27, 1979 - Deputy Sheriff Val Johnson of Marshall County
was on duty that night, driving not far from the North Dakota
border, when at around 1:40 a.m. he saw a light through
his side window. It was obviously not on a road and looked
too glaring to be a car headlight.
first thought it might be a small plane on or very near
the ground. He turned left on another road to try to get
closer to the light to identify it. Suddenly, the light
moved toward him, travelling so fast that it almost instantaneously
was upon his car (covering an estimated mile and a half).
was blinded by the brilliance of the light and heard glass
breaking, then lost consciousness.
he returned to consciousness, the car was stalled and
had skidded across the highway. He felt sluggish and shaky.
He radioed headquarters, at 2:19 a.m., to request assistance.
Soon another deputy arrived, who called an ambulance.
doctor who examined Johnson found him to be in a mild
state of shock.
eyes were irritated as if Johnson had suffered "mild
welder's burns," and Johnson couldn't stand to be
exposed to any bright lights.
patrol car had very peculiar damage. The inside headlight
on the driver's side was smashed but not the one to its
immediate left. There was a flat-bottomed circular dent
on the left side of the front hood, about a half inch
in diameter, close to the windshield.
was a crack in the windshield on the driver's side, that
ran from top to bottom, with four apparent impacts. The
electric clock was running 14 minutes slow, as was Johnson's
shaft of the roof antenna was bent over at a 60-degree
angle, starting about 6 inches above its base.
trunk antenna was bent over at 90 degrees, but only near
the top. No damage occurred to the car's regular antenna
on the front hood. Essentially, all the damage to the
car occurred on the left, or driver's side.
occurred immediately, both by the sheriff's department
and by investigators from the Center for UFO Studies.
The police determined that Johnson's car traveled about
950 feet after the first damage occurred.
cause could be found for the event, including collision
with another vehicle or a low-flying plane, a hoax on
the part of Johnson, or anything else. In addition, experts
from Ford Motors (the vehicle was a 1977 Ford LTD) and
a team of engineers from Honeywell examined various portions
of the damage.
windshield expert, Meridan French, from Ford, noted after
examining the windshield fractures that "Even after
several days of reflection on the crack patterns and apparent
sequence of fractures, I still have no explanation for
what seem to be inward and outward forces acting almost
simultaneously. I can only [conclude]... that all cracks
were from mechanical forces of unknown origin."
cause could be found for the clock running slow, the peculiar
antenna damage, or other physical traces.
Johnson's eyes healed quickly, and he suffered no lasting
effect from the close encounter.
Johnson's own words...
is Deputy Sheriff Val Johnson... I report in connection
with an incident which happened August 27th, 1979, at
approximately 1:40 a.m., western section of Marshall County,
approximately ten miles west of Stephen, Minnesota. This
officer was on routine patrol, westbound down Marshall
County Road #5.
got to the intersection of #5 and Minnesota State #220.
When I looked down south #220 to check for traffic, I
noticed a very bright, brilliant light, 8 to 12 inches
in diameter, 3 to 4 feet off the ground.
edges were very defined. I thought perhaps at first that
it could be an aircraft in trouble, as it appeared to
be a landing light from an aircraft. "
proceeded south on #220. I proceeded about a mile and
three tenths or a mile and four tenths when the light
intercepted my vehicle causing damage to a headlight,
putting a dent in the hood, breaking the windshield and
bending antennas on top of the vehicle.
this point. at the interception of the light, I was rendered
either unconscious, neutralized or unknowing for a period
of approximately 39 minutes.
the point of intersection, my Police vehicle proceeded
south in a straight line 854 feet, at which point the
brakes were engaged by forces unknown to myself, as I
do not remember doing this, and I left about approximately
99 feet of black marks on the highway before coming to
rest sideways in the road with the grille of my hood facing
in an easterly direction. At 2:19 a.m., I radioed a 10-88
(Officer Needs Assistance) to my dispatcher in Warren."
dispatched an officer from Stephen who came out, ascertained
the situation as best he could, called for the Stephen
Ambulance to transport me to Warren Hospital for further
tests, x-rays and observation.
the time the officer arrived, I complained about having
very sore eyes. At Warren Hospital, it was diagnosed that
I had a mild case of welder's burns to my eyes.
eyes were treated with some salve and adhesive bandages
put over and instructed to keep them on for the remainder
of the day, or approximately 24 hours. At 11:00 a.m.,
Sheriff Dennis Breckie, my employer, picked me up at my
residence in Oslo, and transported me to an ophthalmologist
in Grand Forks, North Dakota."
examined my eyes and said I had some irritation to the
inner portions of the eye which could have been caused
by seeing a bright light after dark. That is all I have
to add except to say that my timepiece in the Police vehicle
and my mechanical wrist watch were both lacking 14 minutes
of time to the minute."
most complete account of this case is in The
UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon from the Beginning
Clark (1998), Omnigraphics. Other references
include Allan Hendry "Minnesota CEII: The Val Johnson
Story," International UFO Reporter Pt. I, 4 (Sept./Oct.
1979):4-9, and Pt II, 4 (November 1979): 4-10.
Johnson's original police incident report
article from the Nevada Daily Mail
September 9, 1979
article from the Kingman Daily Miner
September 10, 1979