Brigantine - It was a pretty typical Saturday evening for Dan and Jean Ciechanowski as they worked the barbecue and chatted with neighbors this past weekend.

Then it happened.

Dan Ciechanowski heard a noise that he described as the sound a missile makes and saw something moving across the sky at a 45-degree angle.

It smashed into a vacant lot next to his property with a crash that shook the foundation of his house.

That crash was pretty close to where Jean Ciechanowski was grilling. Though there is a fence between her property and the vacant yard, she too heard the missile-like sound and felt the impact.

In the end, the object - a large chunk of ice - had landed just a few feet away.

"First I heard the noise of it coming down," she said. "Then there's this crash and it shook the ground all around me. It was a pretty scary thing to go through."

In fact, the Ciechanowskis described the impact as surreal. What they found afterward was a one-foot-deep crater in the adjacent yard with a hunk of ice two feet around sitting in the middle.

The ice fell at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday. When investigated by city police, it was assumed that the ice had fallen from a plane. Police called the Federal Aviation Administration to see if any planes in the area had inadvertently dropped the ice from one of their holding tanks. Or it could be a form of "blue ice," a euphemism used in the airline industry for ice that falls from leaking airplane lavatories.

There were too many planes in the area to find a culprit, police said, but Ciechanowski isn't so sure that the ice came from a plane.

"That was my first thought," he said. "We are on an approach for Atlantic City International Airport. But my neighbor and I were out talking when it happened. We looked around and didn't see a single plane in the area."

Ciechanowski did some quick Internet research and found some other problems with a blue ice theory. The ice in question was clear, did not have a foul odor and seemed to have some minerals in it.

"I'm not saying what it is," Ciechanowski said. "But it doesn't fit what I was reading in the Internet. It made me think it could be something else, like a type of meteor."

A spokesman for the FAA said that despite the lack of color and odor, the ice still could have come from a plane. The FAA intends to investigate the incident.

When they get to the site, they'll be able to see the ice first-hand. Ciechanowski kept a piece in the freezer. And he is handling it with care in case the blue ice theory holds up.

"It's in a freezer we don't use too much and it's in plastic," he said.

For the Ciechanowskis, the mystery ice will provide for some interesting conversations this summer, but they are aware it could have been a lot worse.

"If this had hit something like our house it would have smashed right through it," Dan Ciechanowski said. "If it hit somebody it would be terrible. We're very lucky that nobody got hurt by this thing. I'm still a little paranoid about planes flying overhead right now."

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