By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Allison Babka
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Ray Downs
At that moment, a mere half-mile from Officer Barton, a resident of Summerfield was also observing the aeronautical phenomenon. Johnny Doss, 43, had undergone heart surgery in July. He still wasn't back on the job as an environmental-waste hauler, and he wasn't sleeping well. His wife, Cindy, an EMS coordinator in Lebanon, has a police radio that the couple keeps tuned to police and fire chatter. Sometimes Johnny passed the hours listening in. That morning, he heard the report of the UFO and listened to Officer Barton's live account through the crackle and static that the object was "just east of Summerfield and it keeps changing colors." Doss thought he might just walk outside and see for himself. The thing -- "way larger than an airliner, with several bright lights" -- had already passed over his home. He says he stood out in his yard watching it for a few minutes, until the low-flying, westward-heading craft receded behind some trees at the edge of town. When he came back into the bedroom, Cindy woke up. "I asked him what he'd been doing," Cindy says, "and he answered, 'I was outside looking at the UFO.'"
Meanwhile, on Route 50 near a hummock called Haas' Hill, Officer Barton stood outside his patrol car, watching whatever it was move on. "It started going away from me again rather slowly, almost like a hovering or a floating, and then when it turned away from me, it didn't bank like an aircraft or a helicopter. It was almost like a car going around a curve, just a flat turn. Then it seemed to accelerate fairly rapidly, and I reached back in the car, picked up the radio, told St. Clair County what I was seeing, and the next thing I know it looked to be over Shiloh, about seven miles away. I told CenCom (the St. Clair County police dispatcher), 'If you have one of those Shiloh officers look up now, they should see it.'"
"Yeah, I think I'm seeing it," Officer Dave Martin of the Shiloh Police Department told the CenCom dispatcher over in Belleville. "It's big; it looks like an arrowhead; it's got three bright lights shining downward and small flashing red lights between the bright lights. No markings, just plain. I couldn't tell you what it is," he offered, "'cause I don't know."
When Millstadt police officer Craig Stevens, working the graveyard shift, heard the unfolding accounts on the radio that morning, he thought he might as well go see what was up. Whatever it was seemed to be on a flight path toward Millstadt. "I went over to the east end of town and sat in a car-wash parking lot and didn't see anything," he remembers, "so I went over on the north end of town to Liederkranz Park, where there's a big open field and it was a lot darker. I was sitting there seeing blinking lights from airplanes, and I thought that's all they saw. I turn around, and I was, like, wow! This thing was only 500-1,000 feet off the ground, and it was huge."
Stevens says the craft was shaped like a "fat arrowhead, about 18-20 feet thick, with three white lights in back and a red light at the bottom." Soundless, it passed almost directly overhead. "It was a rush," he says. "First thing that popped in my head: 'Get the Polaroid.' I ran to the trunk, grabbed the Polaroid, snapped the picture." Unfortunately, Polaroids aren't made for shooting distant objects at night, plus the cold temperatures had retarded the development chemistry. Nothing truly discernible was on the developed print, just some faint lights.
By the time the thing appeared in Dupo, a small town along Route 3 some eight miles south of the Poplar Street Bridge, it had been followed sporadically for nearly an hour over a 60-mile-long northeast-to-southwest flight path that, drawn on a map, looks like a fishhook. Dupo police officer Matt Jany saw the UFO within minutes after being alerted by the Millstadt PD, though only from afar, through binoculars. Still, his description corroborates the others'. The object "wasn't like a normal aircraft," Jany remarks. "It was real wide and real long and taller in the middle." It had "lots of lights on it, white lights at the extremes, red lights in the middle. There may have been some blue in there, too." When he first viewed it, the craft was "heading north, and it wasn't going very fast." After only a few minutes, however, it changed course and headed east, back toward Millstadt or Cahokia.
Some two hours after Jany watched the object disappear from sight, a 50-year-old English teacher spotted the UFO while driving to work. Where the object had been in the interim and why no one else saw it during that time is another mystery. Steven Wonnacott's workday commute is a routine one: Each morning he leaves home at 6:45 and follows Lake Drive west through Belleville to East St. Louis High School. The thoroughfare eventually crosses over I-255, he explains, "and on the west side of that overpass there's Frank Holton State Park and quite a vista of the southwest sky. That's where I first noticed it. At first I thought it was airplane from Parks (Airport, in Cahokia), but it looked far too big for an airplane and it had no navigational lights." Dawn was breaking, and Wonnacott, "arrested" by the unusual sight, slowed down as much as he could to watch it longer. "As the sun came up, I could see it was an arrowhead shape," he says, "and it had a couple of really bright lights with many other smaller lights around it. It looked to me to be motionless, but it was hard to judge, since I was moving."