open. A deputy rescued him, then ticketed him for possession of pot.
In 2015, a truck driver cruising down the interstate in rural Jackson County slammed into an odd obstruction. Police discovered that someone had killed an alligator, wrapped a chain around it, and hung its carcass over an overpass in an effort to make Florida even more nonsensical and ill-perceived than anyone ever thought possible.
Someone stole a man’s car from a Palm Springs dealership, where it was being serviced. When the cops found it, they also found a woman inside, unconscious… and totally naked. The owner said she might have gotten the keys to the car while visiting his house. Some mysteries are better left unsolved.
Clay County deputies pulled over a driver they had spotted weaving all over, running off the road, nearly hitting a parked car. He explained that he had a squirrel in his shirt, and it was eating him. “I had the defendant secure the squirrel and then exit the vehicle,” the officer reported. The driver was charged with a DUI. The squirrel was freed, a decision everyone found odd given its attempted homicide.
In the mid-'70s, just after Alligator Alley was opened, buzzards repeatedly attacked the cars and trucks, diving straight into -- and through -- their windshields. To this day, no one has ever figured out why.
A DeLand woman in a Kia, trying to veer around another car, ran over a pedestrian, then kept going. When police caught up with her, she explained she didn’t mean to hurt the guy but “he was in my way.”
One pickup truck passed another one near Panama City, so naturally everyone pulled over and piled out in the road for a fight -- even a pregnant woman. After hitting each other with a rake and a bat, one man tried to start a chainsaw to take this fight to Anchorman-esque levels. Luckily, it wouldn't turn on, and eventually the fight was broken up by a state trooper, a police officer, and two utility workers.
A Port Charlotte woman was giving a man oral sex while he was driving. She then suddenly pulled out a .357 Magnum and pointed it as his head, demanding money. Being caught with his pants down and a gun to his head, he punched her in the face, but lost control of the car and hit a palm tree. Both survived the crash. Their dignity remains at large.
Cops in Orlando pulled over a driver for DUI and discovered she was, as a headline put it, a “zombie-eyed woman dressed as a pig in a bathing suit.” Also, it wasnt Halloween. Just kidding, it was totally Halloween… but realistically, this could have easily been just another day on a Florida highway.
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Craig Pittman is a native Floridian and an award-winning reporter for Florida's largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times. Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country is his fourth book, after Paving Paradise, Manatee Insanity, and The Scent of Scandal, which may be the only book ever published to be classified as "True Crime/Gardening."