Occurred: 1966-04-17 05:10 Local
Reported: 2005-07-01 15:20 Pacific
Duration: 1.5 hours
No of observers: 8

Location: Atwater, OH, USA

Shape: Other
Characteristics: Lights on object, Aura or haze around object, Left a trail, Emitted beams, Changed Color, Aircraft nearby, Landed, Electrical or magnetic effects

On April 17th , 1966, one of the greatest UFO chases occured With police in NE Ohio and Western PA

At 0510 hrs on April 17th, 1966 2 Portage County Deputies in one car were dispatched to drive towards the Summit County line to check out a call from Summit County Sheriff's Dept. about a strange light or craft in the sky, heading east down Route 224 toward Portage County.

While enroute they stopped to check on what appeared to be an abandoned car with antennas and full of "radio & electronic equipment". It had a strange emblem on the door in the shape of a diamond with lightning bolts and other symbols. While checking out the car, a large luminous object arouse from beyond the north bank of the State Route, and hovered above them. Both deputies described it as ice-cream cone shaped, with the 'ice cream' being solid and the 'cone', pointing down, seeming to be mostly light. Both instinctivle jumped pack into the patrol car. The object then started moving east down Route 224 toward Atwater Center, and they started following it. They also called their radio operator who told them to keep it in sight.

Another deputy, in a single unit car was in Atwater at the intersection of Waterloo Rd & Stroup Rd., and called to say he saw it, it was about 800 feet up and the "cone" of light beneath it appeared to be blue to purple in color. He heard no sound but noticed static on his radio until the object had passed several miles to the east. The 2 persuing deputies in car P-13 followed it east on 224 to the Deerfield circle, then SE on State Route 14. At the dinner on the circle, a night cook & waitress both saw the object and attempted to hide behind a car in the parking lot. As the object proceeded down Route 14 across the corner of Mahoning County and into Columbiana County, 2 Salem patrolmen were sent to the edge of town to see what all the radio calls were about. They describe seeing a bright object, about 1000 feet up going from their left to right (or, as they were looking north, west to east), and it made no noise, but had a trail of bluish colored smoke or light trailing behind & below it. They watched it for a few minutes and listened to the deputies on the radio, but the object veered east following Routr 165 and did not enter Salem city. After it had been out of their sight for 15 to 20 minutes, they both saw & heard jets, 2 or 3, travelling at a high rate of speed from the northwest heading south then turning east as if folloing the object. There was the Youngstown 459th Troop Carrier Wing, Youngstown AFR located in that direction.

As P-13 approached the intersection of Route 165 and State Route 14, a Patrolman from the city of East Palestine saw the object and had been listening to the radio. He pulled out behind P-13 and joined the chase. Both cars now stated that the speed was between 85 & 105 MPH. As they approached the county line, the fell well behind the object a couple of times, and it would seem to slow down to 'wait' for them. They crossed into PA where Route 14 becomes Route 51 and continued SE. A officer partoling at Conway PA saw the object coming and went down to Route 65 (51 becomes 65) to see if it was an aircraft having trouble. Being from PA his radio did not pick up the Ohio unit's chase. As the object shot overhead, he saw the apporaching Ohio cars. The object came to a hover over Harmony Township, and all 4 officers sat at a gas station to discuss what was going on. Then they heard the jets. One came in and flew over the object, while the other 2 started circling around. The Conway officer called his dispatch and asked him to call the Pittsburgh airport to see if they had any activity going on. Then as the first jet turned to make another pass over the object, the objects 'cone of light' turned orange and it shot straight up into the air, and dissapeared in a couple of seconds. All 4 of the officers heard a high pitched winning sound, when it changed color, and their hairs all stood up as it shot up. Also all of their cars shut off at the same instant, though they all easily restarted when tried. The Conway radio operator called back and said some military man at the airport wanted to talk with them. They went to a nearby police station (Rochester) and took the call. The Rochester officer stated that the man said they had scrambled jets, but another man, a Colonel, as he identified himself, came on and said that there were no jets scrambled, and that they had probably been chasing the moon.

When the Portage deputies returned to Ravenna (where their HQ & jail was) they were told to sit tight. A Maj. Quintanilla, USAF was driving up from Dayton to interview them. In the mean time the Sheriff started his own investigation into the events. In all, of all the officers involved (2 Portage deputies, 2 Salam patrolmen, 1 East Palestine patrolman, and 1 Conway Police officer), 6 of them, were interviewed by a detective from Portage County, then by Maj. Quintanilla, a Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe, USMC (RET), William B. Weitzel (NICAP), Prof. William Powers of Northwestern University and Director of the Dearborn Observatory, and various newspaper reporters. The Detective that investigated this found elevated levels on his CD survey meter, and scourched earth in the field where the deputies claim it rose out of. And there were the photos taken by a local police chief (From Mantua) which were discounted by the "official" investigators, that this experienced detective found compelling. And there are the recorded tapes from the interviews, that never made it into the official government investigation because the Sheriff wanted his to be an independant investigation and not to come to the attention of the military - which it did not.

I was a deputy at Portage County Ohio from 1985 - 1989, and came across these files while cleaning up old files for removal to the new facility. I was to dispose of all the case material that was not related to open cases or those involving deaths of violence. But this was just too good to throw out. Much of the material is on the NICAP web site, just search under Portage County Ohio UFO Chase. However, what I found was the independant investigation the Sheriff had done, and which was never turned over to the investigators - at the request of the Sheriff himself. So I have witness statements made on the Sheriff office's report forms, the detectives report, and material never before examined by UFOlogists, or skeptics. This was a significant case in 1966, and the chase seen in "close Encounters" were the UFO goes over the lead actor's pick-up and it stalls, and as the object leaves it is being chased by police cars, was inspired by this very case. The Portage officers followed the object for 86 miles. It was chased by 6 police officers, seen by many civilian witnesses, was chased by Air Force jets, and resulted in 3 of the officers leaving the profession, 2 quit, one was fired and he got a divorice as well - all because of this chase.

I am preparing to include this in a book, with all of the new details, reports, and the evidence which was never before released, along with some other interesting events from Eastern Ohio / Western PA. But in the mean time I am sending copies of the documents and tapes to the UFO center for their examination.


Dear Mr. Davenport:

Thank you for your prompt reply. The information in the material is interesting, and I would be glad to put it into report form. Some of the material I have is indeed in the NICAP database (Just do a search there under Portage County and you get lots of hits), but the vast majority of it came from the Sheriff's Office report, which again were in the detective's files, and according to deputies who participated in the investigation the material was never given to Maj. Quintanilla or to Mr. Keyhoe or the NICAP folks - it was just locked away in the detective division's files. The taped material is from reel-to-reel tapes of the interview of the 2 portage deputies involved (interview by Major Quintanilla of Project Blue Book), a Salem police officer and East Palestine police officer (both by Portage County Detectives), and some material that I cannot make out what it is. There are police reports, the original NICAP report, and some interview transcripts of 4 witnesses - all not in the NICAP data base. I did email NICAP, but was told that it is not an "active site" anymore - just a data repository. I could attach these to some emails, or better yet I could fax them if you have a number. As for the tapes, I have copied most onto cassette format, and can easily mail you a copy for you to keep.

These files were not considered an active case, so I believe legally it would be OK to publish this stuff. I will, however, ask my lawyer to be sure I am not breaching any confidentiality rules (it was not a solved case either, so it had not ever been placed in the public domain file at the Sheriff's Office; and I want to be sure that I am not going to be liable for slander in any way). The telling of the story back in 1966 led to one deputy involved loosing his job, getting divorced, and he lived in poverty for most of the intervening years - so mentioning him again in a public forum MAY be a problem. At worst, you may have to withhold my identity until I get these questions answered. But I will get this stuff together in the next few days and either email or fax the documents, and mail you the tapes.

Thanks again for your fast reply.

Regards, ((name deleted))



We spoke via telephone with the person who submitted the report, and we found him to be quite credible. We await photocopied materials from the witness. PD

Posted 2005-07-05

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