By Karen Middleton
For The News Courier
A local family reported seeing a strange object traveling silently through the Independence Day sky – and the fireworks hadn’t even begun.
The Rod Carroll family of five said they were sitting in the parking lot between Athens High School and the Golden Eagles Stadium, facing the stadium, when the object came in view. He estimated the time at 8:45 to 9 p.m.
“It was small – didn’t look big enough to be a plane,” Carroll said. “It was like an inverted triangle with the wider side at the front. It had small lights at the front two corners.”
Carroll said the object made no sound.
“At first I thought maybe it was one of those remote-control devices with possibly a camera to take pictures of the fireworks,” he said. “It went over the stadium, across the highway (U.S. 31), banked and headed south, and then turned and headed back east.”
Carroll said after first thinking it might be a remote-controlled device, he thought it would have been too far out of range for a remote.
“It was low,” he said. “It appeared to be even lower than the stadium lights, but it might have been my perspective. It might have been farther off than that.”
Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson said he and a large contingent of his officers were at the stadium from 7:30 to 9 p.m. and none of them reported seeing anything strange in the skies.
“A lot of us were out there working traffic and no one saw anything,” Johnson said. “I didn’t hear and chatter on the radio about it. We had multiple officers in one place, so they could have confirmed what another had seen. The fire chief and mayor were also there and they didn’t report seeing anything.”
Shortly after the fireworks ended, a small plane could be seen coming in and out of the clouds, Johnson said.
“The plane came from the southeast and turned northwest,” the chief said. “All I could see were the red lights, and I could definitely hear it. It was a plane.”
Several Facebook comments seem to back up Carroll’s sighting.
Robby Newport reports: “It came from behind the school from where I was set up.”
Becky Lamar said: “We saw it and my husband and daughter went to get it last night when it fell. A couple of teenagers got to it before he did. It was a red cloth looking thing. Our guess was that it was a parachute from one of the fireworks, because it was burnt around the edges.”
Lisa Poss wrote: “Yea we saw it too…”
Caressa Beard added: I saw it too. Looked kinda like a balloon but had a red flashing light on it.”
Bethany Enfinger said: “We saw a synchronized flashing light!”