http://www.thedailyworld.com/daily/2003/Jul-15-Tue-2003/news/news1.html Rocks in Elma may be remains of a meteor By Levi Pulkkinen Daily World (Washington) July 15, 2003 ELMA - Elma High School Senior Brian Reed was bored, just taking a night drive through Elma's dark, deserted streets. Closing on 1 a.m., he, his cousin Scott Reed and fellow Elma Senior Dan Raney hadn't found any more excitement after midnight than before it. Then, Reed says, a meteor tore open the night sky. "We were just driving down the road, and I just saw this big, bright flash," the 18 - year - old said. "At first, I thought it was a shooting star or a falling star or something. "It looked like fireworks, but it had a tail about six or seven - feet long." Reed said the falling rock appeared to break apart as it approached the earth, exploding before impact. The young men decided to investigate, and headed from the freeway toward Elma High School, where they believed the fragments struck. "We went out there and started looking around, and we saw a bunch of divot holes in the sand of the track out there," Reed said. "We looked for a while, then we went and got a couple of cops." Raney, 17, said he tried to pick up a piece of the still - hot rock and burned his hand. Soon police joined the young men's investigation, examining the pock - marked asphalt and dinged ground. Toby Smith, a University of Washington astronomy lecturer and meteorite researcher, said Reed's description of events matches with the stories told by others who have seen falling meteors. "It sort of has the hallmarks of being a classic meteorite fall," Smith said. "It's actually very rare (to see a meteor strike the earth), but, as the population density grows, we get more people reporting seeing this type of thing. "These types of meteorite fall are reported about once or twice a year." After flagging down a Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Deputy, Reed called his mother and contacted the Elma Police Department. Working a graveyard shift, Elma Officer Travis Bealert took the call. According to Elma Police sources, the officer arrived at the scene to find the young men searching for pieces of rock. After examining the site himself, Bealert apparently continued on his patrol. Bealert's shift ended early Tuesday and attempts to contact him were unsuccessful. Though more than 20,000 tons of material strike the earth's atmosphere annually, Smith said nearly all of it burns up before it strikes the ground. Very rarely is material that actually strikes the earth actually seen. If the Elma meteorites are extraterrestrial, Smith said he believes it may be the first meteor strike witnessed in Washington's history. Six other meteorites have been recovered in Washington. Smith said a similar strike was witnessed near a Chicago suburb last year. "These things are seen to happen," he said. "Meteorites are very, very rare things, but a lot of them fall." The astronomer said meteors passing through the earth's atmosphere usually burn and deform, leaving a dark, glassy skin on the rock. "It really looks like a burnt crust. That's usually a dead giveaway," Smith said. "If they have the crusts on them, there's a very good possibility that these could be meteorites." Until the rock has been examined, however, Smith said it is difficult to be certain of its origin. But, how do three young men of Elma top off their out - of - this - world night? Snacks, of course. "We went down to the store behind the bowling alley ... and got something to eat," Reed said. "We were still pretty excited."
Apparent Meteorite Lands In Elma High School Lot KOMO 4 News (Washington) July 16, 2003 ELMA - Talk about something you don't see every day. Police and local astronomers alike are studying what appears to be remnants of a meteorite strike in Elma. Several witnesses e-mailed KOMO 4 News to say they saw a bright greenish-reddish fireball streak across the sky around 1 a.m. Tuesday. Two Elma High School seniors told the Daily World of Aberdeen they saw the fireball streak through the sky, then explode just before it struck the ground near the high school. They rushed to the high school to see what they could find, only to discover several tiny craters filled with the still-hot rocks. Since then, dozens of people have been scouring the field looking for the small rock fragments. Tests will have to be done to prove it was part of a small asteroid or comet but early appearances seem to indicate it was indeed a wayward space rock. The Daily World says it could be the first time a meteor strike has been witnessed in Washington's history.
http://www.thedailyworld.com/daily/2003/Jul-17-Thu-2003/news/news1.html Elma has gone meteor crazy By Levi Pulkkinen The Daily World (Washington) July 17, 2003 ELMA - A meteorite is a seductive thing. It draws people towards it, pulls the obsessed to distant corners of the world. Meteorites have drawn brothers Adam and Greg Hupe from their home in Renton to Africa and Europe. Tuesday they were drawn to Elma to examine the rocks three young men found early Tuesday morning after seeing something they believe to be a meteor heading toward the Elma High School athletic fields. Unfortunately for Elma residents who've caught meteorite fever, the Hupe brothers had little good news. "It doesn't look good at this point, but that doesn't mean you won't find something," Adam Hupe told the three young men. Hupe said he will pass the rocks on to University of Washington professor Tony Irving, a former research scientist with the NASA who often works with the brothers, for further testing. He doesn't, however, hold out much hope that the small, black rocks are of extra - terrestrial origin. Speaking with the three might - be witnesses, the Hupes said nothing to the young men to cast doubt on what the teens say they saw, only that the rocks they believed to be meteoritic were not. It was a welcome change for Elma Senior Brian Reed, who said he feels many onlookers believe he and his friends are "full of it." To the critics and cameras, Brian Reed, his cousin Scott Reed and friend Dan Raney could do little but repeat their mantra - "We know what we seen." While driving on Vance Creek Road just after 12 a.m. Tuesday, the three bored teen - agers saw a fireball with a tail streaking out of the sky followed by a flash. It looked like it was headed toward the Elma track and the young men went for a look. Once there, they say they examined the apparently pock - marked shotput pit with a tiny, squeezable flashlight. They found glassy black rocks they thought were space rock. Excited, Brian called his mother, then the police for assistance. Now, it appears those rocks were not out of this world, but the Hupes encouraged the young men and other would - be meteorite hounds to keep searching. The area where the young men grabbed what they thought were meteorites was swarming with children and adults from all over the Harbor. They sifted through the pea - gravel and combed the grass looking for the extraordinary. The brothers showed the searchers sample meteorites from other expeditions, hoping to give locals a better picture of their quarry. It's the same routine they went through last March, when a meteorite came down in Chicago's southside neighborhood. Hours after hearing about the strike, Adam was on a plane on his way to Chicago. A meteorite had smashed through residents' homes, breaking windows and piercing roofs. Once on the lookout, locals started bringing in everything from gravel to large chunks of asphalt. "We went to Chicago and about 90 percent of the rocks people brought to us weren't meteorites," he said. "But once we showed people what real meteorites look like, they started bringing them in. "That's what we're here for, to show people what to look for." Greg Hupe said he and his brother do similar "show - and - tell" demonstrations when they travel to Saharan Africa, training nomadic Bedouin to search for the world's oldest rocks. Dan Raney said the Hupes impressed him a great deal. "Those guys are cool," Elma Senior Dan Raney said. "They're just awesome, really laid back." After spending hours talking about treasure hunting with them, the Hupe brothers gave the three young men small meteorites. Their cores sparked with elemental iron, the matte black rocks have a strangeness about them. Taking the thumb - size meteorites, the young men carefully pocket them only a little less entranced than when they saw what they saw two nights before.