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Physical Evidence Related to UFO Reports (Sturrock Panel): Physiological Effects on Witnesses

Peter Sturrock / Sturrock Panel Report / Physical Evidence Related to UFO Reports

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Summary: UFO reports sometimes include references to physiological effects on witnesses. These effects can range from mild temporary sensations to long-term injuries.

Peter A. Sturrock ,  Ph.D.

author's bio

UFO reports sometimes include references to physiological effects on witnesses. These effects can range from mild temporary sensations to long-term injuries. Such cases were reviewed by Schuessler. (See Schuessler, 1996, and Section 15).

Among the temporary sensations experienced by witnesses, Schuessler gave the following examples: a strong sensation of heat that was reported in association with an event at Mount Rouge, Quebec, Canada on September 20, 1972; a "cold" feeling reported by a witness to an event near Eggardon Hill, England, on September 24, 1974; an experience of shock, reported by two witnesses to an event near Tyler, Texas, on November 26, 1976; a sensation like being "hit with a wet blanket" and a very uncomfortable feeling of being unable to move, reported by two witnesses of an event that occurred near Anderson, Indiana, on August 12, 1981; and a tingling sensation, an inability to move, and an experience of having the hair on the neck stand on end, that were all reported by a witness of an event that occurred near Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, on August 15, 1986.

Schuessler also described several cases in which witnesses experienced multiple sensations including the following: uncontrollable hand motion; eye irritation; difficulty in breathing; an acid taste in the mouth; a sensation of the hair on the arm standing up; loss of consciousness; eye damage so that the witness could barely see; a mark on the hand of a witness where she reported that she has been hit by a beam; a red crust of soft skin on the face that felt sensitive to the touch; and a sensation of heat. Physiological effects were reported that could be long lasting, including the following: burns; temporary deafness; singeing of hair; laceration; swelling; nausea, that could continue for months and could lead to weight loss; loss of sight that could take months to overcome; severe itching; memory loss; burn marks; double vision; nose bleeds; and change of urine color. For more information on cases leading to such effects, see Schuessler (1996).

Schuessler gave an extensive account of a notable case that occurred near Dayton, Texas, on December 29, 1980 (Schuessler, 1981; 1988; 1998). This is known as the "Cash-Landrum" case since it involved Betty Cash, then a 51 year old business woman, and Vickie Landrum, then a 57 year old employee in a restaurant. It also involved Landrum's grandson Colby, then 7 years old. According to their reports, they encountered a large diamond-shaped object hovering above the road in front of them. Flames were belching from the bottom of the craft. The interior of the car became hot, forcing them to leave the vehicle. However, Colby and Landrum returned to the vehicle out of fear. Cash remained outside the automobile for seven to ten minutes. The object rose into the night sky and moved away. According to their reports, the object was accompanied by 23 helicopters that Cash and Landrum assumed to be military.

The witnesses were initially affected mainly by the heat and the bright light, and they developed headaches. During the night, Colby vomited repeatedly and his skin turned red. The same happened to Landrum. Cash fared even worse: large water blisters formed on her face and head, and by morning her eyes had swollen shut. The three witnesses continued to have severe nausea: even water would make them vomit; they developed diarrhea, and their health deteriorated severely. Cash was taken to a hospital where she was treated as a burn patient. This was the first of more than two dozen periods of hospital confinement for Cash.

Schuessler listed the following medical problems developed by the three witnesses: eyes swollen, painful and watery; permanent damage to the eyes; stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea; sores and scarring of skin, with loss of pigmentation; excessive hair loss over a several-week period, the new hair having a different texture from the old; loss of appetite, energy and weight; damage to fingernails and shedding of fingernails; increased susceptibility to disease; and cancer.

The Cash-Landrum case seems to be unique in that there is detailed documentation of the injuries (photographs, etc.), and of the subsequent medical treatment. The case seems also to be unique in that it appeared to involve military helicopters, raising the possibility that a secret military operation was in progress (Schuessler, 1996).

As Schuessler pointed out, most witnesses who suffer from injuries do not tell their physicians about the events that appear to have led to injuries and, if they do, they find that the physician does not believe them. Follow-up examinations are rare, and investigators usually collect little more than anecdotal data. Nevertheless, some patterns seem to emerge concerning the types of injury that are reported: it appears that burns (and/or sensation of heat) and eye problems are the most frequently reported forms of injury.

The panel members were concerned with these accounts, since it appears that some events related to UFO reports may constitute a public health problem. However, the evidence is weakened by the fact that, in most cases, no unaffected and independent witness is present. The available evidence (that is admittedly sparse) seems to be indicative of microwave, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet radiation, although a few cases seem to point towards high doses of ionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays. Most of the reported eye problems (sometimes long lasting) may be attributed to strong UV radiation. Superficial burns may be due to UV radiation, but deeper burns may be due to microwaves. It may be noted that injuries to vegetation (see Section 11), that include desiccation and "aging," also may be due in part to microwave radiation.

Unfortunately, cases that involve injuries to animals and people are usually not well documented, and lack an adequate description of the injuries and of the follow-up investigations (if any). Research is also made difficult by the fact already mentioned that victims typically give no information to the attending physician and that, when they do, the physicians tend not to believe them. This does not help in the medical diagnosis and treatment. Some cases come to the attention of UFO investigators only years after the event. Nevertheless, it appears that the reported cases involve very uncommon injuries, that have probably been brought about by sources of intense radiation that are usually not accessible to the public.

Schuessler's presentation included an account of the protocols developed by UFO medical experts for the investigation of such cases. The panel suggested that additional relevant tests include tests for radioactive contamination or intake, and also tests for possible chromosomal changes in the lymphocytes that might yield evidence of exposures to ionizing radiation. Investigators and physicians could employ some of the general procedures developed and published by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), for responding to emergency and accidental exposures to ionizing radiations.

For the well-being of victims, and for research purposes, it is important that victims receive treatment rapidly. For this to occur, it is necessary that doctors should be educated to immediately report cases of unusual injuries, such as those mentioned in this section, to an official organization. For research purposes, it is essential that there be strong witness testimony supplementary to that of the victims of the event. Furthermore, it would be helpful if an investigation protocol could be developed for this important category of cases that would guide the investigators as well as the examining physicians.

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