Compiled and Written by Lenny Giteck
L.A. County Sheriff’s Department
Reinvestigates Natalie Wood Case
Even though 30 years have passed since beautiful Hollywood actress Natalie Wood drowned near Catalina Island off the Southern California coast, rumors continue to suggest the death resulted from something more sinister than “a tragic accident” — as Wood’s widower, actor Robert Wagner, has consistently characterized the event.
There has long been speculation that Wood was pushed into the water (either inadvertently or purposely) or committed suicide.
Now the world may get another chance to learn what happened. As latimes.com noted last month: “It is unclear what compelling evidence — if any — prompted the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to reopen the case [on Nov. 17], and what accounts for the peculiar timing. Detectives formally announced the probe Friday, two weeks from the three-decade anniversary of Wood's death, and days before the scheduled retrospective on the case on CBS' ‘48 Hours.’”
One development that may have prompted launching a new investigation: recent statements by Dennis Davern, the captain of the yacht that Wood, Wagner and actor Christopher Walken (Wood’s costar in the movie “Brainstorm”) were on when Wood died. Davern has been implying that Wagner had something to do with Wood’s drowning, although he has refused to provide details.
Not in doubt are reports that a great deal of drinking and arguing took place on the yacht that night. Wood — who died at the age of 43 — reportedly had a lifelong fear of the water.
According to latimes.com: “Bill McSweeney, chief of the Sheriff's Department Detective Division, said he hoped the new probe would resolve unanswered questions and ‘put an end to the phone calls from the media and others.’" Time will tell.
Video: To watch an interview with the late Natalie Wood, click here.
Half-Mile-Long Swimming Pool
Proposed for German Capital
If German architectural firm realities:united gets its way, the city of Berlin will boast the world’s longest swimming pool — a massive installation extending approximately a half-mile (the equivalent of 17 Olympic-size pools end-to-end).
The company’s vision is to transform an unused section of the River Spree, which flows through the city center, into a major recreational attraction for residents and tourists alike. The proposed project, called Flussbad, recently won first prize in the 3rd International Holcim Awards, a European competition for “sustainable construction projects.“
As technology e-newsletter Gizmag reported, “The renewal concept for the 3.9-hectare (9.6-acre) site is ‘surprisingly simple and very cost-efficient’ says realities:united. Parts of the Lustgarten quay would be transformed into stairs, creating an access point to the swimming pool, recreation gardens and functional facilities such as lockers, change rooms and bathrooms.”
The project’s sustainability presumably stems from the way the water is to be purified: “The plans incorporate an upper 1.8-hectare (4.4-acre) reed bed, which would naturally purify the water entering the swimming pool, whilst a barrage at the lower end of the system would prevent backflow of unfiltered water from the river.”
In awarding first prize to the Flussbad proposal, the Holcim Awards jury praised it as “an excellent example of what could be achieved within challenging inner city areas that possess a rich tradition and cultural heritage where the local public has been overlooked."
Images: To view artist renderings of the proposed Flussbad pool, click here.
Video Captures 86-Year-Old
Driving Automobile into Pool
Unfortunately, someone driving a vehicle into a backyard swimming pool is not a unique event in the U.S.; it regularly takes place somewhere in the country, usually because of a mechanical malfunction or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
But when Austin, Tex., retirement home resident Mary Lee Fine did it last month, the incident was notable in two respects: First, there was a video of the accident while it took place; second, not only was the driver 86 years old, she managed to keep her wits about her, exit the car with assistance from a neighbor and swim to safety.
According to w.asylum.co.uk, Fine was forced to enter her car from the passenger side because another vehicle parked too close to the driver side. “Mary Lee squeezed in via the passenger seat before accidentally knocking the car into gear,” the Web site revealed. “The vehicle then started reversing into another car, then shot into a higher gear and blasted across the car park, through a fence and into a swimming pool.”
The article quoted the elderly woman as saying, "I don't know what I hit — the key, the gear shift — but the car backed up fast, then [moved] forward. It went right through the fence into the pool."
Luckily, a good-Samaritan neighbor quickly entered the pool and helped Fine out of the sinking vehicle. “Clothes and all, he walked into the pool and managed to get the door open," Fine said. "It took a little bit of doing, but he got it open and helped me up." She explained her survival this way: "I am one tough old lady. It's just stubbornness."
Video: To watch the brief but exciting action-adventure flick “Mary Lee Fine’s Big, Wet Plunge,” click here and scroll down to the video. You’ll also see the plucky Ms. Fine describing her harrowing ordeal.
U.K. Pool Adds Climbing Wall
To Help Keep Facility Afloat
Not long ago, it seemed a sure bet that the public swimming pool in the town of Harlech in the U.K. region of North Wales would soon be history: The local Gwynedd town council didn’t have the money to keep the installation going. “There was an outcry after the council said in 2007 that Harlech pool had ‘reached the end of its life’ and closing it would save £160,000 a year,” reported bbc.co.uk.
Luckily, a fundraising campaign was launched and managed to gain the pool a temporary reprieve. Still, finding ongoing funding remained a problem. Recently, Harlech and Ardudwy Leisure, the nonprofit company that runs the facility, came up with a novel solution: installing a 34-foot-high climbing wall next to the pool, plus a smaller “bouldering wall” for kids and climbing novices.
Noted bbc.co.uk, “[Harlech and Ardudwy] hopes the…wall will be an all-weather attraction for families and seasoned climbers.” The region often suffers from inclement weather conditions not conducive to swimming
The article continued: “Richard Holland, one of five volunteers who run [Harlech and Ardudwy] said not many swimming pools make a profit these days, and it became clear they needed to diversify to attract more users and income.” In addition to installing the two climbing walls, the company refurbished the pool’s café.
The main wall has become quite popular with local rock climbers, Holland said. Lessons are planned for newbies interested in getting involved with the sport.
Photos: To see images of the Harlech climbing wall, click here.
‘Bob the Amazing Diving Dog’
Becomes YouTube Celebrity
A spunky Bakersfield, Calif., pooch named Bob will go to any length to retrieve his favorite plastic toy — even if it means executing a spiral dive eight feet down into his family’s backyard pool. Owner Kristie Navarrette recounts on the Web site abclocal.go.com, "We’ve named him Bob the Amazing Diving Dog."
Bob was a stray four years ago when the Navarrettes took him in; it wasn’t long before the family noticed he was quite a retriever. "I was floating one day in the pool, and he dropped [the toy] in the pool, and I wasn't going to get it until I got out. I told him that, and he looked at me like 'I don't need you' and did it," recalls Navarrette.
Ever since, Bob has been entertaining people with his deep-water derring-do — including during the winter, when the outside temperature plummets. Says Navarrette, "I'm always yelling out of the window, ‘Get out of the pool because it's freezing!’"
After Navarrette posted a video of Bob’s watery exploits on YouTube, he quickly became an Internet sensation.
Video: To watch Bob do his thing in order to retrieve his beloved toy, click here.
Until next time, happy watershaping to you!