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March 25, 2008 at 6:30 AM
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'Brain dead' patient found to be alive

WICHITA FALLS, Texas, March 24 (UPI) -- A 21-year-old who was declared brain dead at a Texas hospital was found to be alive some four hours later.

Zack Dunlap opened his eyes within five days of receiving a severe head injury while riding an all-terrain vehicle without a helmet and walked out of a rehab center to return home 48 days after the November crash, NBC's "Today" reported Monday.

After the crash, Dunlap, of Oklahoma, was airlifted to United Regional Healthcare System in Wichita Falls, Texas, where doctors declared the 21-year-old brain dead.

"There was no activity at all. No blood flow at all," Dunlap's father, Doug, said of the PET scan he was shown by doctors.

However, Dunlap's cousin, Dan Coffin, who works as a nurse, decided to follow up on a hunch while a hospital nurse was removing tubes from the patient. He dug one of his fingernails in under one of his cousin's, causing Zack Dunlap to yank his arm away and place it on the other side of his body -- a sign of life.

"We went from the lowest possible moment to, 'Oh, my gosh, our son is still alive!'" his mother told "Today."

Dunlap said he still suffers from memory and emotional problems related to his injury but he looks forward to returning to his job as a warehouse worker and regaining his driver's license.

British 999 calls often not emergencies

EXETER, England, March 24 (UPI) -- Exeter, England, emergency officials are asking the public to stop using the 999 emergency system for non-emergency situations.

The West Country Ambulance Trust said it has received 999 calls from residents who had trouble changing TV channels and preparing cups of tea as well as people seeking to have their garbage picked up, The Daily Mail reported Monday.

"Half our calls are not emergencies. We have even had calls from people asking us to take their rubbish away," said Lynne Paramor, the public involvement manager for the service. "This often happens on bank holidays when they have nobody else to ring and so dial 999."

"It is scandalous because they are holding up a line and someone in a real emergency may not get through," Paramor told The Daily Mail.

"People need to think before they dial 999 if it is an emergency or if they would be better off calling a relative or friend or a GP (general practitioner) or a voluntary service," the official said.

Gypsies move in near British official

WARWICK, England, March 24 (UPI) -- A group of 64 gypsies who set up camp in a lot 200 yards from the home of a British official said they moved in on Easter to circumvent planning laws.

The "family of travelers" said they moved into the 2.5 acre site, which they purchased last year, on Easter Sunday to avoid interference from law enforcement officers while they were on vacation, The Daily Mail reported Monday.

The group spent 48 hours erecting electricity cables, water supplies and bases for mobile homes -- one for each of the 16 families in the group.

"This has been a big rush job and we purposely chose the Easter holiday weekend so that we could get more done before anybody tried to stop us," said Tom Brazil, 30, a father of three.

"There are 16 families here, each with up to three caravans, and we banded together to buy the land 12 months ago," he said.

The site is only 200 yards from the country home of Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.

"They have done a hell of a lot in a short time. I am genuinely sympathetic to people like them," said Jowell's estranged husband, David Mills, 53, who lives permanently in the country home. "We all need a place to live but, equally so, all have to obey the planning laws."

Root beer kegger attracts cops

KRONENWETTER, Wis., March 24 (UPI) -- A root beer keg party hosted by a Kronenwetter, Wis., high school student attracted police who suspected underage drinking at the shindig.

Dustin Zebro, 18, said the idea for the root beer party was cooked up to mock school administrators who suspended some of his friends from sports after they were caught drinking, the Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald reported Monday.

The party displayed enough similarities to parties with the root beer keg's alcoholic counterparts that police showed up to administer breath tests to the rowdy high school-age partygoers. However, every reveler tested was found to be free of alcohol.

"We didn't know it would work well enough to make the cops show up," Zebro said. The student said he and his friends believe that underage drinking off school grounds is a matter to be handled by police, not school officials.

However, Principal Tom Johansen defended the school's actions.

"I think we have an obligation as an educational institution" to investigate underage drinking and mete out penalties, he said.

Gopher-hunt goes bad to fiery ending

CALGARY, Alberta, March 24 (UPI) -- A Calgary, Alberta, man fed up with a gopher infestation accidentally started a weekend wildfire that caused more than $200,000 in damages, firefighters said.

Firefighters from four municipalities scrambled to prevent the fire from burning any houses Saturday, but Rocky View Assistant Deputy Fire Chief Jim Pendergast said some barns, sheds and vehicles were damaged or destroyed, the Calgary Herald reported Monday.

The province is undergoing an infestation of gophers, and Pendergast said a group of people had used a new system called the Rodenator on their property. The system blasts oxygen and propane down the hole and then creates explosions that collapse tunnels and kill the rodents by concussion, the report said.

"I have never been to a fire started by this before," Pendergast said Sunday. "We're not saying there's something wrong with the device. But this is not an appropriate time to use it."

The fire consumed about a half mile of extremely dry prairie grass, and Pendergast said the people targeting gophers could face liability for losses and the $40,000 firefighting bill, the newspaper.

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