Remembering the First Meteorite Injury in the United States

By Corey S. Powell | February 15, 2013 9:53 am

While many other writers–including Discover’s own Keith Kloor and Tom Yulsman–have posted updates on the meteor that exploded over Russia, injuring up to 1,000 people, I was reminded of the first (and so far, only) serious meteorite injury in the United States.

The Hodges Meteorite, the only space rock ever to injure someone in the United States.(Credit: Photo by Beverly Crider)

On November 30, 1954, Ann Elizabeth Hodges of  Sylacauga, Alabama, was struck on the hip while sleeping on her sofa. A meteorite had crashed through the roof, bounced off an old-fashioned Philco console radio, and hit her in the abdomen, causing a serious bruise. The meteorite is now commonly known as the Hodges Meteorite in her honor, although it’s one that she undoubtedly would have been just as happy to do without. Hodges was left with lifelong injuries as a result. The Decatur Daily News has a good, detailed reminiscence of the event, as does the University of Alabama.

Meanwhile, The Guardian has a helpful FAQ about today’s Russian meteor explosion, and I have updated my recent blog post about today’s flyby of asteroid 2012 DA–apparently entirely unrelated to the Russian event–and the true risks of being killed by a meteorite, including the latest news. Despite the feeling today that the sky is falling, the danger is still very very small.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: astronomy, select, space, Top Posts
  • Dante

    I grew up in Sylacauga and remember hearing this story many times as well as visiting the meteorite at the museum. I had actually just relayed the story to a coworker today when your article came across my reader.

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About Corey S. Powell

Corey S. Powell is DISCOVER's Editor at Large and former Editor in Chief. Previously he has sat on the board of editors of Scientific American, taught science journalism at NYU, and been fired from NASA. Corey is the author of "20 Ways the World Could End," one of the first doomsday manuals, and "God in the Equation," an examination of the spiritual impulse in modern cosmology. He lives in Brooklyn, under nearly starless skies.

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