It's a Christmas miracle.
Seven-year-old Denise Carman was at the Alton Square Mall (search) in suburban St. Louis Saturday afternoon and wanted to see Santa Claus.
From the top of a second-floor escalator, the Belleville, Ill., girl peered over the railing to see if the jolly old man with the white beard was at his post down in the atrium.
"I was trying to look over, look like this and try to see if Santa Claus was there, because he wasn't in his sleigh," she told KSDK-TV of St. Louis.
That's when her coat caught on the escalator railing, which yanked her over the side and tossed her out into empty space 30 feet above the ground.
"I turned around and saw her dangling," Denise's mother, Gina Boyer, told the Belleville News-Democrat.
Denise fell onto a Christmas tree, which bounced her into a pile of presents right in the middle of the holiday display.'
"And then I flipped and then I bounced off something and then I fell down on the boxes," she told the TV station. "And if I didn't fall down on the boxes, I would have died."
Denise suffered a broken right arm, a cut on her chin and some bruises. Knocked out by the fall, she woke up to find a crowd gathered around her.
"It was a miracle," Boyer told the newspaper.
The little girl was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital in Alton, Ill., then moved to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis. She was home by midnight.
Her mother said Denise vows never to ride an escalator again.
"It just frightened her; I think she'll be all right after a while," Boyer told the News-Democrat. "I didn't think escalators were that dangerous."
NEWINGTON, Conn. (AP) — A half-naked trucker driving the wrong way on the Berlin Turnpike (search) early Sunday took police on a chase through three towns and hit a cruiser before he was apprehended, police said.
Steven Reed, 44, of Portland, Maine, was spotted driving his tractor cab south in the northbound lanes about 5 a.m.
As police from surrounding towns tried to stop the truck, the driver pulled into a parking lot in West Hartford, turned the vehicle around and rammed a Newington police car on his way out. The officer was not injured.
The truck continued back into Newington, where it struck a median and stopped.
Police said Reed, who was not wearing pants, jumped from the cab and was apprehended.
He was charged with numerous violations including reckless driving, engaging police in pursuit and driving under the influence.
Reed was being held on $100,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned in New Britain Superior Court on Monday.
— Thanks to Out There reader Geoffrey H.
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — An Australian brewing company is offering six cases of beer to anyone who returns a statue of the baby Jesus stolen from a nativity scene last week.
The South Australian Brewing Company (search) offered the reward after thieves swiped the statue from the company's traditional nativity display earlier this week.
Managing Director Mark Powell said security footage showed a man scaling a fence and lifting the baby Jesus from his manger.
"We are very concerned about the well-being of baby Jesus and we are calling for his swift and safe return," Powell said.
A reward of six cases of beer will be given to anyone who returns the statue, he said.
"That said, you would have thought that the incentive of a guaranteed exit through the right door after purgatory would be enough of an incentive in itself," Powell said.
Slide, Don't Push
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Three hooded bandits in eastern Australia bungled a robbery when they apparently mistook a restaurant's sliding door for a swinging one, police said Monday.
About 20 diners at Gabby's seafood restaurant in the coastal town of Gerringong watched as the trio repeatedly tried to kick the glass door open Saturday night, but they failed to enter and then led in a stolen car.
Restaurant owner Greg Moore said the door was unlocked — and clearly marked "slide."
These might not have been your average criminals, police investigator Jamie Williams warned.
"They're probably more dangerous because they're dumb," Williams said.
LONDON (AP) — A veteran criminal received the longest prison sentence of his career Monday, after being caught because of the dandruff he had left behind at the scene of an armed robbery.
Using a DNA profiling method, investigators identified Andrew Pearson as a suspect by examining 25 flakes of dandruff found in a stocking he had worn as a mask during the robbery 11 years ago.
Pearson's two accomplices in the crime remain at large.
Andrew Pearson, now 40, and the two other men escaped with $70,630 in cash after raiding a caravan (car trailer) company in the northeastern city of Hull in June 1993.
Pearson — who had 76 pervious convictions for crimes such as burglary, assault and robbery — was only arrested in June for the caravan crime after the relatively new DNA procedure matched his dandruff with a swab of his saliva.
Using that evidence, a jury needed only 75 minutes Monday to convict Pearson of robbery and possession of a firearm. Judge Michael Murphy then sentenced him to 12 years for the robbery and a consecutive three years for possessing a firearm.
During the crime, Pearson and his accomplices — armed with two guns and a baseball bat — held five staff members at the caravan company, one of whom was wounded by a gunshot.
The criminals fled the scene in a car that was later abandoned nearby. Part of the stocking Pearson had used as a mask was found by police, who removed the dandruff and kept it as evidence.
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Two college students returned a lost purse to its owner, not knowing the handbag contained her life savings of $43,000.
Derek Hepner and Adam Simanton spotted the purse lying in the gutter of a Casper street Monday as they drove past it.
Stopping to examine the bag, they pulled out a wallet and an Arizona driver's license and immediately took the purse to police.
What they didn't see was an envelope containing $43,000 in cash that was the owner's life savings, police Sgt. Larry Baker said.
The owner had been traveling through Casper and apparently misplaced her purse during a stop, police said.
The woman phoned Hepner on Thursday to inform him of a $200 reward for the two Casper College students. Hepner is studying criminal justice, and Simanton plans to be a lawyer.
"I can't believe we had that much money in our possession and didn't even know it," Simanton said.
Compiled by FOXNews.com's Paul Wagenseil.
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