August 27, 1979-Deputy Sheriff Val Johnson of Marshall County was on duty that night, driving not far from the North Dakota border, when at around 1:40 a.m. he saw a light through his side window. It was obviously not on a road and looked too glaring to be a car headlight.
He first thought it might be a small plane on or very near the ground. He turned left on another road to try to get closer to the light to identify it. Suddenly, the light moved toward him, travelling so fast that it almost instantaneously was upon his car (covering an estimated mile and a half).
Johnson was blinded by the brilliance of the light and heard glass breaking, then lost consciousness.
When he returned to consciousness, the car was stalled and had skidded across the highway. He felt sluggish and shaky. He radioed headquarters, at 2:19 a.m., to request assistance. Soon another deputy arrived, who called an ambulance.
The doctor who examined Johnson found him to be in a mild state of shock.
His eyes were irritated as if Johnson had suffered "mild welder's burns," and Johnson couldn't stand to be exposed to any bright lights.
The patrol car had very peculiar damage. The inside headlight on the driver's side was smashed but not the one to its immediate left. There was a flat-bottomed circular dent on the left side of the front hood, about a half inch in diameter, close to the windshield.
There was a crack in the windshield on the driver's side, that ran from top to bottom, with four apparent impacts. The electric clock was running 14 minutes slow, as was Johnson's wristwatch.
The shaft of the roof antenna was bent over at a 60-degree angle, starting about 6 inches above its base.
The trunk antenna was bent over at 90 degrees, but only near the top. No damage occurred to the car's regular antenna on the front hood. Essentially, all the damage to the car occurred on the left, or driver's side.
Investigations occurred immediately, both by the sheriff's department and by investigators from the Center for UFO Studies. The police determined that Johnson's car traveled about 950 feet after the first damage occurred.
No cause could be found for the event, including collision with another vehicle or a low-flying plane, a hoax on the part of Johnson, or anything else. In addition, experts from Ford Motors (the vehicle was a 1977 Ford LTD) and a team of engineers from Honeywell examined various portions of the damage.
A windshield expert, Meridan French, from Ford, noted after examining the windshield fractures that "Even after several days of reflection on the crack patterns and apparent sequence of fractures, I still have no explanation for what seem to be inward and outward forces acting almost simultaneously. I can only [conclude]... that all cracks were from mechanical forces of unknown origin."
No cause could be found for the clock running slow, the peculiar antenna damage, or other physical traces.
Fortunately, Johnson's eyes healed quickly, and he suffered no lasting effect from the close encounter.
Val Johnson's own words...
"This is Deputy Sheriff Val Johnson... I report in connection with an incident which happened August 27th, 1979, at approximately 1:40 a.m., western section of Marshall County, approximately ten miles west of Stephen, Minnesota. This officer was on routine patrol, westbound down Marshall County Road #5.
I got to the intersection of #5 and Minnesota State #220. When I looked down south #220 to check for traffic, I noticed a very bright, brilliant light, 8 to 12 inches in diameter, 3 to 4 feet off the ground.
The edges were very defined. I thought perhaps at first that it could be an aircraft in trouble, as it appeared to be a landing light from an aircraft. "
"I proceeded south on #220. I proceeded about a mile and three tenths or a mile and four tenths when the light intercepted my vehicle causing damage to a headlight, putting a dent in the hood, breaking the windshield and bending antennas on top of the vehicle.
At this point. at the interception of the light, I was rendered either unconscious, neutralized or unknowing for a period of approximately 39 minutes.
From the point of intersection, my Police vehicle proceeded south in a straight line 854 feet, at which point the brakes were engaged by forces unknown to myself, as I do not remember doing this, and I left about approximately 99 feet of black marks on the highway before coming to rest sideways in the road with the grille of my hood facing in an easterly direction. At 2:19 a.m., I radioed a 10-88 (Officer Needs Assistance) to my dispatcher in Warren."
"He dispatched an officer from Stephen who came out, ascertained the situation as best he could, called for the Stephen Ambulance to transport me to Warren Hospital for further tests, x-rays and observation.
At the time the officer arrived, I complained about having very sore eyes. At Warren Hospital, it was diagnosed that I had a mild case of welder's burns to my eyes.
My eyes were treated with some salve and adhesive bandages put over and instructed to keep them on for the remainder of the day, or approximately 24 hours. At 11:00 a.m., Sheriff Dennis Breckie, my employer, picked me up at my residence in Oslo, and transported me to an ophthalmologist in Grand Forks, North Dakota."
" He examined my eyes and said I had some irritation to the inner portions of the eye which could have been caused by seeing a bright light after dark. That is all I have to add except to say that my timepiece in the Police vehicle and my mechanical wrist watch were both lacking 14 minutes of time to the minute."
The most complete account of this case is in The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon from the Beginning by Jerome Clark (1998), Omnigraphics. Other references include Allan Hendry "Minnesota CEII: The Val Johnson Story," International UFO Reporter Pt. I, 4 (Sept./Oct. 1979):4-9, and Pt II, 4 (November 1979): 4-10.
More Research Materials on Case:
We were contacted by researcher Guy Westcott, of UFOR, who investigated the Val Johnson case. He worked for NOAP and CCUFOS at the time of the incident, and has been kind enough to send us some great material pertaining to the case, and we offer him much thanks for this. All of the material below came from him.
Guy Westcott, UFOR
History Channel documentary
UFO Case files
UFO Casebook Home Page
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