Case 17

South Mountain

Spring 1967

Investigator: Wadsworth

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A youth reported that a large, glowing object approached his car and accompanied it more than twenty miles. He described apparent electromagnetic effects on his automobile. Investigation revealed neither a natural explanation to account for the sighting, nor sufficient evidence to sustain an unconventional hypothesis.

Other reported sightings in the area were investigated without conclusive results.


The Primary Sighting

On a night in the spring of 1967 an 18 year-old high school boy (Witness I) was returning from a first-aid class in town to his parents' home, a general store. He reported that shortly after 11:00 p.m., when he was three miles west of the town, he noticed an object high in the sky directly ahead of him. He compared its apparent size and brightness to an ordinary incandescent light bulb seen at about twenty feet, or a slow-moving ball of fire. As he continued, the object descended at an angle toward his left, closed on his automobile, and accompanied it at a distance and elevation he estimated at one hundred feet each. He estimated the dimensions of the object as approximately 30 by 100 feet. It was shaped like an inverted bowl, flat on the bottom and arched on top. No surface features were visible, only an overall glow that was blue at the top and blended gradually through cream color and orange to bright red at the bottom. At times he noticed a


white vapor associated with the object. The only other feature he noted was a periodic on-off manifestation of the glow.

The witness also reported a sensation of intense heat coming from the object, such that he began perspiring profusely even with the car windows down. At this same time, the automobile engine began to sputter and miss, the radio and headlights went out, the ammeter indicated "discharge," and shortly afterward the temperature light indicated "hot."

To see the road, he used a battery-powered spotlight that was independent of the car battery. It continued to function normally. He drove as rapidly as possible (50-60 mph) under the adverse conditions, and was paced the entire twenty-odd miles to his home. As he approached the family store, the object moved off ahead of him for the first time and stopped above the store as if to wait for him. As he turned in, the object blacked out and vanished into the darkness.

The witness reported that after the incident his car never recovered. Its condition worsened continually until it was beyond repair.


Wadsworth investigated this and other reports in the area, Spring 1967. Although no unequivocal corroborating evidence was uncovered, testimony from a game warden who is regarded as highly reliable by area residents, provided possible corroboration. He reported having seen a round, reddish object in the sky a little later on the same evening. He was travelling the same stretch of the road that was involved in the sighting already described. The object he saw was so distant that its identity with the other is uncertain.

Witness' automobile was monitored for high-energy radiation. Smear samples were analyzed for alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Alpha and beta were at normal background levels, and gamma was a trace above; this result may relate to the presence of uranium deposits in the vicinity. The magnetization pattern of the automobile body was checked against a control auto and found to be normal.


The auto engine was found to be badly out of tune and in generally poor running condition. Unfortunately, it was impossible to determine whether any specific damages resulted from the effects of ordinary wear and tear. Nevertheless, the witness stated that his car was in good running condition before the incident.

The route on which the sighting occurred was inspected under both day and night conditions. No physical evidence was found that could be related to the sighting; however, terrain and highway features were consistent with the witness' account.

Additional Sightings.

After the initial report, additional sightings were reported in the area. Many of these were of marginal quality and insufficiently detailed to warrant further investigation. In a few cases, followup attempts were made. Most of the witnesses were Indians, who were difficult to locate because they live in remote places, and were extremely difficult to interview once found because they speak little English and are not familiar with such a procedure. It was thus almost impossible to obtain more than the barest details.

The most useful materials obtained from these witnesses were their sketches of the objects they reported having seen. These sketches show a considerable range of variation, suggesting several types of objects. It should be noted that the Navajo appear to be unsophisticated as to UFOs. That is, they are less likely than a member of the general population to know what an UFO is reported to look like. Also, these reports cannot be assessed in terms of the same psychosocial dynamics that are appropriate to most UFO reports.

Reported loss of (sic) UFO-caused power failures were checked with an official of the local Power Association. He stated that nothing out of the ordinary had been reported to him. In one case, an Indian witness reported loss of power at his cabin when an UFO landed nearby.

Available Details of Additional Sightings.

(1) Evening of the first sighting, 9:00 p.m., Duration 2 min., two witnesses.


Witnesses 2 & 3

Witness Drawings

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(2) Following evening, 9:00 p.m., one witness.

Object appeared to be 100 to 150 yards away. It was a reddish-white light, the apparent size of a car. There were lighted windows all around the edge. Fire coming from the bottom of the object left a trail; however, it left no evidence on the ground. The witness stopped his car and shut off his lights. When his lights went out, so did the lights of the object. It did not reappear.

Witnesse 4

Witness Drawing

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(3) 14 da. after original sighting, 3:00-3:30 a.m., duration 2 minutes, one witness, estimated altitude, 150 feet; estimated size, 20 feet long; weather clear.

Object had blue lights the color of a welding torch in a band around center. It was reddish at the bottom. It moved up and out, vanishing in the distance.

Witness 5

Witness Drawings

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(4) 15 da. after original sighting, 11:20 p.m., duration 20 minutes. One witness.

Witness was on duty as hoistman at the mine at time of sighting. Object approached the mine, hovered nearby, then departed rapidly at an upward angle. He reported that the incident so scared him that he was still shaking when he went home.

Witness 6

Witness Drawing

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(5) 17 da. after original sighting, 9:S8 p.m., duration 5 minutes, three witnesses including witness VI above.

Witness VI said the object looked very much like the one he had seen two nights previously.

Witnesses 6-7-8

Witness Drawing

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(6) Spring, 1967, night, duration 6 min. Two witnesses (IX and X).

Witness IX was in his cabin when the lights went out. He put on his miner's light, went out to investigate, and saw an object on the ground near his cabin. He then went inside to get a rifle. When he came out again, he saw the object departing into the distance. The cabin lights came back on after the object had left.

Witness 9

Witness Drawing

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The above list is by no means inclusive of the sightings reported in the area. For example, the mother of the witness I reported two sightings of marginal quality. There were numerous others; but the investigation began three weeks after the primary sighting, and the signal-to-noise ratio was poor.


On the basis of available evidence, it is impossible to say whether or not the event reported is real.