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Suburban Legends - Close Encounters of the Worst Kind [Excerpt]

Suburban Legends - Close Encounters of the Worst Kind [Excerpt]

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Published by QuirkBooks
A pack of cops stumbled into the ultimate chase
when they tried to pull over a UFO.

An excerpt from Suburban Legends by Sam Stall, now available via Quirk Books. http://quirkbooks.com/book/suburban-legends
A pack of cops stumbled into the ultimate chase
when they tried to pull over a UFO.

An excerpt from Suburban Legends by Sam Stall, now available via Quirk Books. http://quirkbooks.com/book/suburban-legends

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categoriesBook Excerpts
Published by: QuirkBooks on Oct 02, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Remember the scene from
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 
inwhich police cruisers take off on a high-speed, semihumorouspursuit of ground-skimming UFOs? Believe it or not, that wasbased on an actual encounter from 1966. But the real chase, andthe life-changing repercussions it held for the many men whoconducted it, was no laughing matter.It began around 5 in the morning on April 17 on the shoulderof Route 224 in Portage County, Ohio, just south of Cleveland.Deputy sheriff Dale Spaur and mounted deputy Wilbur “Barney”Neff had parked their police cruiser and were warily approaching an abandoned car they’d spotted on the side of the road. Sud-
denly, a large ying saucer with bright lights rose out of the woodsbehind them. Spaur noticed it rst as it levitated to a height of perhaps one hundred feet (30 m).
He quickly alerted his partner. The two stood slack-jawed, star-ing as the craft moved toward them, so brightly illuminated that itturned the predawn murkiness into day. “The only thing, the only
Close Encounters of the Worst Kind 
ApackofcopsstumbledintotheultimatechasewhentheytriedtopulloveraUFO.
 
sound in the whole area was a hum,” Spaur said later.Regaining their composure, the cops jumped back into theircar and watched as the UFO veered off toward the east. Spaurreported what had happened to his dispatcher and was told topursue.
And so the chase was on. As long as the ying saucer stayed
close to the ground and kept a reasonable speed, it was a breeze totail. It was so bright, Spaur said, that “it’d make your eyes water.”Still, they pushed their cruiser to the limit to keep up. The UFOambled east at what, for it, must have been a leisurely pace. But
the cops had to drive in excess of one hundred miles an hour (160km/h) just to stay in the general vicinity.
As dawn broke, the two men got a better look at their quarry. It
was reportedly silver, with some sort of tail n or projection at the
rear—or at what the gumshoes assumed was the rear. It seemed
to be about forty feet (12 m) wide and eighteen feet (5.4 m) tall.
As the minutes passed, they highballed through jurisdiction after jurisdiction, keeping up a running commentary on their radio. In
East Palestine, Ohio, an ofcer named H. Wayne Huston listened
in, then parked at an intersection he knew they’d have to pass.Shortly thereafter he saw the UFO glide overhead, followed mo-
ments later by Portage County’s nest in their severely overtaxed
squad car. Huston fell in behind them and joined the chase.The pursuit ended in Conway, Pennsylvania, when Spaur, lowon gas, pulled over to ask a local cop for assistance. While the of-
cer was on his radio seeking instructions, Huston pulled up and
 joined the party. The UFO, obligingly, hovered nearby in plainsight, as if waiting for the game of tag to resume.
But it wasn’t to be. The ofcers heard chatter on their car
radios about Air Force jets being scrambled to investigate. Soon
afterward they thought they saw ghters approaching. That, ap
-
 
parently, was too much for whoever piloted the ying saucer. The
craft suddenly shot straight up, out of sight.But Spaur would see it again—once more in the real world,and endlessly in his nightmares.
The ofcial investigation into the affair, viewed from the dis
-tance of four decades, looks like a by-the-book whitewash. Policechief Gerald Buchert of Mantua told the
Cleveland Plain Dealer 
thathe took a photo of the thing as it passed his house. But he also saidthat someone from the Air Force told him not to give the imageto anyone. The military denied scrambling the interceptors that
seemed to ush the UFO. Finally, in the famous Project Blue
Book, the entire affair was pooh-poohed as a case of mistaken
identity. The ying saucer, which was so bright it cast shadows,was dismissed as a misidentication of Venus, or a satellite, or
perhaps both.None of this washed with the men who had risked their livesdriving at breakneck speeds down dark roads to keep an eye onthe thing. “We were close, closer than I ever want to be again,”Spaur told the
 Plain Dealer 
. “I know nobody’s going to believe it,but it’s true.”He was dead right about the “nobody’s going to believe itpart. But what he couldn’t know was that his game of tag with the
harmless-seeming ying saucer would ruin his life.
Within six months of the sighting, Spaur lost his job and hismarriage and was hovering on the edge of destitution. And hewasn’t the only one hitting rock bottom. The Pennsylvania police-man to whom he’d turned for assistance clammed up so tight he
had his phone removed. Ofcer H. Wayne Huston, who brought
up the rear during the pursuit, turned in his badge, changed hisname to Harold W. Huston, moved to Seattle, and became abus driver. Even Neff, who rode shotgun with Spaur that fateful

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