Getting hit by a falling meteor is far more uncommon than getting struck by lighting. How uncommon you might ask?
There is only one confirmed person in history to have ever been hit by one. And she had the evidence to prove it.
Back in November 1954, Ann Hodges was taking a nap in her Sylacauga, Alabama, home when a rock about 12 inches in circumference came crashing through the ceiling. The meteorite then collided with her thigh, leaving behind a large, conspicuous bruise. Thankfully, it didn’t smash into her head, or the scene would have been much more gruesome.
When word got around about the meteor, the entire town flocked to her home. There were so many people curious to see what happened that she became extremely nervous and had to be taken to the hospital. Because she was a simple country woman, she wasn’t used to all the attention. It made her frenzied.
The incident didn’t end there.
Despite a government geologist confirming that the object was, in fact, a meteorite, police confiscated it and requested the Air Force’s verification. Many people in the tiny town thought the smoke trails in the sky and loud explosion meant a plane had crashed, while others, paranoid by the Cold War, blamed the Soviets. The object needed some clearing up.
Once verified, the only other thing left to do was figure out who the rock belonged to. Of course, Hodges believed it was rightfully hers to keep.
“I feel like the meteorite is mine,” she said, according to the Alabama Museum of Natural History. “I think God intended it for me. After all, it hit me!”
But, as luck would have it, she wasn’t the only person wanting to stake a claim for the space rock. Her landlady, Birdie Guy, wanted to keep it for herself.
Guy found a lawyer and sued Hodges, alleging that it was hers because it landed on her property. Although the law was leaning in her favor, the community wasn’t too happy about that verdict. So, in exchange for $500, they settled out of court.
Soon after, the woman and her husband, Eugene, received an offer from the Smithsonian for the rock, though they turned it down — hoping to score a better offer. An offer they’d never get.
No one approached them to purchase the controversial entity. In 1956, the Hodges wound up donating it to the museum. If you’re interested in checking it out, it’s still on display.
The entire story is just a little heartbreaking, especially when you consider that Ann suffered a nervous breakdown from the meteorite hysterics.
According to the museum, “she never did recover” from the frenzy that followed that fateful day.
The couple later separated, and, in 1972, she went on to die of kidney failure in a nursing home.
She “wasn’t a person who sought out the limelight. The Hodges were just simple country people, and I really think that all the attention was her downfall,” explained museum director Randy Mecredy.
What makes this woman’s story so rare is that meteorites typically fall into the ocean or land somewhere desolate (not on top of a woman napping on her couch), according to Michael Reynolds, a Florida State College astronomer.
“Think of how many people have lived throughout human history,” Reynolds said. “You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time.”
In the photo above, Moody Jacobs reveals her bruise from the incident.
Image credit: Jay Leviton, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images