Reports of “trace cases,” where UFOs leave their fingerprints behind, are steadily growing. They can be easily dismissed as lies from attention-seeking weirdos, but when they come from professionals such as pilots, policemen, soldiers, and scientists, it makes you wonder. These are not the career fields that encourage employees to swing on the extraterrestrial vine; they stand to lose a lot by reporting or investigating a UFO. (Of course, they can also stand to gain a fair amount due to the publicity.) This doesn’t mean that civilian sightings are less important. Trace cases, like any other good mystery, cannot be proven to everybody’s satisfaction, but they remain eternally fascinating to paranormal sleuths, whether armchair or professional.
A moody UFO had no respect for the law when it was approached by a deputy sheriff in 1979. While on patrol outside the small community of Stephen, Minnesota, Val Johnson encountered something that would give him and his cruiser the UFO version of weaseling out of a ticket. Around 2:00 AM, the deputy noticed a bright object hovering above the road and decided to investigate a little closer. The UFO suddenly rocketed straight at his patrol car, killing the engine. The last thing Johnson remembered was light all around him and the sound of glass shattering. When he woke up, the strange object was gone and he was blind and bruised but able to radio for help.
Fellow policemen soon arrived and found Johnson’s 1977 Ford worse off than he was. The windshield was splintered and smashed, there were dents in the hood, and both a headlight and the roof beacon were wrecked. The car’s two radio antennae were bent, respectively at 45- and 90-degree angles. Johnson also stated that the car’s clock and his wristwatch both stopped for 14 minutes and that he had blacked out for 39 minutes. Time in the Val Johnson story is the only suspicious factor in an otherwise compelling UFO trace case. He never clarified how he knew that he had been unconscious for exactly 39 minutes, nor did he explain what had made him aware that the two clocks had lost time and how he measured the time lost as 14 minutes.
The medical evidence was a little more solid. The doctor who attended to Johnson described his sight injury as similar to welder burns caused by extreme exposure to UV light. Thankfully, he eventually recovered his vision, and the patrol car—original damage intact—now stands in a museum in the Minnesota town of Warren.