LEXINGTON -- A baffling fireball report has gained the attention of an international UFO research agency.
This week, representatives of the Mutual UFO Network will come to Richland County to investigate a report registered with their agency. On Nov. 23, Rick Beverly, of 1431 Graham Road, said he saw what seemed to be a fireball shoot from the sky.
"I was headed north on Graham Road and was right about in front of my house when it happened," he said. "I was looking toward the East and noticed a big ball of fire fall from the sky. It was cruising."
Beverly said a red glow lit up a large section of woods behind his home. He called 9-1-1.
The next day, Lt. Michael Vinson, of the Mansfield post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, said multiple agencies, including the Air National Guard, spent hours searching the woods, to no avail.
His story hasn't changed.
"We never found anything," he said Tuesday. "Initially, it was reported as an airplane crashing. Then that night we sent troopers and other agencies, but couldn't find anything. We checked with both Cleveland and Columbus, but found no aircrafts missing. The next day we did an aircraft flyover just to double-check, but there was no sign of wreckage."
Monday, Mutual UFO Network Chief Field Investigator Thomas Wertman, of the Ohio chapter, spoke with Beverly and set up an appointment to travel to Lexington.
Wertman said a man named Robert Kreiling, who called himself a local astronomer, contacted his organization.
"When we get certain classifications of sightings, they have different priorities," Wertman said. "We like to come and look at the lay of the land and see if we can find any remnants down there. According to the state patrol, they didn't see anything, but if we go down there in the daytime we may get a better view. I'm not out there to say everything we see in the sky is a flying saucer, but we would like to take a look at the area."
MUFON investigates UFO sightings and collects data for use by researchers worldwide. The group promotes research on UFOs and educates the public on UFO phenomena.
Vinson said authorities believed the fireball may have been a meteor.
"It burned for about 45 minutes to an hour," Beverly said. The woods are about a quarter of a mile behind his home.
It's not the first time MUFON has looked into a Richland County event.
In 1973, a National Guard helicopter headed to Cleveland Hopkins Airport was just outside Mansfield, near Charles Mill Lake, when one of the crewmen spotted a lighted object he believed was a tower.
Wertman has studied the well-documented event extensively.
"This crewman didn't think much of it until he noticed the same light again, but it wasn't blinking like a tower. It was just a constant red light," he said.
The crewman notified the commander, Lawrence Coyne, who instructed him to keep an eye on the object -- which he said soon began coming toward their helicopter at "jet speed."
"Coyne put the helicopter into a dive. The object stopped right in front of them and began keeping pace with them," Wertman said.
Suddenly a green light swung around from the object, lighting up the interior of the helicopter.
"Coyne tried to contact Mansfield Lahm and did end up getting an acknowledgment from them, but then the transmit went dead," Wertman said. "But about 30 seconds later, the object just took off in the direction of Lake Erie."
Later, the crew was baffled to learn that, although they were nose-diving toward the ground, their helicopter had actually traveled up more than 1,000 feet.
"None of them said they felt themselves going up," Wertman said.
"I would like to stress one very important fact, and that is there is approximately 20 years of Army aviation experience between the four men aboard the helicopter that night," Coyne said in a video interview from 1973. "We have been trained to follow procedures and regulations in reporting incidents regardless of how they're accepted -- and we reported the incident as it occurred and have avoided any speculation on the subject."