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Meet Ann Hodges, the Only Confirmed Person in History to be Hit by a Meteorite

Sep 22, 2016 04:10 AM EDT
Meteorite
Meteorites speeding towards Earth often inspire visions of glooma and doom, but throughout history most of them have missed actually hitting a person. In fact, only Ann Hodges is confirmed to have been physically struck by a meteorite. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Photo : Chip Somodevilla / Staff)

Meteorites speeding towards Earth often inspire visions of gloom and doom, but throughout history, most of them have missed actually hitting a person. In fact, only Ann Hodges is confirmed to have been physically struck by a meteorite. Spoiler alert: she survived.

It was a clear afternoon in Sylacauga, Alabama in November 1954 when the one-in-a-million event happened, according to a report from National Geographic. Hodges was taking a nap on her couch when a black rock about the size of a softball suddenly careened through the roof, bounced off a radio and slammed into her thigh.

The story is so simple that most would think it happens all the time. Not really; astronomer and author Michael Reynolds said that meteorites usually hit the ocean or other vast, empty places. It's rarity is baffling in itself.

"Think of how many people have lived throughout human history," Reynolds pointed out to National Geographic. "You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time."

The neighborhood community has already been aware of the meteorite at that point. An official NASA report revealed that the "bright, slow moving fireball" was spotted in the southern sky. Sylacauga residents said there was television interference coinciding with the time of the meteorite's descent into Earth.

People from all over town flocked to the Hodges' residence, including a government geologist who was called to confirm that the rock was indeed a meteorite. Some suspected a plane crash or even the Soviets.

Eventually, Hodges was brought to a hospital. She sustained no injuries, except for a massive, nasty-looking bruise the shape of a pineapple.

The excitement over Hodges survival died down to make way for the question of the space rock's ownership. While the local police initially turned over the meteorite to the Air Force, the public soon clamored for it to be returned to Hodges.

For a while, there was a mild controversy over its ownership as Ann and husband Eugene were both renters and their landlady Birdie Guy wanted the rock for herself. Guy gave up her rights to it for $500 and the couple ultimately donated the meteorite to the natural history museum.

Ann Hodges died in 1972 of kidney failure in a nursing home, after she and Eugene separated. Her ex-husband said that she never recovered from her time in the limelight.

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