Litchfield County Times
Wed, 25 Apr 2012 22:39 UTC
And the mystery surrounding an incident that got international attention may remain just that - a mystery.
Despite Connecticut officials and legislators being lobbied by at least one former member of a lake protection group to investigate, and despite a private group's vow to crack the case, little follow-up appears to be taking place.
"To the best of my knowledge, there are not any ongoing efforts to retrieve whatever it was, and my hope is that this summer scuba divers will take an active interest in trying to solve this mystery," said State Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-Goshen), who is seeking the GOP nomination to run in the Fifth Congressional District. "We have added this to the list of life's unanswered questions."
The buzz for the last couple of weeks has been about a glowing green object that fell into Bantam Lake around 2 a.m. April 10. In contrast to the magnitude of the buzz - "Is there a UFO in Connecticut?" the Daily Mail in England asked - what is known about the incident is spare.
An unidentified motorist who was near Bantam Lake called State Police at the Troop L barracks in Litchfield to report seeing the green, whale-sized object fall into the lake.
Such a report doesn't necessarily suggest credibility - given that the motorist didn't stick around and apparently didn't call back - but an on-duty State Police trooper some 10 miles away in Warren also called the barracks to report seeing a large object fall from the sky over Bantam or Morris.
Morris firefighters were dispatched, along with firefighters from Bantam, and made several passes up and down the lake in a boat but didn't find anything. Morris Fire Chief Joel Skilton said he was inclined to believe that it was a meteorite, given that the National Weather Service had documented a meteor shower in the area that night.
In the wake of reports about the incident, the Bantam Lake Protective Association's former president, Robert LaBonne, sent an e-mail to Mr. Roraback and State Rep. Craig Miner (R-Litchfield), telling the legislators he had received e-mails from as far away as Florida,.
"With modern technology and the 911 service, I would think the State Police has the ability to trace that 911 call back to the owner of the cell phone," said Mr. LaBonne in the e-mail a couple of weeks ago, referencing the fact that the citizen who claimed to see the object fall into the lake did not remain at the scene. "Once we have that person, hopefully he or she can direct us to the approximate location of the where this thing might be in the lake."
After one story about the sighting was posted two weeks ago on the Web Site of the New Haven Register, The Smoking Gun Research Agency (SGRA) in Orange, indicated in a comment that it would be investigating. According to its Web site, the group studies the paranormal, metaphysical and the unexplained.
Smoking Gun director Jon Nowinski subsequently said that the group spent a couple of days talking with people by e-mail to gather more information.
Mr. Nowinski said Monday in an e-mail that he did request a copy or transcript of the State Police communications from the trooper, and that he hoped to provide more of an update on the situation soon. Whether a meteorite or something else fell into the lake, last week's reports that the incident sparked concern over dead fish being found at Bantam Lake turned out to be red herrings.
A state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) spokesperson said reports of some dead fish being found came in as early as March 21, which is weeks before the UFO (or meteorite) sighting.
"What we're seeing is what appears to be typical phenomena in a water body such as a lake, exacerbated some by the weather we have been having; the warm weather depletes the oxygen in the water," Dennis Schain of the DEEP said in a phone interview April 17. "It's predominantly sunfish. If it was anything unusual - the effect of anything falling in the lake - it would have more quickly affected a whole variety of species.
So that's where it stands. Area businesses that lightheartedly sought to capitalize on early reports of a UFO sighting - with "stellar rates" for extraterrestrials and greetings such as "aliens welcome" - have returned to business as usual.
Meanwhile, as doubt surfaces about whether anyone will solve the mystery of this "smoking gun," some observers around the lake continue to wonder how an incident involving something the size of a whale falling into the lake from a high altitude went unnoticed, even at 2 a.m. Don't we all wake up for a "bump in the night," they ask.