by Terrence Aym
February 19, 2011
German teenager Gerrit Blank may be the unluckiest person on Earth…or maybe he’s the luckiest.
What some astronomers claim is a “trillion to one chance” has happened again, a meteorite has hit a human being. Although the odds are certainly against anyone being hit—let alone killed—by a meteorite.
Perhaps a trillion to one is being too optimistic, however, because at least two people have been struck by meteorites in less than 100 years and there may be more cases of such incidents.
Over the past few thousands of years dozens of documented cases recorded the maiming or killing of many humans. Some of the more verifiable historical cases can be found at “Reported Deaths and Injuries from Meteorite Impact” http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/ 2008/06/reported-deaths.html Other documented near misses are described here: http://www.ketv.com/news/46721 77/detail.html
Animals too are subject to meteoric injuries and death.
According to news reports, Blank, who was walking to school, was grazed by a space rock about the size of a pea. That might not sound too sensational until one considers that the “pea” was traveling about 30,000mph.
The tiny chunk of rock hit his hand before slamming into the ground next to him creating a foot-wide crater. That is the bad luck part of the story.
The good luck comes with his survival of the incident. Although he suffered an injury—the encounter with the meteorite has left him with a livid three-inch long scar—Blank is really none the worse for wear considering what would have happened had the rock scored a direct hit.
A meteorite did score a direct hit on an animal. The space rock dubbed “Valera,” hit and horribly killed a grazing cow. The animal literally exploded where it stood and was cut almost entirely in half within an instant.
Other meteorites have been reported to have killed an Egyptian dog, a horse, and other animals.
The best documented human-meteor encounter before Blank’s experience occurred back on November 30, 1954. Ann Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama was in her living room sleeping on a couch when a grapefruit-sized meteor came smashing through the roof, slammed onto the radio, bounced off it and hit her. She suffered cuts and bruises.
According to Wikipedia, the “Hodges meteorite”—or Sylacauga meteorite—is displayed at the Alabama Museum of Natural History.
Blank told the newsmedia during an interview about his experence that “At first I just saw a large ball of light, and then I suddenly felt a pain in my hand. Then a split second after that there was an enormous bang like a crash of thunder.”
The flash and ban startled and disoriented the boy.