Sunday, April 09, 2006
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
This just in from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Flying ice chunk leaves hole -- and mystery -- in park
Some folks in North Oakland thought it was a meteorite streaking across the Saturday morning sky. Others felt the ground shake from the impact and feared it was an earthquake.
But it wasn't a quake, meteorite or creatures from outer space. The UFO that crashed in Bushrod Park along Shattuck Avenue turned out to be a giant chunk of ice that left police and airport officials scratching their heads over its origin.
The fast-moving projectile slammed into a field near the sidewalk between 59th and 60th streets shortly before 10 a.m., sending a spray of dirt, grass and chunks of ice several feet into the air, witnesses said.
Some residents said they were lucky the object crashed into an empty field and not onto the nearby Don Budge tennis courts or the row of houses and small businesses across the street.
"It was totally amazing," said Jacek Purat of Berkeley, who was waiting on Shattuck to show apartments in a building he owns to prospective renters.
"I saw this flash, like a streak. Then I saw this explosion, like a big boom! I came over and it (the field) was all covered with ice. Some were this big," Purat said, making a head-size circle with his two hands.
Jackie Gordon, owner of Gordon Realty at 5977 Shattuck Ave., called police moments after the crash.
"Me and my husband were coming up the street," Gordon said. "And there was this big old hole and all this grass in the street. I thought it was dry ice."
Oakland police Sgt. Ron Yelder said no injuries were reported.
The impact left a crater 2 feet wide and 11/2 feet deep -- meaning the ice chunk was moving fast, Yelder said.
It's not clear where the projectile came from.
"We were speculating that it might have come from an airplane," Yelder said. "(But) it was clear ice, so it wasn't like waste from an airplane.
"I've never seen it before in my life," Yelder said.
San Francisco International Airport duty manager Bob Schneider said it would be easy to crack the ice-bomb mystery if it were blue ice, a telltale sign of ice from the film cap of an airplane lavatory. Such blue ice has been known to dislodge and fall to Earth.
Aircraft often land with a sheen of frozen water on the lower surfaces of their wings, caused by flying at high altitude.
"(But) we're talking ice a millimeter thick just adhering to the outer surface of the wing," Schneider said. "A big chunk of clear ice. I've never heard of anything like that."
By midafternoon, all the ice had melted -- leaving behind a large hole filled with more than a foot of muddy water. But people continued to come and look, some taking pictures with their cell phones.
Jacek Purat brought a friend by to show that he was telling the truth about the crash.
"It was going so fast," Purat said, standing next to the hole. "I have a piece of it in my freezer."