There were many letters in response to an interview about the auction of the Garza Stone, a meteorite that hit a house in Park Forest, Ill., in 2003. Listeners were quick to point out that â€” contrary to what the organizer of this auction suggested â€” there is at least one documented case of a person being hit by a falling rock from outer space.
John Hall, who was for many years a naturalist at the Alabama Museum of Natural History, tells Robert Siegel about the Hodges Meteorite, which blasted through the roof of a home in Sylacauga, Ala., in 1954. It bounced off a radio and hit Ann Elizabeth Hodges, badly bruising her hand and hip.
A dispute ensued over possession of the rock. The Hodgeses' landlord claimed the rock should belong to the owner of the home, not the tenant.
"Mr. Hodges got offers as high as $5,000," Hall says. "But the lawsuit between Ms. Hodges and her landlady kind of muddied the waters, and by the time that was resolved no one was interested in buying the meteorite."
The Hodgeses ended up with possession of the rock for a nominal fee. They then donated it to the Alabama Museum.
The meteorite created a real stir in a number of other ways. To hear more from Siegel's conversation with Hall, click on the smaller "listen" icon above.