There’s usually a rational explanation for even the strangest things that fall from the sky – but when a strange jelly like substance began raining on one small Washington town everyone was left scratching their heads. Twenty years on, it is still a mystery.
Oakville, 8 streets, a few hundred residents and like many small country towns sedate, unremarkable. which is why artist Beverley Roberts likes it here.
“Oakville’s a very quiet place, not a lot going on, most excitement is Jack’s in the morning for coffee, that’s about it.”
One August morning in 1994, it started raining. Nothing unusual about that – especially in a town that sees nearly 300 days of rain a year. But this was no ordinary rain.
“There was a clear gel of some kind that fell out of the sky, landed in many different places, scattered over a 3×5 mile area as close as we can tell,” says Roberts.
“I was kind of shocked by gobs of what looked like phlegm hanging all over and I thought somebody must have a heck of a cold …”
The town’s librarian Deborah Baker first came face to face with this strange substance as she was about to climb into her car and head off to work…
“I didn’t know what it was but my mom taught me don’t touch everything, so I picked up a stick and tried to scrape it off the windshield and it didn’t come off very easily, it was fairly sticky,” says Baker. “And throughout the day , people were coming in and saying that did you notice that stuff …”
And as the days passed, other troubling news began to spread around town…
“It was about a week later when people were coming in and saying they were feeling a little sick, family members were feeling ill with a respiratory-type problems,” says Roberts.
One morning, a friend knocked on Beverly’s door with a sample of the gel she’d collected. While taking a close look – a small blob of it flicked on to Beverly’s arm.
“The next morning I have a cone-shaped angry looking sore where the piece of gel had fallen,” says Roberts. “ I called my doctor, sent me into emergency and there was a white line running all up the lymph nodes of my arm.”
Medical staff were baffled; Beverley was put on a course of antibiotics – and sent home. She was now a woman on a mission – and wanted to know what this substance was – and where it had come from. And she had one nagging suspicion…
“At first I thought it might have to do with jets … flying over the ocean doing bombing runs. I found out there was an outlawed jet fuel creating lung problems … that it did mix with rain and turn to a jelly. “
But this was just a theory. Then, within days, rumours began spreading of a sinister development – cattle & pets were dying suddenly – for no apparent reason.
“I was walking along the Oak Meadows road when I saw a large blob of the substance next to it was a dead raven, and a large toad, legs all spread out on it.”
Now wearing rubber gloves, Beverly carefully collected a sample of the gel – and headed straight for the police station.The response from the officer on duty was not quite what she was expecting.
“he jumped up and said “I’m told to confiscate all this gel and rush it to the police lab in Tacoma and he took the patrol car and went out the door and left.”
Beverly never heard back from the police. Luckily, she’d kept one other sample – she decided to try a different tack. She sent it to Michael McDowell, a microbiologist at the Dept of the Environment.
The Freaky tracked down Michael McDowell who gave this strange true story a further twist.
“This material when I was manipulating it in the container facility came apart in this little rectilinear cubes and they seemed to have form and seemed to be consistent through the entire 100g of material,” McDowell told us. “I’ve never seen material like this before.”
The only conclusion Michael could draw – was that the gel was man-made/
“This is an engineered material for a single purpose and that is to carry other materials whether they be herbicides, pesticides, nerve gas, bio-agents, viral agents, anaesthetic, whatever … it’s not something somebody would do without significant means and for significant reasons.”
Residents had reported seeing helicopters over the town – Michael immediately suspected a military connection. But before he could complete his tests – he had an unexpected visit from his manager.
“I came in one morning and they told me all the material is to be destroyed and I questioned why and she said, do not ask. I said this is not appropriate, I said in 34 years of public service, I have never seen a sample disappear from my lab … that was very sad. “
At this point in our interview McDowell broke into tears. It is evident that he is still upset by these events. He obviously believes there was some kind of government cover up but with all the gel samples gone, the trail went cold. There was no proof one way or the other of any military involvement.
Michael McDowell though still believes someone out there knows what’s going on.
“The material that we received from Oakville was an engineered substance, that’s my initial impression and my impression today. I’ve heard other people say it’s frog gel, jelly fish but this material was man made for a purpose.”
Deborah doesn’t’ believe in a government conspiracy she has her own bizarre theory. “I think it’s alien ships passing over and they dumped their trash here and the bacterium they don’t want on their ships they just dump it…and that’s why it’s scattered here and there in different places…not caring where it lands.”