That Time An Alabama Woman Was Struck By A Meteorite


It certainly wasn't the ideal way to be woken up.
Micrograph of the Sylacauga meteorite fragment.Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

It was 2:45 p.m. on November 30, 1954. Ann Hodges was napping cozily on her couch. A flash of light caught the attention of onlookers from Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Her neighbors reported a streak of red light trailing smoke.

And then, within moments, Hodges would be quite rudely awakened by an 8.5-pound rock crashing through her Alabama home's roof at 200 miles per hour. The extraterrestrial hunk of minerals would crash into her radio console before bouncing off and hitting her in the abdomen. Ann Hodges would become the only known human to be struck by a meteorite.

"You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time," Michael Reynolds, a Florida State College astronomer told National Geographic.

Meteorites are not exactly rare, and space rocks of various sizes fall to the earth all the time. But any direct impacts on humans are. Part of the reason is a result of Earth's protective atmosphere, which burns up most meteorites before they reach the ground.

And so, Hodges' experience was exceedingly unique, though she was markedly less enthused about the large bruise this 4.5-billion-year-old rock gave her.

Thankfully, her injuries were minor, and the experience quickly became a source of pride for her.

In response to a custody battle with her landlady over the meteorite fragment, Ann Hodges had this to say: "Suing is the only way she’ll ever get it. I think God intended it for me. After all, it hit me!”

Ultimately, the Hodges family would gain complete ownership of the meteorite, which they kept in their home with them for a time (even using it as a doorstop for a while). The family would eventually donate the fragment to the Alabama Museum of Natural History.

At least two other fragments of the Sylacauga Meteorite (also sometimes dubbed the Hodges Meteorite) have been found, and one sizable fragment can be found at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

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