At around 11:30pm on 26th March 2003, a bright fireball was seen and heard in Chicago. Moments later, chunks of stony meteorites began falling over the town of Park Forest, Illinois, peppering the area with space rocks ranging from the size of a pea, up to larger masses of several kilograms. A few days later, I arrived in Park Forest to hunt for and to buy a few meteorites!
Several homes were hit, including that belonging to Noe Garza, Indiana Street, Park Forest......Noe's 14 year old son Robert was fast asleep in his bedroom when a ~2.6kg (exact weight not yet calculated) meteorite narrowly missed him. It blasted through the roof, broke into two main pieces when it hit and smashed a 2x4 wooden support joist in the attic, made three holes in the bedroom ceiling, smashed a window blind, smashed the glass window (one fragment shot right out of the window...see 178.3g listing below), caused a hefty dent in the metal window sill, bounced on the floor and completely smashed both mirror-fronted wardrobe doors. The damage was incredible, but it soon became clear that Robert Garza was very lucky to be alive, as the meteorite had missed hitting him by no more than 2 or 3 feet!! Suppose what would have happened if Robert had positioned his bed against any other wall of his bedroom?? There was only one "safe" wall in the entire bedroom, as this meteorite took out the large glass pane, window blind and window sill of the 1st wall, bounced on the floor next to the 2nd wall, and flew up to smash the mirror doors on the 3rd wall....luckily, Robert had his bed sited against the relatively un-scathed 4th wall.
The Park Forest
fall is proving to be the most interesting to date, at least as
far as incredible stories relating to what was hit and the
witness testimonies are concerned. We have several Park Forest
meteorites for sale on this page, including small & large
fragments of what has become known as The Garza Stone.....all
"house-smashers" carry amazing stories, but with three
penetration holes and the fact that young Robert was so lucky not
to have been injured (or worse), the Garza Stone will be
particularly remembered above all others.
The ABC 7 Chicago website, showing a picture of the two largest Garza masses.
Park Forest Individual
Fresh, fusion crusted 294.5g individual.
A Park Forest resident noticed this stone lying on the driveway beside her car, the morning after the Park Forest meteorite fall....although, at that time of the morning as she left for work, she had not yet heard anything about the meteorites. Arriving at her work, she soon heard all of the meteorite news of the previous night and realised that the odd-looking stone lying in her driveway was probably a meteorite! She played it very cool though and stayed at work to finish her shift......luckily for her, the meteorite was still there when she returned home!!
Park Forest............click on the following pictures for a
|This is me, Robert Haag and Marvin Kilgore, in the parking lot nextdoor to the fire station which took a direct hit. Many more meteorites were found in the immediate area, so this parking lot became known as "ground zero".|
|Steve Witt and I, with
cameraman Robert Haag, taking a few snapshots in the Park
Forest parking lot.
It was COLD out there!
|Noe Garza and I in the kitchen of the Garza home, negotiating a price deal for the "Garza Stone" fragments. It was tough going and Noe was in deep thought here while considering my offer.....ok, the picture was staged, but Noe certainly drove a hard bargain!|
|Noe Garza, Robert Garza and I in the bedroom where young Robert almost got squished by a falling meteorite.|
|The three holes in the ceiling.|
|The knocked-out painted plaster ceiling pieces, and some of the plasterboard behind.|
|The impact point on the 12 inch, wooden 2x4 support beam in the attic......|
|.....and the resulting damage!|
|Noe Garza with officers of Park Forest police station. Officer Doyle and colleague were the first on the scene after receiving the midnight report of "someone just threw a rock through my roof!!". The officers at Park Forest station were great guys....very helpful indeed, and gave me all the time I needed, despite paying them a total of 3 long visits!|
|The two largest masses of the Garza Stone were locked up in the Evidence Room for safe-keeping. Notice how the "Offense" is described as "Act of God".|
|We didn't have much time to hunt, but eventually managed to find a space between torrential rain showers and the snow to check out the strewnfield. Here, Professor Paul Sipiera and I have just investigated and dug out a small 4 inch hole found in the grass between the road and the sidewalk. After the rains, everything was gloopy and the first few inches down the hole were liquid mud. In this picture, I had just managed to break the suction of the rock in the wet mud and lift it free from a depth of about 8 inches.|
|A close-up on the muddy meteorite|
|After cleaning, we had a beautifully fusion crusted individual, weighing around 300 - 350g (no digital scales were available).|
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Wynd, Milton of Balgonie, Fife. KY7 6PY United Kingdom
Please - no requests to authenticate old rock and stone finds
I've heard the "My grandad saw it fall in a field and gave it to me!" story (and all variations) a zillion times
© Rob Elliott