UFOs Over Topanga
The Sixth Encounter - They Came Once More
The Messenger, July 2 - 15, 1992
By Colin Penno
Sometime between midnight and dawn's early light Sunday, June 14, strange things happened in the night sky over Topanga.
We can't account for it, we can't explain it--and those who could just aren't talking.
Here's what we think we know...
From somewhere in West Hollywood, a couple of weeks ago a shaken man called the Lost Hills/Malibu Sheriff's station to ask a question and tell a tale.
They'd eaten dinner down on the beach at Gladstones, and then he and his girlfriend took off for a spin up the Coast, turning north into the Santa Monica Mountains at Highway 27 for a peaceful night drive through Topanga Canyon and home to the bright lights of L.A.
"Did anyone report anything strange tonight in Topanga Canyon?" came the call.
"Wanna be more specific?" responded a dubious deputy. "Strange like what?"
"Not that I know of."
With this question answered, the caller stumbled into an incredible story.
"You'll think I'm crazy, but I don't know who to tell," he began.
"Officer, we were driving through the Canyon, where the Canyon gets deep, and we noticed a bright light in the sky." The couple became uneasy because they felt it was following them--whatever it was.
"Suddenly it was over us, we lost control of the car and it lifted us up in the sky, lifted us up off the ground."
"I'm telling you, I've never been more frightened in my life," he said, assuring the cop that "we don't drink, don't take drugs and have no history of psychological problems."
What happened next was vague, according to the driver, who reckons they both lost memory for "I don't know, maybe a couple of minutes and then we were put down."
"Suddenly it (the light, the craft, the tractor beam) wasn't there anymore."
Responding to a distraught but cogent caller, the listening officer stepped in from the cold of incredulity and asked were they both okay?
"Well, we got home by the grace of God. My girlfriend was near-hysterical, we feel nauseous and weak, I don't know what to do."
"I'm telling you I'm a normal human being," the caller pleaded in a quaking voice.
"I have a job, a good job, and my girlfriend too. Should I report this...? They'll think we're out of our minds!"
"I don't believe that something like this would fall under our jurisdiction," the cop said--and wrapped it up by advising the couple to sleep on it and maybe check in with a doctor in the morning."
Second Fishy Couple
Soon a second call about the state of cosmic stability in Topanga came in to the station.
"My girlfriend and I saw three very strange...ah, God...who does one report UFOs to?"
"We saw three UFOs, flying discs high up in the Canyon, past Sassafras Nursery."
"What did they look like?" inquired the voice of the law...
"They were saucers, they were following us above the car and we stopped and got out. We saw them, we watched them and within maybe three seconds--poof--they were gone straight up into the air like a bat out of hell."
This second caller was quite calm, we're told, and asked the listening deputy if he happened to have a number for the U.S. Air Force?
Disappointed, the second caller said, "Well I dunno...we saw what we saw, maybe Gladstones spiked our wine...?"
The Odd New Englishman
Next comes a call from a guy asking if the cops had helicopters flying over the Canyon that night--choppers with unusually bright lights?
"My wife and I were woken up by a very bright light above our home coming in through the windows," he says. "We went outside to look at...an extremely bright light...but there was hardly any sound," just a sort of "high-pitched hum."
His home and the "encounter" were about a mile north of Sassafras, the caller answered in response to a deputy's questions, but declined to give an address explaining that he really didn't want to report a UFO and because his wife was "a bit shaken up right now."
"Have you eaten a Gladstones recently?" asked the deputy--still pushing for a location and explaining that maybe something illegal was going on.
"Deputy," the caller replied, "let me tell you this--if someone is doing something illegal around here they have a hell of a lot of wattage.
"Damnedest thing I ever saw in my life," he concluded, and hung up.
Last Call From Texas
Lastly that night came a call from a guy with a soft Texas accent--a guy who gave his name right up front.
"Did y'all have helicopters up in Topanga Canyon tonight?"
"What did you see sir?" inquired a deputy long-since accustomed to curious calls from a quixotic Canyon.
"I was going down through Topanga Canyon and I think they were helicopters 'cause they were shining damn bright lights on me, but they kinda chased me down the road a bit."
"It sure did put out a powerful beam, a very bright light," the cowboy went on. "I'd say they tailgated me from above, but I couldn't see anything 'cause it was so damned bright...it sure seemed strange to me."
What the Doctor Saw
For readers sceptical about outrageous stories from odd outsiders--here is testimony from a true Topangan with the guts to stand and say what he saw!
Dr. Murray Clarke lives on Callon, a T-junction street at the termination of Cheney Drive, itself an eastward artery off Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Clarke was at home and up and about after midnight that Sunday morning June 14, when a powerful point of light zoomed over his house heading north.
"I looked through my view window which faces the ridgeline and the Valley," Clarke told the Messenger last week. "It was traveling south-to-north very fast in a horizontal path, an intense white/yellow light. As it sped away from me--about over the last ridge, it just vanished."
Clarke, a homeopathic specialist in private practice in Santa Monica, estimated the entire incident to have lasted "just two or three seconds."
He went outside, naturally, but the night sky was "as it was before."
A burning meteor perhaps? A helicopter searchlight?
No says Clarke: "meteorites do not travel on a path parallel with the planet, and the intensity of light was something no helicopter could have brought about."
The Hillside Observation
Around that time and a mile or so south of Clarke's house another Topanga resident remembers something she'd never seen that night.
She too lives east of the Boulevard, and at an elevation similar to Clarke's--two or three hundred feet up from the Canyon floor.
"I saw a brilliant ray of light outside through my window," says the witness, who prefers to be unidentified.
"I saw it and I'll never forget it," she told the Messenger last week. "I'm telling you this now but, well, I'm a professional person and I can't afford the risk of ridicule."
The beam from a car on its way home in the neighborhood?
No way she says.
"I've lived right here for years and because of the hills around I can tell you no headlights can pass by around the house."
A Sheriff's chopper looking for who-knows-what in the night?
"I've seen those lights over and over," she shot back. "This light was so focused, so intense--like nothing I'd ever seen."
So What's New?
None of this comes as much of a surprise to Preston Dennett, who wrote "UFOs Over Topanga," a Messenger cover story in volume 12, No. 25, our terminal edition of 1988.
Dennett says of last month's strange events: "This would be at least the sixth encounter in the Canyon."
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