Local Perspectives

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I live on Beckham road in Hemphill. When I arrived home yesterday morning, the fire department had my road blocked off. I was informed that a torso had been found below my house. They let me go home and upon talking to a Forest Service employee who was blocking the road futher down, he informed me that a human torso which looked charred had landed in the pasture below my home. A skull with teeth still intact was also found. I was stunned. How could something like this happen? I vividly remember watching TV as the Challenger blew up. I never thought it would happen again, especially over my house. Later that afternoon, I walked over my land looking for other debris that might have fallen, hoping down deep that I wouldn't find anything. Luckily, I didn't, but upon going to check on our cows in another pasture on the outskirts of town, we found a black charred "shoe-leather looking object" in the road. It had no dust on it, which we thought was unusual. We didn't have a cell phone with us to call in, so we picked it up using sticks and put in the back of our truck. We took it to the firestation in Hemphill and since it was the first piece brought in, the truck was quarantined until the hazardous materials guys came to check out the piece. About 2 hours later, they did and we were allowed to leave. Meanwhile, I spoke to two women who had been on the lake fishing. They brought in some material and debris that they had found floating in the lake. They said that they had witnessed the shuttle going over and debris falling into the lake. One man said that a piece as big as a compact car had hit the water near him. Now we are hearing that our water may be contaminated. How can material that small contaminate a lake as big as Toledo Bend? I guess this is such a big tragedy and to hit on such small communities who aren't prepared for this kind of stuff makes it all so much more unbelievable. I know that the search will continue for months and they will be finding pieces for years to come as hunters walk the woods. My heart goes out to the families. As I saw the patch that was found in Nacogdoches county, I nearly cried. It is beginning to sink in what happened. That patch was on somebodys arm, an Astronauts arm, who was within 15 minutes of coming home to his family. - Karen, Hemphill

I was jogging this morning and about 8AM, a bright light in the western sky caught my eye. It was so awesome, I stopped and watched. At first, I thought it was an aircraft with an engine on fire. My heart raced thinking I was about to see a plane crash. Another aircraft was flying at 90 degrees headed south and I wondered if it could see this craft. But, then, I realized it was very high. As it tracked eastward, the brilliance intensified. I could see little pieces falling away, sparkling like Fourth of July fireworks. Just then, it flashed and the fireball became several smaller ones. Little particles that were left behind burned as they fell. It became 3 or 4 smaller fireballs and I stood and watched as they streaked off to the east until they were out of sight. The large smoke/vapor trail split into three smaller ones. I stood in amazement at what I had just witnessed. I looked around and no one was in sight to share this sighting with. So, I said a little "wow" and continued to jog. After going another 2 1/2 blocks, maybe 2 or 3 minutes later, that eerie rumble moved over the area. Again, I stopped. At first, it was like distant thunder but quickly built into a loud roaring, booming sound. It lasted about 30 seconds and faded again into a distant rumble as when it started. Again, I started my jog and after about 10 minutes, met up with another jogger. I asked him if he had seen the fireball. He said no, but had heard the rumble. So, I continued home and immediately asked Julie if she had heard it. Of course she had and it had scared her; she thought something had fallen on the house. I told her of the fireball and how the sound she heard was about 2 to 3 minutes later. As the end of my story left my mouth, the telephone rang. It was one of Julie's best friends asking me if I heard the sound. I told her I certainly had and had seen the fireball that caused it. When she told me it was the Columbia, I was speechless. I have not been able to get the sight of it breaking apart right before my eyes out of my mind. I have been praying for the astronauts and their families all day. What a tragic event. Pieces of debris have been found all around here. One of the helmets was found between Nacogdoches and San Augustine. Parts of it fell within 10 miles of here. I know you have been watching it on TV all day, but the local news is full of it too because it is all right here. It is truly unbelievable. I remember where I was when Kennedy was shot; when the Challenger blew up; when the airplanes hit the twin towers; and now this. I will never forget jogging in front of W.C. Trout Elementary on a glorious Saturday morning and unknowingly watching the Columbia blow apart killing 7 people. -Cooper, Lufkin

I would just like to send our thoughts to all family and friends.I was driving to work this morning when this happen and I would of never thought it would of been something like this.One of the pieces landed in the bank parking lot in Nacogdoches where a friend of my works and I am just glad she was not there,and we are just thankful no one else got hurt.I can just say God was watching. -Amelia, Kent,and Courtney

Lots of debris was found in the area of hwy 103 west and 1751 south. The debris goes back in an angle behind Grapevine a small community. Body parts were found in Rebeca, Texas on type 2 and some debris on the rail road tracks off hwy 103 east. An estimate of 35 people in the Rebeca and surrounding areas seen this unforutnite accident take place. Most debriswas seen falling in woods and in front yards. I talked to one of my friends and he told me, " I was sitting on my front porch and out of nowhere you could see something falling from the sky. Moments later 100 feet from my porch 2 good size chunks landed right in front of my yard." Local sheriffs and FBI arrived at various calls finding debris in yards and roadways. The investigation will continue in the morning between 6:00 am - 7:00am taking local volunteers to locate the debris. -Dusty, San Augustine County

You said no one was injured from falling debris, but that only means that no injuries have been reported. Please inform viewers to check on their neighbors. The size of the debris I have been seeing could have injured someone that can not call for help.

I seen the shuttle come over my house this morning , it started out with white smoke streams of 2 , then went to 1 , then they started getting curly like it was fixing to crash. Then I saw a plane smoke trail coming from the north to east ,I was afraid that was the sound I heard , but then why was the smoke getting curly before that intersection with the plane. But now I know what happened . -Kathy

We are located on FM 225, west of Nacogdoches, and we have a large round tank that fell from Columbia. We are in the process of contacting officials. -Hughes Family

Hi. As nothing ever happens in Bronson other than weather changes, I want to report a section of the shuttle fell about a block from my house, in my sister's yard. The law officers are guarding it. -Laverne

I live in a community called "Belott", 11 miles out of Crockett on Hwy 21E and went out at 7:57 a.m. to see the shuttle. As it was coming across my pasture I saw 2 lights, then as it passed overhead, it looked like a sparkler, many pieces lit up with vapor tailing behind them. I was on the phone with my daughter in Houston explaining it to her, when there was a loud explosion, then about 7-8 other booms, it sounded as though bombs were going off around me and I started to run inside. Then it occurred to me that the sound was following the shuttle because of the speed it was traveling. I watched the shuttle go to the Eastern horizon and then I saw 2 jets very high coming from different directions toward the vapor of the shuttle. I told my daughter the jets must be coming to escort the shuttle toward Florida. They were very high so the jets HAD to see the shuttle. Then another jet came from the NE after the shuttle was out of sight. These jets were NOT vapor from the shuttle, I could see them separate from the shuttle vapors. -Liz

The wife and I were at home when the shuttle broke up we live in Cushing on Hwy 204 and we thought it was a truck with a blown out tire and then the wife was in the bathroom and saw a smoke trail going off to the SE to SSE towards Nacogdoches. -Todd

We live on Hwy 7 East about 2 miles outside the loop. Around 8:15 this morning, the whole house started shaking and the windows sounded like they were going to shatter. The rumble sounded like an explosion. I went outside to see what was going on and there was a smoke trail going directly over the top of my house . We did not find any debris. Our hearts go out the astronauts and their families. -The Thumanns

We had a piece of debris fall right on our driveway in front of our house. We are located 6 1/2 mi. east of Alto on Hwy. 21. As soon as we saw what it was, we reported it to the Sheriff's Dept. in Cherokee County ---about 8:30 this morning. It is now 2:15 PM, and no one has been out to check it out, yet. Of course, it will take a long time to check out all the debris, (if ever), because of the vast area covered. A KTRE van just past our house going east toward Nacogdoches, probably coming from Alto. I understand there was some bigger pieces of debris that fell there. The sound of this happening was scary--- like a roar of a squadron of planes bombing something close by. The first thing we thought of was an earthquake, because our house was shaking, and the dishes in the cabinet were rattling. Just wanted to give you our report on our perspective out here in the country. -Mike and Rhonda

My husband, children, and I were getting ready to eat breakfast when we heard a train sounding noise and felt our house start to quiver. As the noise level increased, the house began to shake harder. My husband and I walked outside to see what was going on. Our horses and dogs were all looking toward the sky. We looked up and saw the debris trail as it went over our home off 103E in the Huntington area. It looked like a huge jet stream, except, it was wavy and zig-zaggy (if that is a word!). We thought it might be a plane fixing to crash. It looked as if it were headed toward the Jasper/Zavalla area. I thank God that there were no casualties besides the heroic Astronauts. That was a miracle. -Pinner Family, Hemphill, TX.

I was awaken by a loud sound. It sounded like an explosion right behind our trailer. At that time I didn't know anything about the shuttle. I turned on the news and heard about the terrible tragedy. Shortly after that they blocked off our road and was not allowing anyone to go down it. There has been two helicopters flying over us all day off and on. I heard there was possible parts found down below us, but at this time nothing has been confirmed. However they are still working , and again nothing has been confirmed that anything has been found. Also our hearts go out to the family that lost love ones in this terrible tragedy. I want them to know they will be in our prayers through this time. God Bless You All! -Amanda