The first modern instance of a meteorite striking a human being occurs at Sylacauga, Alabama, when a meteorite crashes through the roof of a house and into a living room, bounces off a radio, and strikes a woman on the hip. The victim, Mrs. Elizabeth Hodges, was sleeping on a couch at the time of impact. The space rock was a sulfide meteorite weighing 8.5 pounds and measuring seven inches in length. Mrs. Hodges was not permanently injured but suffered a nasty bruise along her hip and leg.
Ancient Chinese records tell of people being injured or killed by falling meteorites, but the Sylacauga meteorite was the first modern record of this type of human injury. In 1911, a dog in Egypt was killed by the Nakhla meteorite.
How a Meteorite Ruined an Alabama Woman's Afternoon 65 Years Ago
Sixty-five years ago, a few days after Thanksgiving, Ann Hodges was snuggled up on the sofa in her Alabama home when a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite crashed through the ceiling and struck the left side of her body. Not the best interruption to the holiday season.
The cosmic event, which took place on Nov. 30, 1954, was the first known reported instance of a human being struck by a meteorite and suffering an injury. The softball-size space rock, weighing about 8.5 lbs. (3.8 kilograms), burst through the roof of Hodges' house in Sylacauga at 2:46 p.m. local time, bouncing off a large radio console before striking her and leaving a large, dark bruise.
The meteorite that struck Hodges, who was 31 at the time, turned out to be one-half of a larger rock that split in two as it fell toward Earth. The piece that didn't hit Hodges landed a few miles away and is now in the collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. In 2017, a 10.3-gram piece of the space rock that hit Hodges sold at auction for $7,500.
Before it ended up leaving a serious welt on Hodges' side, people across eastern Alabama say they saw a bright light in the sky. Reports poured in of a reddish light, and some observers even described a fireball that trailed smoke and left an arc of light in the afternoon sky. After Hodges was struck and the meteorite landed, she and her mother, who was home at the time, tried to figure out what had happened.
Dust filled the house after the crash, but as it settled and they spotted the rock and the enormous bruise on Hodges, the two women called the police and fire department.
Now, as a local geologist was called to the scene to verify what the object was, word quickly spread about what happened. However, the event occurred in 1954, and not everyone was convinced that this strange rock was a meteorite. Some thought it could've been debris from a plane crash, and some thought it could have even come from what was then the Soviet Union.
Still, despite a few skeptics, people from all over flocked to Hodges' home to see the woman hit by a space rock, a crowd that Hodges' husband found as he returned from work that night. "We had a little excitement around here today," Ann Hodges told the Associated Press. "I haven&rsquot been able to sleep since I was hit," she said. With all of this commotion around her, Hodges was soon hospitalized, though, despite the massive mark on her side, was not too seriously injured.
"Think of how many people have lived throughout human history," Michael Reynolds, who wrote the book "Falling Stars: A Guide to Meteors and Meteorites," said to National Geographic. "You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time."
Shockingly, Hodges is not the only person to have been hit by a meteorite, but it is still exceptionally rare.
In 2009, a 14-year-old German boy, Gerrit Blank, was hit in the hand by a pea-size meteorite. While he wasn't seriously injured, the rock did leave a scar and gave the boy quite a fright. "When it hit me it knocked me flying and then was still going fast enough to bury itself into the road," Blank told the Telegraph.
Out of This World
Before the meteorite slammed into Ann's living room, people in tiny Sylacauga and across eastern Alabama had reported seeing "a bright reddish light like a Roman candle trailing smoke," according to the Web publication "The Day the Meteorite Fell in Sylacauga," which was produced by the Alabama Museum of Natural History in 2010.
Others saw "a fireball, like a gigantic welding arc," accompanied by tremendous explosions and a brown cloud. (Watch: "Predicting Meteorite Impacts.")
A government geologist working in a nearby quarry was called to the scene and determined the object was a meteorite, but not everyone in town was so sure, according to the museum publication. Many thought a plane had crashed—others suspected the Soviets.
So many people flocked to Hodges's house that when her husband, Eugene Hodges, a utility worker, returned home from work, he had to push gawkers off the porch to get inside.
Ann was so overwhelmed by the crowd that she was transferred to a hospital. With Cold War paranoia running high, the Sylacauga police chief confiscated the black rock and turned it over to the Air Force.
After the Air Force confirmed it was a meteorite, the question then was what to do with it. The public demanded the space rock be returned to Ann, and she agreed.
"I feel like the meteorite is mine," she said, according to the museum. "I think God intended it for me. After all, it hit me!"
60 years ago today, meteorite strikes Alabama woman
SYLACAUGA, Ala. (WHNT) – November 30th marks the 60th anniversary of an extremely unique and rare event in both Alabama and human history. On November 30, 1954 a woman in Sylacauga, Alabama was napping on her couch when a meteorite crashed through the ceiling hitting her in the side.
The meteorite caused a very large bruise, but no serious injuries. The incident did get worldwide publicity and also caused a legal dispute. Hodges and her husband were renting the home, and both the Hodges and the owner of the home fought over the meteorite’s ownership. Hodges finally won and she then donated the meteorite to the Alabama Museum of Natural History at the University of Alabama.
Astronomers believe the meteorite was a fragment of the asteroid 1685 Toro. It broke into three pieces. The portion that hit Hodges is on display at the University of Alabama. A second piece landed in a field and was later donated to the Smithsonian. A third piece was believed to have fallen somewhere near Childersburg, Alabama but was never located.
November 30, 1954: Meteorite Hits Woman Sleeping on Couch!
On November 30, 1954, an incredibly unlikely and rare instance of an object from space striking a living human in the United States occurred, perhaps the only verified occurrence in American history when a grapefruit sized meteorite slammed through the roof of an Alabama house and struck a woman sleeping on her couch. (What a wake up!)
Providing one of the best “It happened to me” stories of all time, the chondrite meteor weighing 5.56 kilograms (over 12 pounds) had created a giant fireball visible from 3 states as it hurtled through the Earth’s atmosphere before crashing through the wooden roof and into the hapless woman. The part that hit the woman was about 8.5 pounds.
Elizabeth Hodges, born in 1920 (died 1972) was struck and injured in her left side, but not seriously hurt. Her good fortune in not being hurt beyond large bruises was due to the space rock going through the roof and smashing a console radio before hitting the woman.
Known as the Sylacauga Meteorite or the Hodges Meteorite, the rock consisted of ordinary chondrite, a common type of meteorite. Oddly enough, Hodges lived in Oak Grove, Alabama, and not in the nearby Sylacauga that gave the meteorite its name.
The Sylacauga police chief confiscated the extra-terrestrial object and turned it over to the US Air Force. Hodges and her landlord, Bertie Gray, both claimed ownership of the meteorite, and eager collectors offered $5000 for it. Hodges paid Gray $500 for the undisputed rights to the meteorite, but interest had waned by this time and no substantial buyers could be found. In 1956 Hodges donated the rock to the Alabama Museum of Natural History, leaving her with only an amazing tale to tell.
Another lucky local man, Julius McKinney, an African-American farmer, found the second biggest part (3.7 pounds) of the meteorite, and sold it to the Smithsonian Institution for enough money to buy a house and car!
Only a few other cases exist of people being hit by meteorites, with a friar in Milan killed by one in 1677. Another known meteor strike occurred in Uganda in 1992 when a boy was hit by a small (3 gram) meteorite, but not injured due to the object being slowed by striking trees first. In Russia in 2013 a meteor blew up in air over Chelyabinsk and injured over 1000 people from flying glass and other debris caused by the explosion, but probably not by any meteor fragments.
Despite the rarity of meteorites striking humans, I would not be terribly shocked if an over-reactive government required people to wear protective helmets when outdoors. Question for students (and subscribers): I would also not be surprised if someone out there today is wearing a helmet for just that reason, or am I being cynical? Tell us your favorite meteorite story in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Stewart, Melissa. National Geographic Readers: Meteors. National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015.
Sylacauga, Alabama Meteorite Strikes Woman 55 years ago- other News 30NOV09
WELT ONLINE - Berlin,Germany
Trotz dieses Meteoritenfalls wird die Wahrscheinlichkeit, von einem Meteoriten getroffen oder verletzt zu werden, zumeist als äußerst niedrig eingestuft. .
Polskie Radio - Warszawa,Mazowieckie,Poland
W 1996 roku wielką międzynarodową dyskusję spowodowała meteoryt ALH 84001 – najprawdopodobnie najlepiej zbadany fragment skały w historii. .
Remembering a first
The Daily Home Sat, 28 Nov 2009 20:48 PM PST
Fifty-five years ago, on Nov. 30, 1954, the first and only meteorite to strike a human hit Ann Hodges while she was taking a nap on her couch in her home in Oak Grove, just outside Sylacauga.
The Hodges meteorite strike. An 8.5-pound meteorite crashed into the Sylacauga home of Ann Hodges on Nov. 30, 1954, hitting her hip as she napped on her .
It weighs 25 kilograms and is believed to be the state's second largest stony meteorite. It was removed from alongside a fence on a grazing property about .
Hodges Meteorite Strike (Sylacauga Aerolite)Hodges Meteorite Strike On November 30, 1954, a meteorite crashed through the roof of a home in a then-unincorporated area near Sylacauga, Talladega County, striking resident Ann E. Hodges (1923-1972). The area was later incorporated as the town of Oak Grove. Hodges was the first person ever to have been injured by a meteorite, and the event caused a nationwide media sensation and a year-long legal battle. The meteorite, which weighs about eight and one-half pounds, is on permanent display at the Alabama Museum of Natural History at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Walter B. Jones Sylacauga Chief of Police W. D. Ashcraft and Sylacauga mayor Ed Howard responded to the call from the Hodges's residence. They had Ann Hodges examined by physician Moody Jacobs, who determined that although her hip and hand were swollen and painful, there was no serious damage. (He later checked her into the hospital for several days to spare her from all the excitement.) Ashcraft and Howard showed the rock to geologist George Swindel, who was conducting fieldwork in the area. He tentatively identified the object as a meteorite. That evening they turned the meteorite over to officers from Maxwell Field, Montgomery, who took it to Air Force intelligence authorities for analysis. Air Force specialists identified it as a meteorite and sent it to curators at the Smithsonian Institution, who, delighted with their windfall, declined to send it back to Alabama. Not until Alabama congressman Kenneth Roberts intervened was the meteorite finally returned to the state, where it soon became the focus of a highly public legal battle. Hodges Meteorite Display Ann Hodges's physical injuries healed, but she was never able to recover emotionally from her brush with celebrity. She and Hewlett separated in 1964. They both agreed that the emotional impact and disruption caused by the meteorite were contributing factors and said they wished it had never happened. Ann Hodges's health declined and in 1972, after some years as an invalid, she died. She is buried in the cemetery behind Charity Baptist Church in Hazel Green, Madison County.
Meteorite strikes Alabama woman - HISTORY
It was just an ordinary chondrite
fragment the experts said
but it landed on Ann Hodges
nearly knocking her dead
Celestial body 1685 Toro
was traveling outward from the sun
when a meteorite broke away
putting citizens on the run
Breaking into three pieces
when entering Earth’s atmosphere
the largest fragment was
the size of a grapefruit sphere
It was 1954, near Sylacauga
Alabama that the event took place
through the roof and off the radio
came this object from space
It hit Ann Hodges in the thigh
and left a nasty bruise
next thing you know
Ann was worldwide news
Said to be the only verified
victim of a meteorite strike
her 15 minutes of fame was
something she did not like
“A fireball, like a gigantic welding arc”
one witness did claim
Ann suffered a nervous breakdown
and never was the same
It’s called the Hodges Meteorite
in honor of our dear Ann
a monument to her in the
Sylacauga town square now stands
I learned about this historical event on my trip to Sylacauga on April 9, 2021 as part of the Moonshine Mille road rally.
What Happened In 1954 In Alabama Will Leave You Baffled
Imagine for a moment, you’re napping on your couch when suddenly a meteorite comes crashing through the roof and strikes you. Sounds impossible, right? What if I were to tell you that it’s not impossible, and it actually did happen to an Alabama woman in the early 1950s? That’s right. It sure did, and her name was Ann Hodges – the only confirmed person in history to have been hit by a meteorite.
In Sylacauga, on November 30, 1954, while Ann was napping on her couch, a grapefruit-sized black rock came crashing through her ceiling, bounced off her radio, and finally hit her thigh. The result of this contact was a pineapple-shaped bruise. What makes this event rare is the fact that most meteorites crash into the ocean or remote places and not into peoples’ homes.
Before the meteorite crashed into Ann’s living room, several Sylacauga residents had reported seeing a bright reddish light. Some even reported seeing a fireball. A local geologist arrived on the scene shortly after the incident and confirmed the object was indeed a meteorite.
Soon, this event attracted lots of local attention. As crowds of people tried to enter Ann’s home, her husband, Eugene, pushed them aside. Ann was soon transferred to a nearby hospital to be checked out. While all of this was going on, the Sylacauga police chief took the meteorite and turned it over to the Air Force. Ann wanted it back, but there was a problem. Because Ann and Eugene were renting their home, Ann couldn’t claim the meteorite. Everyone agreed that Ann should have it, but her landlady wanted it for herself because it had fallen on her property.
Ann and Eugene’s landlady eventually settled out of court. She gave up the meteorite in exchange for $500. The Hodges donated the meteorite to the Alabama Museum of Natural History in 1956, and it’s still on display today.
Because of the madness this event created, Ann eventually had a nervous breakdown. She didn’t enjoy being in the spotlight, and all of the sudden attention really took a toll on her. Sadly, in 1964, Ann and Eugene separated. And in 1972, at the age of 52, Ann died of kidney failure.
After that eventful November day in 1954, Ann was never the same again.
To view the meteorite and the radio it struck, be sure to check out this video:
To see the display in person, here’s the address:
Alabama Museum of Natural History
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0340
Meteorite strikes Alabama woman - HISTORY
On November 30, 1954, a meteorite crashed through the roof of a home in a then-unincorporated area near Sylacauga, Talladega County, striking resident Ann E. Hodges (1923-1972). The area was later incorporated as the town of Oak Grove. Hodges was the first person ever to have been injured by a meteorite, and the event caused a nationwide media sensation and a year-long legal battle. The meteorite, which weighs about eight and one-half pounds, is on permanent display at the Alabama Museum of Natural History at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Hodges was napping on her living-room couch at mid-day when the meteorite came through the ceiling, hit a console radio, and smashed into her hip. Awakened by the pain and noise, she thought the gas space heater had exploded. When she noticed a grapefruit-sized rock lying on the floor and a ragged hole in the roof, she assumed children were the culprits. Her mother, Ida Franklin, rushed outside and saw only a black cloud in the sky. Alabamians in and around the area saw the event from a different perspective, with many reporting that they had seen a fireball in the sky and heard a tremendous explosion that produced a white or brownish cloud. Most assumed it involved an airplane accident. . .
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I started to comment after reading the excerpt. Glad I clicked the link and read the rest of the story. Any day that I can keep from appearing even dumber than I am is a good day.
And thus the backdrop for today’s Iron Bowl.
(Oh, and this related Public Service Announcement: the state of Alabama will be closed today from approximately 2-6pm local time. Sorry for the inconvenience.)
My husband found a round rock that he has always thought was a meteorite, how can you tell?
Blew my mind when I later learned it had landed so far north. It must have been much further up in the atmosphere than it appeared at the time.
The bolide that I saw was the one that hit the Chevy in 1992 (the Peekskill meteorite). not the Alabama one.
They’re 5X heavier than a regular rock, and black.
Is there any unusual perturbation of the Oort cloud going on right now?
Check the rock types in the vicinity. If the sample doesn’t match any of them, have a qualified geologist take a look. Though be careful of State appropriation schemes.
I was about to comment that the rock should rightfully belong to the woman who was hit by it, then I read that it was the actual owner of the house that suffered financial damage. The court eventually awarded ownership to the woman who was hit.
If one of those strong little shiny “rare earth” magnets doesn’t stick to it, it’s not a meteorite.
Also, if it is porous, or has gas holes like lava, then it isn’t a meteorite (and a magnet won’t stick.)
The exceptions to these simple rules (actually, just the magnet rule) are so rare that experienced meteorite finders never find a non-iron meteorite in their entire careers.
Got one of those nice roadside markers designating the spot a an &ldquoHistoric&rdquo place. Hell, don't laugh. It's a small town and we get our kicks when we can.
So you were right, at least the court agrees with you.
Yep. If they weed out everything that isn't magnetic, they will never "find"/recognize a carbonaceous chondrite.
I remember when Life did a story about this.
That issue is still up in the attic somewhere.
Lucky lady to live after getting hit like that.
Wonder what became of the meteorite.
I tried a magnet, didn’t stick but I have a larger round thing that the magnet did stick to.
I found the larger one on the Yorktown Virginia battle field so I am pretty sure it is a cannon ball.
That's the type of thing that should be placed "on permanent display at the Alabama Museum of Natural History at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa." But that's just my opinion. :-)
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