- A diamond-shaped UFO covered with flashing
lights may have been responsible for the collapse of the McKim Theatre
roof in Kimberley two weeks ago (March 5, 1999).
- That's the rumour setting the ski town
a-buzz after at least five witnesses reported seeing strange lights drifting
slowly above the Bavarian City around midnight Mar. 5.
- Fuelling speculation were reports of
an unearthly "light show" spotted directly over the theatre roof
just a few hours before it's as-yet unexplained collapse.
- Flashing Lights above McKim
- The first sighting of the UFO - and that's
"unidentified flying object," not necessarily "spaceship,"
all those interviewed were quick to point out - seems to have been made
between 10 p.m. and midnight Mar. 5.
- Home care worker Gail Shay had just returned
from work to her apartment in the Pioneer Lodge on Church Street. As she
prepared to retire, she noticed unusually bright lights dancing above the
roof of the theatre a few blocks away.
- At first, the 46-year-old assumed that
the beams were part of a McKim Theatre Society-sponsored light show.
- A second glance sent shivers up her spine.
- "It was like nothing I've ever seen
before," said Shay.
- "At first, it seemed like there
was a crisscrossing spotlight going up into the sky from the roof of the
school. It was glimmering, like the northern lights. There were all these
- "Then the light spread out like
a mushroom cloud, exactly on the same spot as where the roof is gone."
- Aware that she might be in for some ribbing
after going on the record about her experience, Shay quickly added that
she hadn't been drinking and isn't a spaceship buff. Although she considers
herself somewhat unconventional and open to esoteric ideas, she was overwhelmed
by the experience.
- ... The light spread out like a mushroom
cloud, exactly on the same spot as where the roof is gone.
- I was reeling through a list of possible
explanations, Shay said she decided that she must be hallucinating and
crawled quickly into bed.
- "I just kept thinking, "Well,
it's some unexplained natural phenomena' . . . I can accept lots, but this
was too much!" she said.
- "I just couldn't keep looking because
my mind couldn't explain what I was seeing. I witnessed something, but
I don't know what it was."
- Shaking knees in Townsite
- Approximately an hour later, 68-year-old
Ted Zawaski was shaken out of a deep sleep by a phone call.
- On the other end of the line was a friend
in Chapman Camp, incoherently insisting that Zawaski take a look at the
- After a few minutes, Zawaski, says he
was able to make sense of the friend's words - a diamond-shaped object
covered with flashing lights was drifting slowly over the trees west of
- Grabbing their coats, Zawaski and his
wife ran outside.
- "The minute I saw it, I almost panicked,
because it was like nothing I've seen on this earth," said Zawaski,
who lives in Townsite.
- Excitedly swapping details with the friends
in Chapman Camp, the Zawaskis watched the object from 12:15 to 12:40 a.m
when it drifted out of sight behind the trees.
- "What do I think it is? I don't
know. I can tell you what I don't think it was..." he said.
- The quartet ruled out every conventional
explanation they could think of for the phenomena - it was moving too slowly
and too low to the ground to be a plane or helicopter and it had too many
extremely bright flashing lights to be a hot air balloon, said Zawaski.
- Zawaski admitted to being a bit of a
UFO aficionado himself, and has spotted four over the past 30 years - in
Austria, Norway, near Calgary and Kimberley. However the other three witnesss
claimed that they had never seen one before and weren't looking.
- Man-made, not spacemen!
- In fact, his two friends from Chapman
Camp only agreed to comment if they could remain anonymous due to fear
of public ridicule:
- "You're kind of laughing at the
whole thing yourself," said Mrs. "X." "People make
these little comments like, 'Well, were you drinking last night?"'
- In fact, Mrs. X was stone sober and doing
a last tour of the house before retiring for the night when she, like Shay,
noticed a bright light illuminating the house from outside. Expecting to
see a bright star, she glanced outside and then stood petrified.
- "It was large and round like a car
light, so I thought it was a plane that was going to be landing,"
- As she observed with dawning amazement,
the "plane" hovered unmoving for five minutes, bright white rays
of light shooting to each side. Then the lights changed.
- "The minute I saw it, I almost panicked
because it was like nothing I've seen on this earth."
- "It was throwing out quite a few
different lights, rotating around it. There were definitely four colours
that I recall and maybe two other ones," she recalled.
- "Then, of course, I ran in and called
my husband, 'Hey! You've got to see this!"
- Armed with a pair of binoculars, Mr.
X was the only witness to perceive more details on the object. He reported
seeing a faceted shape like a diamond in a ring, with an inverted cone
underneath. Lights played constantly about its surface, but they shimmered
like lights in a fog, not with the concentrated energy of a bulb, he said.
- "It definitely wasn't a star,"
he said. "Stars twinkle they don't give off dazzling light like that.
It was too brilliant and big for a star."
- Mr. X believes it was probably a man-made
object, but is at a loss to explain it.
- "I don't believe in flying saucers
and little green men, space men, and all that stuff, I don't believe in
it" he said. "I was the first to 'fooh-fooh!' all that stuff
when other people talked about seeing UFOs. I think there's a logical
- Back in Townsite, Zawaski shook with
excitement, too awed to take his eyes off the object - which he now regrets
not photographing. He had to take a tranquilizer to fall asleep after and
couldn't help constantly glancing over his shoulder the next morning while
skiing at the Kimberley Nordic Track.
- "It wasn't anything I've ever seen
anywhere," said Zawaski, adding that the experience cured him of any
desire to see UFOs in the future.
- "I don't ever want to see another
one: it's too devastating."
- "If it had been any closer, I would
have had a heart attack. When I hear reports of other people experiencing
these things from 20 metres away - I don't think I'd survive."
- Spaceship not ruled out
- While Cranbrook Regional Airport doesn't
have radar, nothing unusual was reported that night by staff or incoming
pilots, according to its flight services station.
- However, Kimberley RCMP received several
telephone calls that night about the phenomena, although they were unable
to verify the sighting.
- The rumour was even raised among members
of School District No.6 at an emergency meeting called to discuss the collapsed
theatre roof, which is attached to McKim Middle School.
- We're not about to speculate on the cause
of the collapse, but we've heard all kinds of ideas, including UFO sightings
on Friday night," said George Watson, school district director.
- He did admit last week, with tongue firmly
planted in cheek, that the work crew had not yet found anything in the
wreckage to rule out alien spacecraft as a cause.
- "We haven't yet, but maybe when
we get inside that building, we'll find something: we could find anything!"