On This Day In History: Hodges Meteorite Crashes Through A Roof And Hits A Woman – On Nov 30, 1954

the Sylacauga meteorite fell in Oak Grove, Alabama, near Sylacauga.

This mostly unusual event took place at 13:46 local time and received worldwide publicity, because it was the only documented case in the Western Hemisphere of a human being hit by a rock from space.

The meteorite is commonly called the Hodges meteorite because a fragment of it struck Ann Elizabeth Fowler Hodges (1920–1972). The 34-year-old woman was badly bruised on one side of her body but able to walk.

The grapefruit-sized fragment crashed through the roof of a frame house, bounced off a large wooden console radio, and hit Hodges while she napped on a couch. The meteor made a fireball visible from three states as it streaked through the atmosphere, even though it fell early in the afternoon. There were also indications of an air blast, as witnesses described hearing “explosions or loud booms”.

Upon the entry into the atmosphere, the Sylacauga meteorite fragmented into at least 3 pieces.

The Sylacauga police confiscated the meteorite and turned it over to the United States Air Force. Both the Hodgeses and their landlord, Bertie Guy, claimed the rock, Guy’s claim being that it had fallen on her property. There were offers of up to $5,000 for the meteorite. The Hodgeses and Bertie Guy settled, with the Hodgeses paying $500 for the rock. However, by the time it was returned to the Hodgeses, over a year later, public attention had diminished, and they were unable to then find a buyer.

The Hodgeses donated it to the Alabama Museum of Natural History in 1956.

The day after the fall, local farmer Julius McKinney came upon the second-largest fragment from the same meteorite. An Indianapolis-based lawyer purchased it for the Smithsonian Institution. The McKinney family was able to use the money to purchase a car and a house.

A third fragment is believed to have impacted somewhere near Childersburg (a few km north-west of Oak Grove).

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