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July 30, 1998

Pedestrian Stowaways leader dead
Lars Coppleston, 29, led notorious group that latched onto passers-by

CAMBRIDGE — "I would sooner gun a horse-saw." Those were the sad and confusing final words of Lars Coppleston, found dead in his prison cell early Tuesday morning. Coppleston was 29.

Before his recent detainment, Coppleston was the notorious leader of the Pedestrian Stowaways, a cult-like group of perfectly healthy 20-somethings who roamed Harvard Square latching onto passersby who would unknowingly carry them for blocks at a time. pedestrian.jpg (23241 bytes)

The group’s credo read "We won’t walk, We won’t move, We are immobile by choice, Carry us, Carry us."

For months the Pedestrian Stowaways stalked Cambridge unchecked. One local resident described her experience in this police report:

"I was walking out of the Janus Theater after seeing a movie. I noticed that my feet were starting to hurt, as if there was a great deal of pressure pushing down on them. Next, my back began to hurt, which I dismissed as water retention.

"Then I felt something shift up around the back of my neck. As I reached behind my head my hand brushed across what felt like a goatee and pierced septum. These too I dismissed as water retention. It wasn’t until I heard a voice suggest a shortcut to Inman Square that I screamed, realizing that I had walked half a mile with a human on my back!"

Incidents such as this prompted Cambridge police to take action, rounding up all the Stowaways they could find and incarcerating them. Unfortunately, many fetuses were mistaken for stowaways and taken to jail as well.

At Coppleston’s trial he chose to represent himself but lost the case after climbing on the back of the judge during a court recess. Small riots broke out but were easy to control because the Stowaways don’t like to get up. Coppleston was sentenced to an evening in jail and one afternoon of probation.

"Apparently that was too much for him," said prison psychologist Daniel Agathon. "Coppleston left a note at the scene of his suicide that read, ‘I will have died so that my people will not have to take a cab or any other form of transportation.’"

Officer Rodney Pendlehurst found the body. "I knew it was suicide immediately," he said in his written report. "He actually stabbed himself in the heart with his own finger. I examined him and found his right index finger to be crudely sharpened."

Services were held last Sunday at the Cambridge Church. 15,000 Pedestrian Stowaways RSVPed, but there weren’t enough people to carry them, so they didn’t go. Per his last will and testament, Coppleston was cremated, stuffed into a fanny pack and given to Florence Griffith Joyner, so that she may, in Coppleston’s words, "run across the world all the way to China, then to Australia, then to England and then back to Australia. Once there, I want Flo Jo to sprinkle my remains on the kangaroos and any other marsupial she sees. For they have flesh pockets that are perfect for traveling."

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