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Prankster burns worker with spinach

Injuries keep employee from returning to work
By: Lien Hoang, The Press Tribune
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Hot spinach became a harmful weapon Friday night when a prankster reportedly threw the dish at a man who served it from a drive-through window. David Almas, 21, now has second- and third-degree burns and red patches that look swollen as if infected on the left side of his face, neck and ear. He was working around 9 p.m. at Boston Market, 5003 Foothills Blvd., when four teenagers rolled up in a green 1980s model Honda Civic, Roseville police said. They ordered spinach. “I heard, ‘Fire in the hole!’ and the next thing I know I had creamed spinach all over my ear,” Almas, of Carmichael, said. The exclamation refers to an Internet trend in which people videotape themselves chucking food at drive-through servers. Friday’s incident might be the first ‘Fire in the Hole’ reported to local police. “We haven’t seen that here in Roseville yet,” police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther said. Almas said his first thought was to get the culprit’s license plate, before a coworker reminded him to clean up. “That’s when I remembered, ‘Oh yeah, I have spinach on my face,’” said, Almas, who went to Sutter Roseville Medical Center for treatment. He is now on painkillers and unable to return to work until his sores close up. A nurse told him his ear would probably return to normal, though scars would remain. Almas, an artist working toward a technical theater major at American River College, said the blisters only hurt when he cleans them. “It hurt, I’m not gonna lie to you,” he said of the initial encounter. “But I handle pain well.” The suspects should be made an example of, Almas said, so they don’t take the offense lightly. But he expressed personal conflict at seeing a prank punished. “I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, they probably didn’t realize how hot it was,” he said of the 180-degree-Fahrenheit spinach. At the same intersection where the crime occurred, an Original Pete’s employee expressed shock at the practical joke gone too far. “How terrible!” Michelle Ruiz said when the Press Tribune told her what happened. “It’s hard enough to do your job as it is, and then something like that happens.” The driver of the vehicle was described as white, in his late teens, 5 feet 9 inches, 150 pounds, with short, spiked blond hair. He was wearing a blue and gray plaid shirt. A white female juvenile sat in the front passenger seat, and two male juveniles sat in back, police said. The main suspect would likely be charged with battery causing great bodily injury, a felony that could involve prison time, Gunther said. Anyone with information is asked to call Roseville Crime Stoppers at (916) 783-7867. Callers may remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward. Lien Hoang can be reached at lienh@goldcountrymedia.com.