LAST week’s column about the darker side of Santa Claus brought praise from some quarters and damnation from others.
One chap collared me in Keppel Street and said, “Hey, look! It’s the man who killed Santa!” Fortunately, he was joking.
For a minute I thought I was going to be writing this week’s effort from the A&E Department.
It’s odd, methinks, how no one over the age of 10 really believes in Santa, and yet to deny his existence is not far short of being a hanging offence.
Denying the existence of the Tooth Fairy or casting doubt upon the reality of the Easter Bunny barely encourages a shrug of the shoulders, but to poke a pointy stick at Santa precipitates angst, rage and tears at bedtime.
This week I thought I’d play it safe, then, and just delve into another baffling case.
Several years ago, in a place called Garden City, USA, the police were involved in a hair-raising chase with a crazed motorist who was zig-zagging all over the road.
At speeds that one TV commentator described as “almost supernatural”, the driver eluded the police and then turned left down a dirt road. The police vehicle was right behind him, but then something very strange seemed to happen.
The car just drove through a metal fence as if it wasn’t even there and faded from view on the other side.
The footage has been viewed millions of times on YouTube, and it is really baffling. You can see it for yourself here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuBw3NrkJHI
However, some researchers recently came up with what looked to be a clear solution.
They recreated the scene (others claim to have actually visited it) and drove their own vehicles at the chain-link fence. Guess what? The fence, which was supposedly only anchored at the top, simply draped itself over the car and fell back into its normal position as soon as the vehicle was on the other side. Imagine driving a car at a blanket hanging on a washing line and you’ll get the idea.
However, not everyone is convinced. First, some have pointed out that the location of the incident is not Garden City, Long Island, as is sometimes suggested, but Garden City, Georgia.
The second problem is that in recreations I’ve seen the vertical fence poles shake violently, but in the original video they don’t.
Also, although the police car dash-cam captures footage of the fence less than two seconds after the vehicle apparently went through it, it is perfectly still; not so much as a faint wobble, in fact.
And the baffling acceleration and deceleration of the vehicle has also left police officers and investigators alike scratching their heads.
To get to the bottom of the mystery, I decided to get in touch with Garden City Police Department and see if they could tell me what really happened. I was not to be disappointed.
My first call was greeted by an extremely helpful call-taker who put me through to Captain Don Chapman. Wow, what a guy.
Captain Chapman actually knew the officer who had been in the patrol car that night, and was kind enough to give me a telephone number on which he could be contacted. I wasn’t expecting that.
The officer concerned is now a Lieutenant with the Bloomingdale Police Department and Commander of “B Watch”. The office manager told me that Lieutenant Wayne Daniels was out on patrol, but she’d do her best to try to get him back to the office if I rang again in twenty minutes. She didn’t have to ask twice.
Next week I’ll tell you what happened when I eventually caught up with Lieutenant Daniels – the officer at the heart of the Garden City Ghost Car Mystery.
* Seen something strange? Tell Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org