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When John Baxter was hit by a...

<i> From staff and wire reports </i>

When John Baxter was hit by a car as he tried to cross San Fernando Road in Sylmar, his pet duck flew into a fury.

“The paramedics told us that the duck kept jumping on Baxter’s chest as they tried to treat him, and they had to keep shooing it away,” Los Angeles Police Officer Pat Ramsey reported.

Ramsey said the paramedics told him: “We never saw such devotion from a duck.”

Baxter, a 49-year-old transient, was taken to a hospital with two broken arms and two broken legs. Paramedics gave temporary custody of the duck to a nurse who was passing by.

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But later, when Baxter inquired about his pet, no one could find the woman. Was she a duck-napper?

Then came the good news.

“We’ve canceled the APB (all points bulletin) for the duck,” said Police Sgt. Dennis Zine, explaining that the woman had heard radio reports of the duck’s disappearance and phoned police to identify herself.

Baxter was relieved.

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“Apparently he used to have a chicken too,” Zine said. “Somehow, the chicken disappeared.”

It wasn’t the Big One. In fact, Caltech says it wasn’t even a Small One.

Nevertheless, numerous Southern Californians phoned radio stations, claiming they felt a quake at about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Robert Finn, a Caltech spokesman, speculated that “it may have been a sonic boom, caused by a military aircraft.” But military officials reported no activity in the area.

Eight hours later, the region again shook. Now, that was a quake, Caltech said, reporting that it measured about 3.1 on the Richter scale and was centered near Van Nuys. Was Mother Nature trying to make a point?

Churches have been sanctuaries from the authorities for ages, but saloons don’t enjoy the same protection.

However, that didn’t stop an allegedly drunk driver who was involved in an accident early Wednesday morning from fleeing into a mid-town bar on 3rd Street. Witnesses told police that the owner, who apparently knew the fugitive, locked the joint up and shut off the lights.

Officers, tipped off by passers-by, knocked for 15 minutes, Police Detective George Suviate said. “They could hear people in there, but got no answer,” Suviate added. “Finally they used a small battering ram to force it open.”

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Police arrested the driver, as well as his protector.

A manure hot line?

It’s just what dairy farmers in Southern California need, according to Leslie Butler, an agricultural economist at UC Davis.

He conducted a survey of dairy farms throughout the state and found that dairy farmers farther north sell their manure for $3 to $20 per ton. But farmers here, including some in the Chino area, have to pay as much as $3 a ton to have theirs carted away because they aren’t taking advantage of the market in the more rural areas of the north.

“Ideally, if someone had extra manure, they could call a hot line number,” Butler said, “and say ‘I’ve got 10 tons of manure--I’ll sell it, give it away or pay someone to take it off.’ ”

Just hurry.


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