Man in Tree to Police: “I’m an Owl”

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If only that had been true. He could have just flown away, plus he would not have been driving drunk in the first place.

According to the MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA), a 37-year-old man was arrested last Friday (Jan. 3) after a state trooper saw his Maxima crash into a snowbank on I-290. Well, not immediately after that, because the driver then got back on the road and drove for another mile or so (at 20 mph), even though the trooper was right behind him with lights flashing.

And not immediately after that, either. The trooper said that after the car did stop, the driver got out and jumped over the guard rail, running down an embankment into the woods. Instead of pursuing right away, the trooper checked the car, which “reeked of alcohol,” found the man’s wallet, then called in to report the incident and get help for a search.

This was a good idea for a couple of reasons. First, the trooper had no idea whether the guy was armed; and second, as some of you may have noticed lately, it is really freaking cold out there. Well, not here in SF—although it did get down into the 40s last night—but apparently in other places it has been somewhat colder. The temperature was in single digits last Friday when Rambo fled into the wilderness, but he was evidently too drunk to notice.

Police brought in a K-9 unit, though they were also able to follow the man’s footprints in the snow. After about an hour, they found the suspect. In a tree. But as far as he was concerned, the jig was not yet up. According to the trooper, when asked to surrender the man refused, slurring his words. He then “asked if we had caught the guy who was driving.”

So, just an interested citizen who saw the whole thing from up here in a tree, and wondered how the search was going. No, I haven’t seen anything suspicious, but I’ll definitely call it in if I do, officers. Good luck!

He then climbed higher up in the tree and told police he was an owl.

[The man] continued speaking about what a good guy he was and rambling on about being an owl in a tree [said the trooper]. He continually refused commands to climb down and instead climbed even higher, shaking the branches and saying, ‘Look, it’s snowing.’

This would probably have been more comical at the time except that police were concerned, based on a prior call, that the man’s young daughter might have been with him in the car and was now out in the cold. (She turned out to be safe.) But there had only been one set of tracks in the snow, and police asked him about that. He said the driver (which he wasn’t, remember) had been carrying him on his back. Hilarious now, but right then probably not a real hoot (pun intended).

The man still refused to surrender until firefighters showed up with an aerial tower and a chainsaw, which they had to use to cut away branches to get to the man. The trooper arrested him from the tower’s bucket.

It is not too surprising that he explained his refusal to come down by saying he was “scared” because he had two previous drunk-driving convictions. He refused to take a Breathalyzer test this time, which under state law means his license is suspended for five years, on top of the five or so other charges the Owl now faces.

Still, refusing the test might have been a good idea under the circumstances. Police said he made a phone call during which they heard him tell someone, “I think I’m borderline.” Assuming he was talking about intoxication, that seems like a pretty fair assumption.